Oxford's Balliol College removes portrait of 'colonialist' statesman after complaints from students and replaces it with art by a female graduate

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Oxford's Balliol College removes portrait of 'colonialist' statesman after complaints from students and replaces it with art by a female graduate

Post by Guest on Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:58 am

An Oxford college has removed a portrait of one of Britain’s most distinguished statesmen from its hall after undergraduates branded him a colonialist. The 1913 oil painting of George Curzon, the former Viceroy of India and Foreign Secretary, had hung in the grand dining hall at his former college Balliol for decades.

But it was taken down at the height of the campaign by undergraduates to remove a statue of arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes and the painting has now been relegated to an office wall.

Last night, critics blamed political correctness and ‘anti-imperialist ideology’ for the decision, although the university said the picture had been removed for planned restoration and denied it had been hidden away.

‘Stripping away memories of our imperial past’

It disappeared from prominence in the magnificent dining hall early last year as Balliol undergraduates overwhelmingly backed demands for the toppling of a statue of Rhodes, who is blamed for paving the way for apartheid in South Africa.

Their motion, which backed fellow students in calling on Oriel College to remove the Rhodes memorial, included the line: ‘Balliol has its own colonialist, George Curzon, honoured with a painting hung in Hall.’

As part of a ‘diversity’ drive, it was replaced by paintings including Magdalen, by art student Emily Carrington Freeman, a recent Balliol graduate and the first female artist to be represented in the hall.

Last summer, the Master of Balliol, Sir Drummond Bone, reassured a descendent of the former Viceroy that, despite ‘the heat generated over statues in Oxford’, the painting was undergoing conservation work.

It was finally completed at a cost of £3,200 earlier this year.

But The Mail on Sunday has now discovered that, rather than being rehung in the hall alongside portraits of former masters and historic figures such as Charles I, the picture is now in the office of history professor Martin Conway.

Last night, Professor Nigel Biggar from Christ Church, Oxford – an expert on the ethics of the British Empire who has come under fire from fellow academics for saying it was not all bad – said: ‘Oxford colleges are full of overwhelmingly male portraits, so there is a case for more diversity.

‘But I would object if there is a general stripping of our walls of any memory of our imperial past. Our past is full of things, some of which we can be proud, and Curzon was a great man in many respects.

‘But right now colleges are vulnerable to anti-imperialist ideology, which is shared by some senior members. If Curzon disappears into some back office, I would strongly suspect that political correctness and a too-uncritical deference to anti-colonialist ideology would be the reason.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5209047/Oxfords-Balliol-College-removes-portrait-statesman.html#ixzz52AQRq0CJ
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