Project News!Illusion and allusion. Rediscovering colours in Roman and early medieval architecture

The biennial project (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan; Università di Torino) is supported by the Italian Ministry of University and Research and constitutes a pilot research on the constituent characteristics of the ‘skin’ of Roman and early medieval buildings in north-western Italy: the original colour and treatment of masonry surfaces and structural/decorative components are a key part of fragile, crumbling architecture of which only fleeting traces often remain. The study of the architectural complex as a whole (traces of polychromy on elements of architectural decoration/structures and finishing techniques of masonry facings) is crucial for reconstructing the original appearance of architectural heritage and understanding how it was perceived in its era, an immaterial aspect that should not be ignored in the investigation of the past. The focus is therefore colour, both that of the material itself but especially the colour applied to surfaces with various techniques, which conditions the interpretation of decorative and structural details, generating phenomena of illusion and allusion, the significance of which changes over time.

Added: 09/04/2024

Painted fragments of Vicenza stone ionic capitals from the Roman villa of Sirmione, Italy. 

Image © Furio Sacchi.

Detail of a pillar from the Basilica of Saint Simplician in Milan, Italy. 

Image © Paola Greppi.

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