Gods in Color

Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity

Theme Digitorial

Find out everything worth knowing about “Gods in Color”.


8 October 2008 to 15 February 2009

Antique marble sculpture was not white, but colored. This is amply and overwhelmingly attested to by ancient literary sources. Whereas the incontestable fact that ancient sculpture was colored was suppressed during the Italian Renaissance, it was recalled in the nineteenth century; in the twentieth century, it once again paled into insignificance, giving way to an aestheticism directed at clarity. Numerous traces of the original polychromy in antique sculpture have survived. They bear testimony to Greek and Roman statues having worn elaborately ornamented garments painted with precious pigments.

For 25 years, an international team of scholars led by Vinzenz Brinkmann, head of the Collection of Antiques of the Liebieghaus, has been conducting research that has brought to light a multitude of new findings. The exhibition “Gods in Color” has resulted from this research project. It juxtaposed some 70 originals – such as polychrome terracottas, marble statuary, and mummy portraits – with more than 30 spectacular reconstructions bringing “colorful antiquity” back to life.

Curator Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Brinkmann (Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung)
Sponsored by Bank of America and Škoda Auto Deutschland GmbH
With additional support from Caparol Farben Lacke Bautenschutz, the FAZIT-Foundation and Karstadt Frankfurt-Zeil
Media partners Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, hr2-kultur, Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main

Gods in Color on tour

The successful Liebieghaus show has meanwhile been touring the world for fifteen years and delighted more than two million visitors. Each venue presents further reconstructions – along with new insights into ancient polychromy – and brings the once brightly coloured look of antiquity’s sculptures back to life. A suspenseful journey with no end in sight.

    Overview of all exhibition venues

    Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich, Germany (December 2003 to February 2004)
    Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark (March to May 2004)
    Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy (November 2004 to January 2005)
    Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig, Basel, Switzerland (August to November 2005)
    Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (August to November 2005)
    National Archaeological Museum, Athen, Greece (January to March 2006)
    Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Istanbul, Turkey (April to July 2006)
    Museum of Arts and Crafts, Hamburg, Germany (April to July 2007)
    Harvard Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Havard University, Cambridge (Massachusetts), USA (September 2007 to January 2008)
    The Getty Villa, Malibu (Los Angeles), USA (March to June 2008)
    Museum für Abgüsse Klassischer Bildwerke, Munich, Germany (June to August 2008)
    Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt on the Main (October 2008 to February 2009)
    Museum Palace Wilhelmshöhe Collection of Antiques, Kassel, Germany (March to June 2009)
    Museo Arqueológico Regional de la comunidad de Madrid, Spain (December 2009 to April 2010)
    Pergamon Museum, Berlin State Museums, Berlin, Germany (July to October 2010)
    Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden (October 2010 to January 2011)
    University of Göttingen, Department of Archaeology/University Collections, Göttingen, Germany (March to July 2011)
    Heidelberg University, Institute for Classical Archaeology/University Collections, Heidelberg, Germany (October 2011 to May 2012)
    Winckelmann-Museum, Stendal, Germany (December 2011 to April 2012)
    Art collections of Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany (June to October 2012)
    Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria (November 2012 to March 2013)
    Museum der Universität Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, Germany (April to August 2014)
    Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark (September to December 2014)
    Ashmolean Museum, Cast Collection, Oxford, Great Britain (January to June 2015)
    The British Museum, London, Great Britain (March to June 2015)
    Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico (October 2016 to January 2017)
    Legion of Honor, San Francisco, USA (October 2017 to January 2018)