10 November 2010

Painted blood on the pedestal of a sculpture?

Last spring I wrote "A reminder that ancient statuary was often painted" (q.v. if you weren't reading the blog then).  I wonder if the painting above shows another example of this practice.

The piece is entitled Children Playing before a Hercules Group," by Adriaan van der Werff (1687).  A brief search didn't provide me with any discussion/analysis of the painting itself.  What I find interesting is the pedestal holding the sculpture of Hercules clubbing the ?monster.  It appears that red pigment/paint/blood is dripping down from the scene of the battle.  I wonder if that was done by the original sculptor, by the public as a form of graffiti, or whether I'm misinterpreting pollution/weathering etc.

Are there any art majors out there who can step in with some authoritative musings about this??

Image via Miss Folly.


  1. I don't believe the colored areas represent painted blood. For one thing the rest of the statue isn't painted. For another they can be seen on both visible sides of the pedestal, and are similar in size and shape.

    My suggestions are (a) they represent stains caused by water runoff or (b) they are supposed to be veins in the marble of which the pedestal is made.

    Arguing against (a) is the fact that the rest of the statue isn't weathered; arguing against (b) is that the red shapes seem too straight and regular to be marble veins.

  2. I think many statues are joined or re-forced with Iron which presumable leaks a stain. Even nominally non-rusting metals could do that too. Look at any unpainted picket or panel fence and all the screws have black stains running down from them.


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