Selected objects

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The purpose of this website is to develop a broader public awareness of polychromy studies. By using this online service you will be able to gain knowledge of the current research on a museum or institute near you. It is a resource dedicated to research on the use of colour on sculptures and buildings in the ancient Mediterranean world.

On this website you will find an introduction to the field. It also provides information on the history of polychromy scholarship and updated information on current research. The user has access to a database of literature on ancient polychromy and of monuments known to have traces of their original colouring.

Read more here: About

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Are you interested in registering as a professional user of the Tracking Colour website?

The bibliographical database is available in full to all users of the website. The data held in the objects database is however not fully accessible. Full access is limited to professional users.
Read more here: Registration application


In 2012, three highly polished Roman portraits from the 3rd century AD were examined for traces of original paint with the aid of microscopy, photo-analytical techniques and x-ray fluorescence analysis (IN 821, 822 and 826). The portraits all bore traces of a complete polychrome paint treatment, which also covered the high-gloss, polished skin surfaces.
The aim of the reconstruction was to visualise the effect the highly-polished marble surface had on the painting of the skin. And so the process itself – creating the reconstruction – investigates which techniques may have been used by the ancient craftsmen in the painting of marble sculpture.

This reconstructing is a work in progress and represents how the polychromy team at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek interprets the scientific results. It is funded by Kirsten and Freddy Johansens foundation. For more information see the catalogue for the exhibition “Transformations. Classical sculpture in colour”.

See also this short video on the time-consuming, inspiring and sometimes frustrating process of creating the reconstruction.

TRANSFORMATIONS. Classical sculpture in colour.

Exhibition at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek: 13.9 – 7.12 2014

Antiquity was white – as white as marble! For hundreds of years this fact has been one of the mainstays in the story of the origin of Western culture: and it remains firmly anchored in the notion we still have of our own culture today. This autumn’s major special exhibition at the Glyptotek turns the idea of the white world of Antiquity upside down and shows that Greek and Roman sculpture were colourful to a degree.

For more information visit the museum website.

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Visit Tracking Colour

Tracking Colour is housed at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. Here students and otherwise interested visitors have the uportunity to experience the research into ancient polychrome sculpture first hand.

To book a guided tour visit the museum website.

Preliminary report 5 (2013) is available for download

See also Preliminary report 1 (2009), Preliminary report 2 (2010), Preliminary report 3 (2011) and Preliminary report 4 (2012).