When they were created, ancient Greek, Etruscan, and Roman sculptures did not have the appearance we see them in museums today. Their surfaces, now mostly ordinary marble, were rather enriched with layers of paint. Polychromy, a term derived from the Greek for “many colors,” refers to the application of this paint, which ancient viewers believed enhanced the work’s meaning and beauty. Like form, color was one of the most important elements of ancient sculpture.
In most cases, only microscopic traces of ancient painting survive, making it difficult to reconstruct the original appearance of these sculptures. Accordingly, it is important to separate evidence from speculation in our interpretations of polychromy on ancient sculptures. Through modern technology, research into ancient literary sources, and comparison with works from various media, curators, scientists and art historians have further discovered the complexity of painting techniques in art. old. Beyond trying to understand ancient color, this research can also improve our knowledge in other fields, notably how the ancient Mediterranean peoples represented themselves, their heroes and their gods through painted sculpture.
This program features insights from Mark Abbe, an expert in ancient polychromy, and curator Katharine Raff and curatorial scientist Giovanni Verri, who will reveal the results of their recent research into the polychromy of works in the museum’s collection.
About the speakers
Marc Abbot received her MA in Art History and Archeology (2007) and her PhD in Greek and Roman Art and Archeology (2013) from New York University, Institute of Fine Arts, as well as an Advanced Certificate in Conservation of historical and artistic works (2007).
Abbe teaches a full range of undergraduate and graduate courses in the history of ancient art. A specialist in Greek and Roman antiquity, he approaches works of art as expressions of culture that are best explained by situating them in their historical, social and philosophical contexts. In addition to extensive archaeological fieldwork in the Mediterranean (Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt), he has professional training in art conservation and scientific research of works of art. He has received research grants from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, the American School of Classical Studies and the American Research Institute in Turkey. Specializing in the study of color in Antiquity, his main areas of current research are Greek and Roman marble sculpture, in particular questions related to their ancient coloring and polychromy, and the digital visualization of historical materials.
He is the founder of the Multidisciplinary Ancient Polychromy Network at the University of Georgia and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Classics.
Catherine raff is Elizabeth McIlvaine, Associate Curator of Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantine Arts. She holds a doctorate in art history from the University of Michigan (2011), where she also obtained a master’s degree in art history (2006) and a certificate in museum studies (2008). While Raff’s main research interests focus on the arts of the Roman world, she has also worked on subjects related to the museum’s collections in Greek, Etruscan and Byzantine art.
Since joining the department in 2011, Raff has played a significant role in a number of major departmental projects, including the full relocation of the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman and Byzantine Art in 2011-12 , as well as exhibitions and installations including A Portrait of Antinous, in Two Parts (2016) and Collecting Stories (2019). Raff was also Editor-in-Chief and Senior Author of Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (2017), an online academic catalog featuring historical and technical original art research on 165 works of Roman art in the collection. , including marble sculptures, coins, glass. , mosaics, jewelry, architectural reliefs and portraits of mummies.
In her role as curator, Raff appreciates the opportunity to discover new storytelling possibilities through the dynamic reconsideration of the collection, finding engaging and innovative ways to make the arts and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world relevant and accessible. to the contemporary public.
Since 2019, Giovanni verri was a conservation scientist in the Department of Conservation and Science. He holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Ferrara, Italy, and a Masters in Conservation of Mural Paintings from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, UK. His research interests include the development and application of investigative techniques for color analysis. In 2007, he developed an imaging technique called visible-induced luminescence imaging, through which it is possible to map the presence of Egyptian blue, a blue pigment widely used in ancient times, even when it is otherwise. invisible to the naked eye. This led to some interesting discoveries about the use of color in ancient times and beyond, including how blue was used in the skin tones of mummy portraits at the Art Institute.
Please note that all event times listed are in central time.
We recommend that you use a laptop or desktop computer and download the latest version of Zoom to take advantage of this program. You can submit questions for speakers in advance or during the program using the Google form below.
If you have any questions about the virtual programming, please contact [email protected]
Closed captioning will be available for this program. For questions regarding accessibility arrangements, please send an email to [email protected]
This conference is generously sponsored by the Boshell Family Foundation.