Friday, 27 August 2010

Special Techniques Reveal Greek Statues' Original Appearance

Guest Post by Jeff Perren.


A technique called ‘raking light' has been used to analyze art for a long time.

A lamp is positioned carefully enough that the path of the light is almost parallel to the surface of the object. When used on paintings, this makes brushstrokes, grit, and dust obvious.

On statues, the effect is more subtle. Brush-strokes are impossible to see, but because different paints wear off at different rates, the stone is raised in some places – protected from erosion by its cap of paint – and lowered in others. Elaborate patterns become visible.

Ultraviolet is also used to discern patterns. ...

Our image of Ancient Greece is inescapably colored, pardon the pun, by having grown up with the austere appearance of its white marble buildings and statues. The technique reveals just how colorful their culture truly was.

Read the rest.


  1. Fascinating.

    You're right that the apparent austerity of Greek sculpture and architecture has effected folks' perception of the culture. So few realise how exuberant and colourful it all was.

    I remember a few years back seeing a model of the Parthenon at The Met, presented in full, living colour--so surprising was it that many of the viewers around me assumed it was some sort of a joke.

    I remember reading too how Frank Lloyd Wright used to say that the history of architecture would have been so different had the Greeks used iron and glass.

    How radically different would it have been if everyone understood the wild colours they painted everything.

    Those Greeks, eh. :-)

  2. Imagine how much more successful (or not) that the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who could be with an appropriate paint job...



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