Greek artists used a wide range of pigments, painting techniques, and surface treatments to embellish marble sculptures in the round. Vibrant colors were selectively applied to emphasize physical features, including the hair, eyes, and lips. Even the nipples and genitalia of this kouros (male youth) have been carefully detailed. Incisions representing body hair appear as stylized sunrays around the nipples, which were also highlighted in an iron-rich pigment, such as hematite. Some traces of color, including the red ocher on the hairband, are still visible to the naked eye. Scientific analysis has also indicated that the pubic hair was artfully painted.
#117. The Director's Tour, First Floor: Statue of a Kouros (Youth), Part 1
117. The Director's Tour, First Floor: Statue of a Kouros (Youth), Part 1
5869. The Director's Tour, First Floor: Statue of a Kouros (Youth), Part 2
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
Detail of the proper left nipple
Marco Leona, David H. Koch Scientist in Charge, is analyzing the area around the kouros’s nipple by fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) in search for possible remains of organic colorants.
The kouros’s surface is analyzed by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry to detect chemical elements that allow to identify pigment remains.
A sample of red paint from the kouros’s hairband seen under the petrographic microscope (left) and the scanning electron microscope (right). The hematite-rich ocher is applied directly to the marble surface. Microchemical analysis of hematite particles detected traces of arsenic, a similar occurrence found in the hematite-rich ocher of the sphinx 11.185d.
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Title:Marble statue of a kouros (youth)
Date:ca. 590–580 BCE
Dimensions:76 5/8 × 20 5/16 × 24 7/8 in. (194.6 × 51.6 × 63.2 cm) Other (height w/o plinth): 76 5/8 in. (194.6 cm) Other (Height of Head): 12 in. (30.5 cm) Other (Length of face): 8 7/8 in. (22.6 cm) Other (shoulder width): 20 5/16 in. (51.6 cm)
Credit Line:Fletcher Fund, 1932
Said to be from Attica (Richter 1931, p. 220)
[Until 1931, with Jacob Hirsch, New York]; acquired October 6, 1931, purchased from Jacob Hirsch, New York.
Beazley, John D. 1932. Greek Sculpture & Painting to the End of the Hellenistic Period. p. 20, fig. 34, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Estrin, Seth. 2023. "Archaic Sculpture and Archaisms of Gender:
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