5.02.2013

Ancient Greek Art -- Apparently Worse than the 80s!





I stumbled across an article today from io9.com, discussing how ultraviolet light can tell us how Ancient Greek and Roman statues originally appeared. Apparently they were painted, and over the centuries that paint has faded/eroded/been cleaned off, but UV light makes tiny fragments of pigment still left on the surface glow bright. Then with Infrared and X-ray spectroscopy they figure out what the paints were made of.

Once the patterns have been established, an idea of what the statues looked like can be extrapolated and the result is ... loud and tacky. No doubt, the Ancient Greeks loved their colour but ... wow, those statues look ugly. Just look at the comparison of the two versions of the iconic statue of Julius Caesar:


 

Yet one wonders if this isn't a situation where an original colour was applied with the knowledge that it would quickly darken, or whether the scientists' results are off.

4 comments:

Nicholas Trandem said...

The idea of white statuary and unpainted / unadorned buildings being somehow beautiful is a Renaissance error exacerbated by Protestant iconoclasm. Both the ancients and the Catholics of the Age of Faith loved bright colors. For example, this reconstruction of a medieval parish church: http://sergesblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/been-there-durham-england-long-time-ago.html

Nicholas D.C. Wansbutter said...

I don't disagree, but I do think that the medieval Church you link to actually looks good, whereas some of the pics on the article I linked to look tacky.

Sophia's Favorite said...

Those images are reconstructions, so the real colors would probably be somewhat different. And the trouble with that archer figure is that the little different-colored scales make the image too busy, not that the colors themselves are loud.

The picture at the top of the page certainly isn't tacky, and the Caesar figure doesn't look much different from ten thousand images of St Michael.

Anonymous said...

That statue is from Caesar Augustus not Julius Caesar.

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