More sketches of classical statuary, mostly from the ongoing ‘Defining Beauty‘ exhibition at the British Museum, which is so full of wonderful stuff that I ended up doing very fast drawings with a marker pen, out of sight of the guards… There’s the Discobolus, a kouros (youth), draped women, Socrates (twice), a Sphinx, a faun grappling a nymph, and Apollo’s head. The statues are almost all Roman copies of original Greek bronzes, of which very few survive. The last sketch is even more removed; it’s of a modern copy of a Victorian plaster model of a Roman copy of a Greek original (called the Belvedere Apollo which in the C18th was considered to be the epitome of classical sculpture). It’s damp-stained and patinated after years in our back garden.
It’s always hard to remember that the originals would not have been white: ‘Most Greek sculpture that survives from antiquity is carved from white marble. It’s often assumed that there’s a link between the pure freshly cut marble and the idealism of Greek art. In fact, the opposite is true. Colour was intrinsic to ancient ideas of beauty, and sculptures would have been painted in bright colours.’ (Ian Jenkins, British Museum curator).