Polychrome and Gilded: the world of the statues seen otherwise

The marble statues admired today in the museum were not white originally.

They were painted in colors and often gilded. Praxiteles when asked which sculptures he preferred he characteristically answered: the ones painted by Nikias.

It is unfortunate that after a long burial the colors are irretrievably lost. Nevertheless traces of color still remain which, although not always discernible by the naked eye, they can be detected by modern technology. 

Thus using nondestructive techniques such as multispectral imaging and elemental analysis by X-ray fluorescence we are able to understand to a considerable degree the original polychrome appearance.

On May 20th on the occasion of the International Museum Day the Department of Conservation, Physical and Chemical Research & Archaeometry  presented the application of diagnostic technology to the Hellenistic statue of the type of Small Herculaneum woman from Delos.

Kalliope Tsakri, Conservator of Antiquities and Works of Art – Conservation Scientist, Laboratory of Physical and Chemical Research and Archaeometry.
Ioannis Panagakos, Conservator of Antiquities and Works of Art, Sculpture Conservation Workshop.

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