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Seeing Color in Classical Art
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Book description

The remains of ancient Mediterranean art and architecture that have survived over the centuries present the modern viewer with images of white, the color of the stone often used for sculpture. Antiquarian debates and recent scholarship, however, have challenged this aspect of ancient sculpture. There is now a consensus that sculpture produced in the ancient Mediterranean world, as well as art objects in other media, were, in fact, polychromatic. Color has consequently become one of the most important issues in the study of classical art. Jennifer Stager's landmark book makes a vital contribution to this discussion. Analyzing the dyes, pigments, stones, earth, and metals found in ancient art works, along with the language that writers in antiquity used to describe color, she examines the traces of color in a variety of media. Stager also discusses the significance of a reception history that has emphasized whiteness, revealing how ancient artistic practice and ancient philosophies of color significantly influenced one another.


‘…Seeing Color in Classical Art will be welcomed by the increasingly receptive audience for color and pigment studies in the wider Mediterranean world. I applaud the author for recasting the color debate in new and creative ways and for assembling a group of wonderful images.’

Ada Cohen - Professor of Art History and Israel Evans Professor in Oratory and Belles Lettres, Dartmouth College

‘Seeing Color in Classical Art stands to make a much-needed intervention in the field due to the author’s ability to bring the study of material traces of color in Greek art into conversation not only with literary and philosophical models of color perception in antiquity, but also to frame this recovery of ancient color in thought and practice within the complex theoretical, political, and historiographical reception of classicism. This is a high wire act that the book admirably pulls off, thanks to the sophistication of Stager’s intellectual approach and her command of the art-historical landscape.’

Verity Platt - Department Chair of Classics and Professor of Classics and History of Art, Cornell University

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  • Introduction
    pp 1-30


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