John The Baptist's Head To Be Removed Twice?

by TBG

John The Baptist's Head To Be Removed Twice?
Catherine Miles, a councillor on Oxford's Liberal Democrat run council is pushing for the council to sell off artworks which "are inappropriate for a progressive public body" and replace them with those that "represent Oxford's ethnic diversity."


Katherine Miles, a councillor on Oxford's Liberal Democrat run council who has a very Liberal Democrat appearance

has proposed selling off* world renowned artworks in Oxford Council's collection because they are "are inappropriate for a progressive public body." She's pushing instead for the council to replace them with newer artworks which "represent Oxford's ethnic diversity."

The paintings in question are Salome with the Head of John the Baptist by Guido Reni and The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Pietro Berretini da Cortona. There is also a trophy (The Morell Trophy) that features a fox hunting scene. 

The Rape of the Sabine Women (the word rape here means abduction) relates to a Roman mythological incident when Romulus, one of the legendary founders of Rome and his associates abducted the Sabine women from surrounding tribes as their future wives. These women later stood between their kin folk and their new husbands to prevent slaughter. Or so the tale (told by Livy - B1C9) goes. 

If this sounds like familiar philistinism by ideologues, this isn't the first time this has been attempted by an Oxford councillor. Back in 1996 the complaint then was that this went against the council's 'Equal Opportunities' policies and that the artworks were offensive to domestic abuse victims. Then in 2008 a - naturally - Green councillor called Nuala Young tried again, chirping, "this is just the start of what we could look at selling."

These attempts failed, but then they only need to win once. The same Sword of Damocles hovers above the 'Rhodes Must Fall' controversy at Oxford's Oriel College where at present those seeking to remove Cecil Rhodes's statue are 'contextualising his legacy' even when Oxford Council, Oriel College and various university bodies agree it should be removed. The clock is ticking. As we know when political practises are not explicitly right-wing, then as is said 'Cthulhu only swims left.'

For now, thankfully, the council session at which Miles's proposal was made ran out of time.

* Council agenda point 166D


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