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

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Timeshifter
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Timeshifter

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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)

20200418_092913.jpg

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?

Caligula.JPG

And how tf do they come to this conclusion?

colour.JPG

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.

Thoughts?
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Oracle

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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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Username: Banta
Date: 2020-04-18 21:49:40
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I am not sure what to make of this either, except the colorization makes them seem cheap. Reminds me of this:

In 1986, film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert did a special episode of Siskel & Ebert addressing colorization as "Hollywood's New Vandalism." Siskel explained how networks were unable to show classic black-and-white films in prime-time unless they offer it in color. "They arrest people who spray subway cars, they lock up people who attack paintings and sculptures in museums, and adding color to black and white films, even if it's only to the tape shown on TV or sold in stores, is vandalism nonetheless." Roger Ebert added, "What was so wrong about black and white movies in the first place? By filming in black and white, movies can sometimes be more dreamlike and elegant and stylized and mysterious. They can add a whole additional dimension to reality, while color sometimes just supplies additional unnecessary information."

Of course though, if these sculptures were really in color, I doubt we have any idea of what shades of colors they used. The whole thing feels off, but maybe if the colors added weren't so vibrant and bold, I'd feel differently.
 

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Username: JohnHancock
Date: 2020-04-19 02:59:41
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I guess I’m wondering why it took so long to shine a black light on...
 

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Username: jd755
Date: 2020-04-19 18:06:34
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Why overlay cgi on an image of the bust?
Surely they could make a plaster copy using a silicon mould or even use artificial marble for 'authenticity' and actually paint the thing.
 

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Username: Ishtar
Date: 2020-04-20 03:55:30
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To be fair, many saint statues in Italian and Hispanic cultures are brightly painted like this
 

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Username: tupperaware
Date: 2020-04-21 18:35:01
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https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2018/02/02/ancient-greece-statues-color/ Another good article.

Its suspicious to me that all the many "Greek/Roman" sculptures I have seen are all superlative and not at all amateurish. What happened to the 95% of sculptures that would have been cherished but rank and file keepsakes over thousands of years? Where are the lousy sculptures? Like the 3 minute caricature drawings we would get as kids at Disneyland.
 

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Username: BrokenAgate
Date: 2020-04-21 19:39:07
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Yet, we are supposed to believe that painted murals, on the walls of "ancient" Roman and Egyptian temples, could survive thousands of years without fading noticeably. ?

I can't help but wonder why anyone would go to the trouble of carving a sculpture from expensive white marble, only to cover it up in garish paint. Wouldn't you use a cheaper stone? Or maybe just concrete in a mold? I can see tinting parts of the marble to make the hair or clothing a slightly different shade; but painting it seems weird.
How about all the crappy little souvenir figurines with "I ❤ Rome" stamped on the bottom? Or a few ugly clay ashtrays made by grade school children as Father's Day gifts? You never see any of that in the museums, I guess because they aren't sexy enough.
 

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Username: makzpj
Date: 2020-04-21 21:02:46
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I saw this some months ago and immediately thought it was BS. As some of you have pointed out, color makes the sculptures look horrible. And this is not because ancient aesthetics are different from ours, it's simply obvious. Unless they had some incredible, ultra realistic painting technique to match the sculptures, I don't believe this.
 

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Username: r0undeye
Date: 2020-04-21 21:40:39
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It’s not just the garish colors that make it seem off, when covered in paint the skin lacks the sub-surface scattering of light giving it a plastic doll feel, marble itself naturally has a more realistic skin qualities. I agree something seems off, maybe some were painted after the fact or something but not like this.
 

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Username: tupperaware
Date: 2020-04-21 22:03:50
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When they were counterfeited in the middle ages or later, masters of sculpture made them and were actually incapable of making anything less than amazing. The more amazing these supposed ancient sculptures were the more money they would fetch after being dug up. The coloration could also have been done by the counterfeiters since they and potential dupes would have known that Egyptian artists did paint their sculptures. Adding paint (here and there before burial) enhanced the gullibility of the dupes buying the sculptures. When the dupes reviewed the sculptures for the first time the paint would have been nearly gone "by design". Sculptures with too much paint would be thought frauds as well as sculptures fresh out of the ground without any paint. Before the dupe took receipt of the sculpture all the paint would have been removed and the surfaces cleaned up - considerably.

Any accounts of carbon dating any residual ink on any of these "ancient" colored sculptures?

Here is a related story where an extremely old but masterful sculpture was found perplexing the experts who said it was confusing there was a super genius Neanderthal doing Michelangelo level art while everyone else was drawing wavvy lines! Well the answer to that is just find yourself some ancient Mammoth ivory and get it carved up in present day China where they have entire villages dedicated to counterfeiting very specific art. They know what to do to "distress" the fake art to fool the experts. Follow the money.

The Mystery of the Lion Man sculpture

My guess is repeated attempts were made to sell similar carved ivory frauds but once the second attempt is made the fake art cat is out of the bag and everybody is content knowing they were not duped by the first fraud. Those unsuccessful efforts to sell fake ancient art are almost never publicized.
 

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Username: Trouvare
Date: 2020-04-22 16:08:22
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I always thought these things were originally painted. Still do.

