Thursday, September 16, 2021

Surely they didn't look quite like that...

I grew up thinking Greek and Roman statues were mostly plain white, though even back then they knew some had been painted. We now know most of them were painted, and this is a nice collection of examples. But the reconstructions, pretty much one and all, looked like cartoons. Some of those statues have amazing detail and texture--would the sculpter have been satisfied with the flat colors we've tried to slap on? Granted, those flat colors are the color of the residues we found, but I'd bet that at least some of the more realistic statues got additional detailing and shading on top of that base. The author of that peice agrees with me.

John Deandrea does painted sculpture now. I'd bet the Greeks, trying to immortalize (almost literally--e.g. an Olympic winner carved to look like Zeus) their model, would have gone in for all the detail they could.

Of course, over time the detail would fade or erode, and maybe some of them planned for that.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

I agree entirely. Once I got over my surprise a few decades ago that they were not white - which meant that the Roman Catholic statues my Protestant family had always looked on disdainfully as gaudy were in fact more authentic - I had the sudden idea a few years later that they might not be cartoonish, as you say, either.

Then when the true colors of the Sistine Chapel were revealed, and we learned that the somber hues were not dignified and holy, but merely old and dirty, I felt my suspicions were confirmed. I never thought much about it again, but had you asked me, I would have realised that of course about a thousand professionals would have had this occur to them as well, and set about studying it.

So thanks for the link. Loads of fun.

Korora said...

So when archaeologists uncover My Little Pony figurines in a couple thousand years, Derpy will be distinguishable from Rainbow Dash only by the positions of the eyes?