Everything you heard in the Duveen galleries, of course, is true. I just posted a drawing (in COTD) of the young athlete adjusting his victory
crown (evidenced by the point of attachment on the 'copies' and the position of the raised arm
and by earlier reliefs showing young athletes adjusting their crowns): these crowns were made of bronze (for durability, I think) covered with gold leaf. Made separately, even for the original bronze statue.
As for those Smithsonian
colors and those on the Kassel replicas and on sundry casts in cast
museums. They usually are based on spectra of traces or sometimes on literary evidence--more or less. They are gross. Not too bright, not too dark or light, but ignorant.
The only ancient paint that would adhere to marble was encaustic; arguably, whether in Egypt
or in Greece
, encaustic (which contained not only pigment and beeswax but animal glue--like, from hooves) was invented for coloring architectural details. Shortly, it also was used for coloring on marble statuary. Yes, the Acropolis archaic statues
were painted. Yes, certainly, the Aegina
pedimental figures were painted. No, the colors didn't look like that! No, they didn't look like the plaster casts tinted with water soluble colors. Even the (these are a bit
different) ancient Egyptian statues
, fully colored, carved from limestone or wood
, then coated with gesso, then painted, of which we have, for example the Scribe, Kay, Dyn. 5, in the Louvre. Not poster-paint colors on Kay!
First, to eliminate the most egregious outrage: both Greeks
and Etruscans adopted the Egyptian
color code: red-brown for males, white or cream or pinkish cream for females. Mediterraneans typically who spend time outdoors get very tan; pale, especially pink
, was code for feminine. A pink
archer is appalling. In Greek terms (I don't like it either, but that doesn't matter).
Second, these yucky reconstructions don't show what colors look like in Mediterranean sunlight. Saturated colors, necessarily mineral colors (vegetable colors fade), applied carefully, probably coated with beeswax, too--on three-dimensional, solid forms, modeled by full sunlight, later in the day by warm afternoon light.Smithsonian
's evenly graduated (abuse of Photoshop) cyan sky, the like of which I never saw in Athens
, clearly betrays their taste.Pat