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Distributed for Hirmer Publishers


The Polychromy of Antique and Medieval Sculpture

Scholars around the world are researching the degree to which colour was employed in classical and medieval sculpture. Their numerous activities and projects were most recently presented and debated at an international colloquium held in the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung in Frankfurt. The current contributions of 20 internationally known scholars are brought together in this richly illustrated book in English.


Among specialists, the educated layperson’s ideal of an antiquity in shining white marble has long since been dismissed as an historical error. The classical and medieval reality of coloured sculpture is now regarded as an incontrovertible fact. As long ago as the early 19th century, statues with remains of their original paint were not only discovered in Greece, but news of them was published. In the 20th century, these discoveries were at first neglected. However the work done by a team under the archeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann, resulting in an exhibition shown worldwide since 2003 entitled“Gods in Colour”, has put new life into this research and literally changed the way we see Antiquity. The extent of this revolution is graphically captured by the present volume with articles ranging from the controversial history of this research to the current state of the art of reconstructing historical painting techniques and the latest scientific methods of analyzing material residues. It culminates in the changes in the perception and significance of sculpture brought about by colour. 

With illustrations and commentary on numerous examples of ancient and medieval works, this volume unfolds a rich panorama of polychrome statuary on the basis of the latest research results.

300 pages | 400 color plates | 6 2/3 x 9 3/4 | © 2010

Art: Ancient and Classical Art

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Table of Contents

    Max Hollein
Statues in Colour: Aesthetics, Research and Perspectives
    Vinzenz Brinkmann

Historical Essays
Historical Painting Techniques
The Polychromy of Antique Sculpture
The Polychromy of Mediaeval Sculpture

Picture Credits

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