In Grecian Colour
White. Beige. Mottled Grey.
What colour comes to mind when you think of ancient Greek statues? For most of us, it’s the neutrals. The beautifully carved neutrals that we’ve seen in museums and textbooks. But was this the work that the Greeks saw upon unveiling?
No, according to a new exhibit at the Met Museum:’Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color’.
The Met’s exhibit, which launched this month, focuses on ‘polychromy’, or the Greek idea of ‘many colours’. ‘Chroma’ is based on the meticulous reconstruction work of Professor Dr. V. Brinkmann, Head of the Department of Antiquity at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, and Dr. U. Koch-Brinkman.
The deep-dive research of these classical archeologists included 3D imaging. In so doing, they learned a great deal more about: a) what the use of specific colours meant in ancient Greek and Rome, and b) what these sculptures might have actually looked like in full colour.
Reconstruction of the Sphinx @ The Met
For some of the existing Met sculptures – such as the Sphinx we see in full glorious colour reconstruction above – traces of colour can even be seen with the naked eye. For the Sphinx, it’s remnants of red ocher in her hair.
In ‘Chroma’, visitors will see extensive examples from the Met’s Greek and Roman collection alongside ~17 full-size art reconstructions by the Doctors Brinkman. For those who aren’t in New York, there is plenty to discover online, including a Chroma Augmented Reality App focused on the Sphinx.
Header Image: Greek Archer. Reconstruction @ The Met