Past Exhibitions


Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity

Fri, 09/21/2007 - 20:00 -- wds
Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity
September 22, 2007—January 20, 2008 Arthur M. Sackler Museum

“Peplos” Kore. Marble original: Greek, c. 530 BC, Akropolis Museum, Athens. Color reconstructions by Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann. Loan from the Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich, TL40415.1 and Stiftung Archäologie, Munich, TL40416.19. Photo courtesy Stiftung Archäologie, Munich.

Imagine a stroll through ancient Athens among colorful statues and brightly decorated temples—in contrast with the colorless stone ruins that survive today. This exhibition presents full-size copies of Greek and Roman sculpture whose painted decoration, faded over the millennia, has been painstakingly reconstructed.

The color reconstructions are based on close examination and scientific analysis of the scarce traces of paint remaining on the surfaces of the originals and include a number of well-known masterpieces, such as the Peplos Kore from the Athenian Akropolis, pedimental sculpture from the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina, and the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus. The reconstructions will be juxtaposed in the galleries with ancient statues and reliefs from the museum's own collection in their current colorless state of preservation. The exhibition opens up a world of richly attired deities, proud warriors, and barbarians in dazzling costume and dispels a popular misconception of Western art: the white marble statue of classical antiquity. Organized by the Stiftung Archäologie and the Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich, and curated at the Harvard Art Museum by Susanne Ebbinghaus, George M. A. Hanfmann Curator of Ancient Art; and Amy Brauer, Diane Heath Beever Associate Curator of Ancient Art. A brochure accompanies this exhibition.