Cartouches with Coat of Arms, Town Hall

Icon Polychromy4. Polychromy

Today, the original colours of decorated stonework are often not easy to identify at first glance, even though it was a very common and widespread tradition, stretching from the beginning of the Classical period through the Middle Ages and right up to modern era, to create more lively and expressive pieces. In the 19th century in particular, the catastrophic trend to strip all types of objects back to their basic material meant that countless works of art were robbed of their polychrome in order to bring the building material, usually stone, to the fore. Nowadays, restorers use scalpels, magnifying glasses and microscopes to search meticulously for the remains of the original versions so that they can document, preserve and – in some cases – reconstruct the objects.

Knowledge of the pigments and binding material used is the basic requirement for a serious examination of the object from an art history perspective, using these important artistic and conservation techniques.

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