Brigitte Bourgeois

Trends in Hellenistic polychromy: evidence from Delos

In the field of studies on ancient Greek polychromy, the rich corpus of Hellenistic marble sculpture and terracotta figurines from Delos deserves special attention. Already studied to some extent in the past, it has yielded over the last ten years a new wealth of information, through a research program developped by Brigitte Bourgeois and Philippe Jockey (Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France / Ecole Française d’Athènes).

A broader and deeper understanding of the technical choices and values attached to the final surface coloured treatment has thus been obtained, on a large scale, for a site particularly important during the late Hellenistic period (IInd-early Isrt centuries B.C.).

Much evidence has been gathered on the prevalence of a strong taste for bright, “florides” colours and luxury materials (gold in the first place), and on pictorial practices aiming at a more mimetic and naturalistic rendering. Such features are well in accordance with what has been characterized as a main trend in Hellenistic art. However it appears that at times different painting options were selected. These would involve a more “austere” way of painting, by using only earth-pigments, or refer to the tradition of chryselephantine pieces.

The paper will present a few case-studies to illustrate the point and reflect upon its implications.

Brigitte Bourgeois

Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art / Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Paris