Painting in Stone : Architecture and the Poetics of Marble from Antiquity to the Enlightenment

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A sweeping history of premodern architecture told through the material of stone

Spanning almost five millennia, Painting in Stone tells a new history of premodern architecture through the material of precious stone. Lavishly illustrated examples include the synthetic gems used to simulate Sumerian and Egyptian heavens; the marble temples and mansions of Greece and Rome; the painted palaces and polychrome marble chapels of early modern Italy; and the multimedia revival in 19th-century England. Poetry, the lens for understanding costly marbles as an artistic medium, summoned a spectrum of imaginative associations and responses, from princes and patriarchs to the populace.

Three salient themes sustained this "lithic imagination": marbles as images of their own elemental substance according to premodern concepts of matter and geology; the perceived indwelling of astral light in earthly stones; and the enduring belief that colored marbles exhibited a form of natural-or divine-painting, thanks to their vivacious veining, rainbow palette, and chance images.

Apollo Magazine's Book of the Year


  • Author: Fabio Barry
  • Paperback: 432 pages 
  • Date published: December 2021
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0300248173
  • Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 22.0 cm

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