Richard Jebb - Early Initiator of the School

Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb (1841 – 1905) was one of the earliest initiators of the British School at Athens. He was a promoter of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies (established by George Macmillian, the publisher, in 1879, who went on to be a Chairman of BSA and the author of the School’s first history) and on a trip to Athens in 1878 he noticed how Britain lagged behind France and Germany in its study of ancient life and art. Jebb wrote letters to the Times and the Contemporary Review pointing this out and suggesting the establishment of British Schools at Athens and Rome. He returned to Greece in 1881 and had extensive correspondence with possible supporters of such a School (including the Greek Foreign Minister who was in favour).

Back in England, Jebb published an article in the Fortnightly Review (1883) called “A Plea for a British Institute in Athens” and this was responded to by the Prince of Wales who summoned a meeting at Marlborough House (25th June) to discuss the possibility of setting up a school. When the meeting voted in favour of establishing the institution, Jebb became Honorary Secretary of the committee established to set up the organisation. It was Jebb who was responsible for negotiating the land on which the BSA is built.

Born in Scotland of Irish ancestry and educated partly in Ireland, Jebb was a classical scholar who studied Classics at Trinity College Cambridge and became Professor of Classics at the University of Glasgow and Regius Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge. He became a Member of Parliament in 1891 and was knighted in 1900.

Artist’s Note: As with most of the LEGO portraits in this British School at Athens exhibition, I have drawn most of my visual ideas and inspiration from photos provided to me from the BSA archives and Jebb’s LEGO portrait is directly inspired by his BSA photo. I designed the torso to directly imitate his style of suit and tie. His face and facial hair were a huge challenge at first as there are simply no heads by the LEGO Group that have this style of facial hair. After many weeks of experiment and thought, I eventually realized that combining a head with sideburns and adding a moustache gave the right feel I needed.