The Easel

How polychrome sculpture revolutionised art in 19th-century France

It was only realized in the 19th century that ancient sculptures had been painted in vivid colours. Once the penny dropped coloured sculpture became the vogue. Some felt that to popularize art was to debase it. But the weight of opinion was elsewhere “Coloured sculpture wasn’t just beautiful; it was part of a revolution in what it meant to make and consume art at the end of the 19th century.”