|Earlier today, in the List called Classics-L, Ralph Hancock posted something really interesting to me. I am not one of those who merely search for things that I am already aware of; I read this List daily. He said:|
An interesting feature of the Ara Pacis site is pictures of an attempt
to show the structure's original colours by projecting a digital image
on to it:
Curiously, the effect resembles the Art Nouveau polychrome tiling that
was fashionable, especially in Britain, in the early 1900s. I don't
think that its creators had any intention at all of recalling a
classical original; such classical forms as it has are routine
See, for example, the Warrington Hotel, in the Maida Vale area of London
The most famous example of this style is the Harrods Meat and Fish Hall (1906):
Seeing that the wonderful image of the Warrington Hotel porch is Mr. Hancock's own, I renew his own link here (together with his message), since the old Classics-L does not accept any images.
For Warrington Hotel image, try this link, too.
But the message needs some help.
The creators of the wonderful work in London had EVERY intention and excellent knowledge of how to revive ancient decorative polychromy, especially in the floral and geometric elements, though nothing here (despite the dates in the first decade of our twentieth century) is Art Nouveau. It is much too pure for that, and there is plenty of evidence for the coloring of the architectural elements of the Ara Pacis itself, not to assert, of course, that every hue can be vouched for.
I shall have to use some of my oldest teaching materials, made 20 years ago from 35mm slides that already were about 30 years old and those taken from old books or else taken with a pre-digital camera in very ill-lit spaces. In those years, just to show students that such things existed, I'd take a slide several stops underexposed, for example.
First consider the vermilion and relief in gold leaf represented in this famous painting from Boscoreale, which is Augustan:
|Detail from the Boscoreale cubiculum now in the Metropolitan Museum|