Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity

, 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.

Arthur M. Sackler Museum

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—based on close examination and scientific analysis of the scarce traces of paint remaining on the surfaces of the originals—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 Art Museums’ 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.

A brochure accompanies this exhibition.

Organized by the Stiftung Archäologie and the Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich, the exhibition was conceived by Vinzenz Brinkmann and Raimund Wünsche, and curated at the Harvard University Art Museums by Susanne Ebbinghaus, George M. A. Hanfmann Curator of Ancient Art, and Amy Brauer, Diane Heeth Beever Associate Curator of Ancient Art.

Funding for the exhibition and its publications was provided by Christopher and Jean Angell, Walter and Ursula Cliff, Mark B. Fuller, the German Consulate General Boston, the German Foreign Office, Evangelos D. Karvounis, James and Sonia Kay, Roy Lennox and Joan Weberman, Marian Marill, Markus Michalke, Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, Samuel Plimpton, Laura and Lorenz Reibling, the Ida and William Rosenthal Foundation, and two anonymous donors.