So, a set of people in white labs coats find a bone, underground, and invent an entire library of fiction about the thing (“dinosaur”) it belonged to (what it looked like, diet, migration, favorite color, etc)...

But another set of white lab coat wearing diggers, find statues underground and have no fantastical narrative to thrown on it?

Nah... They were painted.
 

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Username: jd755
Date: 2020-04-22 17:00:17
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How does one prove it one way or the other?
 

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Username: nanuko
Date: 2020-04-22 17:13:37
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Thanks. Fresh water into this "PANDERETEMIA" (sorry, only for spanish) but something like epidemic tambourine ;)?
 

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Username: BrokenAgate
Date: 2020-04-22 18:08:04
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Well, they are find of attaching names to some of the statues. This one is Julius Caesar, this one is Socrates, etc., even though none of them came with labels glued on.
 

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Username: tupperaware
Date: 2020-04-22 18:25:19
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Here is very easy proof of principle that shook Japan to its core and amazed the rest of the world for a few weeks.

Japanese Paleolithic hoax - Wikipedia

Here is another much more entertaining proof of principle. TREASURES FROM THE WRECK OF THE UNBELIEVABLE Review Great movie.


The Japanese hoax is a complete from top to bottom mega scam by at least one prominent archaeologist who did it not for money but for fame and his warped sense of job security maybe. How much more likely is it then that major hoaxes do occur over the last 700 years or so where not only fame but a lot of money is involved? My guess is there was a consortium of fraudsters perhaps even underground "guilded". There were sculptors making the most desirable fakes for a known market and the handlers that specialized in burying the sculptures for say 20 years then arrange them to be dug up. This going on the last 500 years or more.

Bible relics were faked "all" the time and made some middle age fraudsters a lot of money. This was long before many of the "ancient" Greek statues were faked.

Another guess is that this specialized fakery is to be found today in family lineages dating back quite a ways.

The easiest way to almost prove that ancient statues were painted would be to do a decent sized study on the age of the paint. Even here that can be faked.

Just buy some Carbon 14 (no license required!) then get the recipe for organic colored ink obtained by Egyptian real artifacts - or fake it. Mix in the correct amount of carbon 14 and paint your sculpture, bury and dig it up after 10 years or so then remove most of the paint. This works for faking painted artwork in the last 40 years or so as well.

What is Carbon-14 (14C) Dating? Carbon Dating Definition

"Carbon-14 Datable Materials
Not all materials can be radiocarbon dated. Most, if not all, organic compounds can be dated. Some inorganic matter, like a shell’s aragonite component, can also be dated as long as the mineral’s formation involved assimilation of carbon 14 in equilibrium with the atmosphere.

Samples that have been radiocarbon dated since the inception of the method include charcoal, wood, twigs, seeds, bones, shells, leather, peat, lake mud, soil, hair, pottery, pollen, wall paintings, corals, blood residues, fabrics, paper or parchment, resins, and water, among others.

Physical and chemical pretreatments are done on these materials to remove possible contaminants before they are analyzed for their radiocarbon content."


The worst case scenario is that these colored sculptures are the work of "contemporary" fakery bakeries and they are buying Carbon-14 and mixing their own 2000 year old organic paints to color their fake statues.

For a very good example of what might be a fake that most have seen is:

1587578836241.png
Lady of Elche - Wikipedia

I have a read a few times this is a suspected contemporary fake (modern era). Some residual paint testing was done but apparently not C14 dating. An entire book was written on this alleged fake. Specialists saying its real tested residue left in out of the way pockets and compared that to other Iberian sculpture. The problem there is all that testing could have been faked one way of the other. All you need is another fake Iberian sculpture with identical faked ink.

Fakery making people a lot of money could be the mostly highly evolved form of human art. Kind of like organized prostitution. Disorganized prostitution not so much.

Good wikinfo on the history of polychroming art. Polychrome - Wikipedia
 

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Username: Starmonkey
Date: 2020-04-22 19:25:29
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That was a great mockumentary. I so wanted to believe in his weird mashups of culture and history. Kali vs the Hydra was SPOOKY underwater. Love how they just lifted that golden sun disk face right off of the ocean floor. Like gold isn't the heaviest and wouldn't just sink and settle down through the depths.
Better than his disgusting shark and other such nonsense. At least that exhibition was more creative and involving.
 

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Username: EUAFU
Date: 2020-04-29 03:53:21
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Probably the painters of these statues were not as bad as the video shows. They were probably never painted.
Let us suppose that all of this is real and such painters existed, the flat and nuanced colors are typical of children or amateur artists, and even amateur artists in a short time take the "pictorial leap" (unless it is really obtuse). There is no way to believe that the paintings were so crude.

Although I don't really believe that these ancient Greeks and Romans were really ancient, much less that these statues were painted one day.
 

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Username: BStankman
Date: 2020-04-29 10:57:49
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My thoughts exactly, except they probably were not carved, but cast. And who knows when they were actually made.
 

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Correction, adding carbon 14 no matter how easy won't do anything but make the artifact appear younger than it really is and not older. The decay rate of carbon 14 needs to be increased to artificially age an artifact and I don't think that is possible.
 
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