Friday, 22 May 2015

Gods in Colour, Ashmolean Museum

The travelling exhibition Gods in Colour at the Ashmolean comes as a real shock. 'Shock of the Ancient'. It demolishes preconceptions of  pure white marble antique sculpture.

Lion, From Loutraki near Corinth, c 550BC
(Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen)

The exhibition is mounted in collaboration with German archeologists Vincenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann based on Brinkmann's research into ancient poly-chromy. He proved (scientifically) that ancient statues were far more colourful than we had ever imagined. And not just any colour, not pastel colour, no  vibrant, bright, brilliant, colour.

Head of Warrior. From east pediment of temple of  Aphaia, c 490 BC
(Gylptothek, Munich)

To illustrate this the plaster casts are painted with authentic pigments that matched the traces found on the originals.

Trojan archer and shield with eagle and snake,
from the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia on Aigina

More than twenty of these painted casts are shown alongside casts from the Ashmolean's own collection.

Armoured torso from Athenian Acropolis c 470 BC
(New Acropolis Museum)

The exhibition shows us that this is how the Greeks and the Romans saw their sculptures. Brilliant.

Theseus and Antiopie From the west temple of  Apollo Daphenephorus, 
Eretria, c490 BC (Archeological Museum, Eretria)