Color in figurines
As we see them today, the figurines are white, the color of marble. But, the ancient artists who created them, used to paint them. They painted the hair, the eyes, the mouth and other details, which were lost with the passing of time.
What colors did they use?
They used blue and black to paint the eyes, eyebrows and hair. They used red to paint the mouth, as well as to decorate the face, neck and body.
How did they make the paint?
To create a pigment, they first ground a fragment of rock into powder which they then mixed with some binder, like oil. If we look very carefully, we can still discern traces of color on some figurines.
The paints they used were found in nature. They were minerals that contained metallic oxides, mostly bronze and iron. The color blue came from azurite, red from hematite and cinnabar. Other colors they used -although not often- were black and green.
On other figurines, details such as the eyes, the eyebrows and the hair seem to be modeled in relief against the rest of the surface. The paint that covered these areas protected the marble surface from erosion, thus preserving it in a better condition.
➜ Compare the figurines that we see today in the color of marble with other works of art from the Archaic and Classical periods, which were also colored.