Were the ancients tasteless?

I was just admiring some ancient sculptures…

The Dying Gaul

And your everyday busts…

… when I remembered reading about modern attempts to re-create the original colours. They’ve tried to detect the ancient pigments still remaining on the sculptures – which has lead to the following monstrosities:

Archer - Parthenon (c. 490 BC)

Caesar Augustus

Sarcophagus of Alexander

I sincerely hope there has been an error in here somewhere. The garishness is unbearable. Do I have to include the ancients among those cultures with a lack of taste (ie. Indians and their gods and temples)?

In hope of avoiding this, I went in search of somewhere where colours from the ancient world still remain. Consider the frescoes from Pompeii. They are really beautiful, I think. The first one I’ll show actually includes a painted statue, and I can’t see that it bears much resemblance to the above – it suggests painted statues might have had similar colour schemes to the frescoes:

And here a few other frescoes. Even if they have faded somewhat, or colours changed a little, they would never have been as gaudy as the statues above:

The Fresco: Pompei - Naples, Naples

My rationalization is that if they showed taste in their frescoes, they might not have engaged in such gaudiness in their statuary. In support of this theory, I offer this hideous Indian fresco, as one would expect given their other artwork:

But, I guess I’ll have to leave it up to the experts.

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4 thoughts on “Were the ancients tasteless?

  1. Well, there is another team of Germans that was creating similar paint schemes…

    And we know that they did paint them, which is bad in the first place. But what I’m hoping is that either the reconstructed colours are actually quite interpretive, or (and also) the base levels of paint, which were more likely to be preserved, are misleading about the finished look.

  2. Pingback: A few interesting links « Patriactionary

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