Theses Doctoral

Painting in Stone: The Symbolism of Colored Marbles in the Visual Arts and Literature from Antiquity until the Enlightenment

Barry, Fabio

Colored marble has been used throughout the Mediterranean as a building material, architectural veneer, sculptural material, even a support for painting since at least the second century BC. This thesis examines the poetics and symbolism of marbles, as a medium more than a material, over many centuries along three predominant lines: as images of substance according to a pre-modern concept of matter and pre-modern notions of geology; marble's apparent ability to bear light due to its polish and occasional translucency; and the longue durée that colored marbles constituted a form of natural (hence divine) painting. The use of marble in architecture and sculpture, as well as its depiction in painting and its description in literature, is examined from the Augustan era up untnil the close of the seventeenth century. Examples range from Durham to Samarra, from Ottoman folklore to popular piety in Florida, from Etruscan tomb painting to installation art, but key monuments like Hagia Sophia and the Cornaro Chapel offer case studies for in-depth analysis.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Connors, Joseph
Rosand, David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 25, 2013