Gods in Color. Poly­chromy in the an­cient world

Timeless Travels Magazine - - BOOK REVIEWS -

V. Brinkmann, R. Drey­fus, U. Koch-Brinkmann, Pres­tel Pub­lished: Oc­to­ber 2017 Price: £29.99

This­book was pub­lished to ac­com­pany an ex­hi­bi­tion held in San Fran­cisco in Au­tumn 2017, but it will be of in­ter­est to any­one who loves clas­si­cal an­tiq­uity.

Poly­chromy, the paint­ing of ob­jects in a va­ri­ety of hues, was a reg­u­lar fea­ture of the sculp­ture and ar­chi­tec­ture of most an­cient cul­tures, es­pe­cially in Egypt, Me­sopotamia, the Aegean, Greece and Rome. When such works be­gan to be re­dis­cov­ered in the 18th cen­tury af­ter pro­longed ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments, their coloured sur­faces had faded. And most of us will never have thought that th­ese beau­ti­ful white mar­ble stat­ues would have, in fact, been brightly coloured.

This book fea­tures six es­says that de­scribe the cul­tural con­texts of se­lected an­cient works and the mod­ern tech­no­log­i­cal meth­ods to un­cover their orig­i­nal colours.

But re­ally it is just shock­ing to see how th­ese an­cient stat­ues and friezes would have re­ally looked, in their bright, and to our eyes, pos­si­bly gar­ish colours. Li­ons with bright blue manes or Per­sian horsemen with brightly coloured tights def­i­nitely takes some get­ting used to. A fas­ci­nat­ing book.

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