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Added by Nusch on 27 Aug 2014 07:12
1433 Views 3 Comments

True colors of ancient sculpture

When we think of Greek statues and buildings of the classical period, we tend to imagine white marble. But scientists in recent years have discovered that it is in fact most likely that many of the buildings and statues were painted and probably adorned with jewelry.

German archeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann was a key player in confirming this idea. He used high intensity lamps, ultraviolet light, plaster casts, cameras, and jars of powdered material to find chemical remnants of the mineral and organic pigment that were originally on these sculptures.1 A few of these include pulverized malachite (green), azurite (blue), arsenic compounds (yellow/orange), cinnabar (red), as well as charred bone and vine (black).2

Garish? Gaudy? How could the same artists who carved those immortal forms prefer such a tacky treatment? If Brinkmann is right, we may have to revise our estimation of what constitutes good taste in sculpture.

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