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SH Archive Classical White Marble Sculptures Were Actually Painted But Lost Color Over Time

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2020-04-18 09:15:34
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Aug 26, 2020
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Came across this article just now, and immediately thought we may enjoy a discussion on it.
Although I must stress, none of this is my area of any expertise.

It's all Michelangelo's fault.... Article Link

'Marble sculpture is a cornerstone of art history. The ancient Greeks left a legacy of transformative sculptural works that reached for unprecedented naturalism in Hellenistic gems such as Venus de Milo and Nike of Samothrace. This was succeeded by the ancient Romans, who copied their major works and created portrait busts and equestrian statues of major historical figures' (Making sure we get the timeline and narrative)


The article goes on..

'At the time of their completion, however, these ancient masterpieces looked remarkably different. Instead of the uniform ivory surfaces we’re familiar with today, these sculptures were in fact painted over in vibrant colors. This includes their skin, hair, clothes, eyes, and even finer details like intricate prints and eyelashes. Both the Greeks and the Romans embellished their pristine marble sculptures in paint, believing that the work of art was incomplete until it received its chromatic embellishment.
Despite these facts, the misconception of their “unblemished” appearance lives on—due in large part to their rediscovery 600 years ago, and the impact it had afterward. When Italians found these classical treasures buried underground in the 14th century, the fragile pigments had long since fallen away. However, since these sculptures appeared otherwise intact and well-preserved, it was assumed they were meant to be white marble'

'This revelation of ancient aesthetics—which were so dramatically different from the lingering Gothic style of the Middle Ages—was one of the triggers for the Italian Renaissance. Suddenly, colorless statues were upheld to be the standard of classical art which all visionary artists should be trying to achieve. Thus, sculptors like Michelangelo were challenged with transforming a block of marble into a human ideal without “sullying” the surface with unnecessary beautification, such as paint'

'Even though ancient artifacts with traces of paint were discovered during the subsequent centuries, the glorified aesthetic of white marble had already been widely propagated as the correct one. So much so, that painted sculptures were often ridiculed as being a lower art form, especially as it resembled the style of art during the Middle Ages—a period which was seen as the antithesis of classical and neoclassical ideals'

At no point in the article does Margherita put forward any reasoning or actual proofs of this new discovery/ painting idea. However the attached video states the discovery of Pompeii and its colourful frescoes depicting colourful statues as the reasoning. It further states that the paint faded or fell off because the statues were buried or left out in the open, or it was removed by cleaning or by design.... (She has no idea) She does go on to suggest that if we read surviving documents, the evidence is there.... Also, UV light can detect 'faded' pigments....

Watch the video here, and see what is being past of as 'New facts' will no real investigation as the actual facts, although she does openly admit academic and histrionic fraud. Our kids are being taught this stuff, by presenters like this young lady.

To me, this all feels like headline adjustment, as opposed to the regular headline maintenance. It all helps to muddy the waters. I would suggest, Michelangelo et all were knocking these out somehow en mass, nothing is ancient. Read and listen to how easily they shift historical facts around to fit the new narrative. I also love how she easily reveals that Augustus of Prima Porta was 're-discovered' in 1863, as if by magic.

This computerised 'colour' version of Caligula is horrific, surely they have more talented colour artists?


And how tf do they come to this conclusion?


TS quick. Summary:

Michelangelo et all got it wrong, they should have been painting there 'renaissance' works, because, now, historians have realised that 'originals' were originally coloured.

Note: This OP was recovered from the Wayback Archive.


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Aug 27, 2020
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At no point in the article does Margherita put forward any reasoning or actual proofs of this new discovery/ painting idea
I was thinking this as I read along! I think if they were painted then why go to the trouble of using marble(even if it is faux). Surely it would be easier to carve and move around statues if they were made of wood or even formed from geo polymer.
like you say, ugly as hell when painted, not pleasing to the eye. I don't believe, at least the vast majority were painted

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