Colors of Greece and Rome

Both pure white classic sculptures and sandstone reliefs were a washed in color from Egypt to Greece to Rome. The only reason they are so pristine looking today in lack of color is age… the colors simplicity faded.

In the white marble classic sculptures while yes the technique and structure of the work is exceptional, the emphasis was not to who “white” as a superior color. No in fact most of the work was highly colored, almost to what we would in today’s world call garnish. But once again we must look to the time context where there was a mixture of people in these areas as depicted in the various artworks. So it is not unheard of to have statues/reliefs in varying hues, and all of them would had been a wonderful compliment to the era.

This is really not anything new, as the paint had been noticed and recorded on various sculptures. What is new is the false interpretation of the white being the epitome of Greek or Roman art, the emphasis on perfection of the stone’s color while ignoring the traces of color.  The article stresses that we need to remember the culture of the Greeks and Romans was diverse and their art also being diverse represented that culture. Thus we should see the statues as colorful, vibrant…..



Classicist Receives Death Threats from Alt-Right over Art Historical Essay (ArtForum) (June 15, 2017)

Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color  by Sarah E. Bond (HyperAllergic) (June 7, 2017)

Colouring in the past by Rachel Brazils (Chemistry World) (May 8, 2017)

The Argument Made By The Absence: On Whiteness, Polychromy, And Diversity In Classics by Sarah Bond  (Sarah Emily Bond’s Blog) ( April 30, 2017)
The Argument Made By The Absence: On Whiteness, Polychromy, And Diversity In Classics

Whitewashing Ancient Statues: Whiteness, Racism And Color In The Ancient Worldby Sarah Bond  (Forbes) ( April 27, 2017)

Polychromy of Roman Marble bt Mark B. Abbe (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) (April 2007)

Light Projections Bring Color and Lost Glory to the Temple of Dendur by  Claire Voon February 10, 2016 (HyperAllergic) (February 10, 2016)

What Do Classical Antiquities Look Like in Color? by Jillian Steinhauer (HyperAllergic) (October 29, 2014)

Nanotech Explains Ancient Roman Color-Changing Cup by An Xiao  (HyperAllergic) (September 17, 2013)


The Color of Life March 6–June 23, 2008 at the Getty Villa



About jasterling

One part of my life is in the science of anthropology and archaeology where I did comparative work. My other life that I am now pursuing is writing along the lines of fantasy/sci fi fictional writing as my one way to stay sane in this other insane world. Please enjoy the selections you will find in my blog.
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