Polychromy is the art of employing many or various colors in decoration, especially in reference to architecture, pottery or sculpture. Polychrome decoration has existed since the Bronze age. Ancient Greek sculpture was painted in bright colors, bold patterns and lifelike colors. Sometimes other materials were added such as metals, gilt, glass, semi-precious jewels, patterned marble, fiber and leather to bring pieces to life. The J. Paul Getty Trust has been involved in promoting the study of polychromy in sculpture. (see The Color of Life, published in conjunction with an exhibit of the same name in 2008) The art was rarely practiced at the turn of the century in America, so those sculptors who experimented in it, rarely showed their work for fear of ridicule. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a description of Herbert Adams work states, “Adams was one of only a handful of Americans who experimented around the turn of the century with polychromy and the use of multiple materials in a single work.”

Reference: St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio (1930)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *