Bringing the Color Back to Ancient Greece
The white marble statutes we revere were originally dressed in eye-popping pigments
The Greeks took their beauty seriously. It was a beauty contest, after all, that touched off the Trojan War. Athena, Hera and Aphrodite vied for Paris to decide who was the fairest among them. After Aphrodite promised him the love of the most beautiful mortal woman, Paris carried off Helen to Troy. Thus began the true mother of all wars.
As the goddess of love, beauty and sexual pleasure, Aphrodite inspired cult worship and challenged artists to render her in suitably magnificent form. We have inherited an image of her as an idealized nude chiseled in white marble, immortalized by works such as Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Knidos or the Venus de Milo.