Jens Stenger started an appointment at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen on March 1 this year, to join the research project on ancient polychromy, led by Cecilie Brøns and financed by the Carlsberg Foundation. He is a physicist by training and has previously held positions at the Cologne Institute for Conservation Sciences, the Swiss Institute for Art Research, Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, and the Harvard Art Museums. At Harvard, he worked on the non-invasive colour restoration of Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals using light from a digital projector. Jens’ research interests include colour and light, combining imaging techniques and chemical analysis, technical art history, and modern materials. He will join New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts as an Assistant Professor of Conservation Science in the Spring semester, 2022.
Image © Jens Stenger
In November 2020, Dr Elisabetta Neri, a post-doctoral fellow at the atomic and nuclear spectroscopy laboratory at the University of Liège, was awarded a European MSCA Individual Fellowship for a period of two years, in order to study the significance of the polychromy of Roman imperial statues (1st-4th century AD), on an unprecedented scale.
The project, named “PolyCRomA”, proposes the first systematic study of the use of colour in the statuary of an important Roman province, and will consider 20 statues from the collections of the Bardo museum in Tunisia. The variety of typologies, qualities and provenances (local, Asia Minor, Rome) of the statues in this corpus holds up a mirror to African society of the period. Moreover, as the archaeological context of discovery is well known, the meaning of the polychromy will be analysed in relation with the socio-political and religious purpose with which these artefacts were conceived. The preserved traces of colour will first be documented by coupling visual investigation (with the support of multispectral imaging and UV and VIL videomicroscope) and in-situ analyses (XRF and μRaman) in order to identify the techniques used to colour the statues. Selected micro-samples will undergo further quantitative analyses (PIXE, SEM/EDX, hyperspectral imaging, FT-IR). Finally, literary and epigraphic sources of Proconsular Africa mentioning the colour of statues will be inventoried and the use of colour on the statues will be compared with their counterparts in painting and mosaic.
To follow the project and learn more about the team and the institutions involved, see:
Image © PolyCRomA (University of Liège).
"MANN in Colors", is a research project established in 2018 to study the polychromy of masterpieces of Classical sculpture at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN).
After three successful years, including staggering findings from important pieces of sculpture such as the famous, “Venus in a bikini” statuette and the "Venus marina" from Pompeii (pictured), the project will now enter a new two-year phase, via a prestigious collaboration that will unite the National Archaeological Museum of Naples and the Department of Chemical Sciences and Technologies of the University of Rome "Tor Vergata".
This phase of the project entitled, "ECOValors" (Eco-Sustainable project for Conservation and Valorization of colour traces on Marble sculptures), will take as its point of departure the analytical results obtained by Cristiana Barandoni (creator and scientific curator of the "MANN in Colors" project) and Andrea Rossi (responsible for the diagnostic investigations). The team from the University of Rome, which uses sustainable methodologies, or “Green Chemistry”, for its investigations into issues such as, air quality and pollutants, in relation to cultural heritage, will participate in the creation of a protocol for the conservation and protection of works on whose surfaces traces of colour have been discovered. It is hoped that the creation and dissemination of such a protocol will help institutions worldwide to safeguard the remains of polychromy on their sculpture from environmental effects, for the enjoyment of future generations.
The "Venus in a bikini" (left): recent investigations have shown green pigments present on the tree trunk. The dress of the goddess was also originally embellished with rose madder (right), Egyptian blue and gold.
Image © Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN).
The "Venus Marina" (left): the statue was irradiated with ultraviolet light and the resulting pink luminescence (right) is an unequivocal sign of the ancient use of rose madder.
Image © Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN).
"Therapéia. Polychromie et restauration de la sculpture dans l'antiquité" (Technè vol. 40, 2014, ed. by B. Bourgeois) is now open access!
This richly illustrated volume deals with polychrome sculpture and its conservation in Antiquity. It explores this important yet obscure topic in an interdisciplinary manner, by combining literary, epigraphic and archaeological data with results of in-depth scientific investigation. The love for colour and the care taken in keeping valuable objects in pristine condition, particularly by way of repainting, re-gilding, waxing (ganôsis) is thus demonstrated on objects of various historical contexts: Egyptian wood furniture, Cypriot limestone portraits, ivory sculptures from Macedonian chryselephantine klinai, Greek terracotta figurines, Ptolemaic royal marble head of Berenike II etc. Several of the case-studies deal with objects kept in the Antiquities departments of the Louvre museum.
For open access go to: https://journals.openedition.org/techne/2943
The Call for papers is now OPEN for this special issue, which will collect contributions to the 9th Polychromy Round Table & also invites articles from researchers who may be considering ancient polychromy from the Greco-Roman world & comparative studies from their own interdisciplinary viewpoints, geographical areas & time periods.
For more information, see:
The deadline is 31st December 2021.
The 8th International Round Table, held at the C2RMF in Paris, on 15-16 November 2016, has been published in Technè Journal, vol. 48, 2019.
The printed volume may be purchased online at https://www.lcdpu.fr/revues/techne/ & will be open access from July 2021 at https://journals.openedition.org/techne/
The news of the death of Ian Jenkins (Curator in the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum), who passed away on 28th November 2020, was received by all with great sadness.
Ian will be remembered by so many as a dear colleague, mentor and friend who gave his whole working life to the British Museum in a distinguished career which spanned more than 42 years. He was passionate about the study of polychromy in ancient Greek sculpture and architecture.
The following obituaries for Ian have recently been published:
The Telegraph describes Ian as the British Museum curator who opposed calls to return the Elgin marbles to Greece. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2020/12/07/ian-jenkins-british-museum-curator-opposed-calls-return-elgin/
The Guardian publishes an obituary for Ian Jenkins written by former British Museum Deputy Director, Andrew Burnett. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/dec/15/ian-jenkins-obituary
The Times obituary describes Ian as ‘Curator at the British Museum and revered expert on ancient Greece who staunchly opposed calls to return the Elgin Marbles’. Full obituary here.
The Art Newspaper's is written by Susan Walker who describes Ian as ‘a scholar and British Museum curator who enriched all who met him with his passion for classical Greece’. https://www.theartnewspaper.com/feature/ian-jenkins-british-museum-obituary
ARTnews also published an obituary for Ian writing, ‘Jenkins joined the British Museum in 1978 and wound up shaping how ancient Greek art was presented there. As a classics scholar, he was concerned with how the presentation of such architectural works within the museum’s galleries informed the viewer’s perspective...'. https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/ian-jenkins-british-museum-curator-dead-1234579601/
Ian Dennis Jenkins, classical scholar and archaeologist, born 18 February 1953; died 28 November 2020.
Ian Jenkins in the garden at the British School at Athens. Photograph: British School at Athens.
PolyCRomA" - The meaning of colour in Roman Africa - 08/04/2021
Call for papers open on Special issue of Heritage on "Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture" - 19/02/2021
New publication - Technè Journal, vol. 48 - 16/12/2020
Remembering Ian Jenkins - 16/12/2020
Share this page: