SPAIN’S Culture Commission in the national senate has rejected a motion that wanted the government to permanently transfer an iconic statue back to Elche.

The Commission voted 12 against with just two votes in favour with 11 abstentions for the ‘Lady of Elche’ to continue being exhibited at Madrid’s National Archaeological Museum.

The Lady of Elche is a polychrome stone bust that was discovered by chance in August 1897 at L’Alcudia, an archaeological site on a private estate just south of Elche.

It’s a piece of Iberain sculpture dating back to the fourth century BC and was bought by the Louvre museum in Paris for 4,000 francs and put on display there.

In 1941, it returned to Spain where it stayed for 30 years in the Prado Museum before a ministerial order decreed that it should form part of the Archaeological Museum.

Elche council has campaigned for many years for it to be permanently displayed in the area. 

Despite the pleas, the national government constantly refused to yield ground on the possibility of the Lady returning to its ‘home’ region.

In 2016, Valencian president, Ximo Puig, suggested that a branch of the Archaeological Museum should be formed in Elche to feature the statue but nothing came of the idea.

Valencian Compromis party senator, Carles Mulet, led the latest move for the Lady’s return, 124 years after her departure.

He said: “Art ought to be in its place of origin and the Lady is part of a whole series of works in the Madrid museum, while it would be the focal point both culturally and for tourists if it took centre.stage in Elche.”

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