Classical sculpture refers loosely to the forms of sculpture from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as well as the Hellenized and Romanized civilizations under their rule or influence from about 500 BC to around 200 AD. More precisely it refers to Ancient Greek sculpture from around 500 BC to the onset of the Hellenistic style around 323 BC. It may also refer stylistically to later sculpture done in a Neoclassical or classical style. Classical sculptures have been popular since the Renaissance. Only those works that closely follow the canon of classical forms would fall under the term. In addition to free standing statues, the term classical sculpture incorporates relief work (such as the famous Elgin Marbles of the Parthenon) and the flatter bas-relief style. Whereas sculptural works emphasized the human form, reliefs were employed to create elaborate decorative scenes. Ancient statues and bas-reliefs survive showing the bare surface of the material of which they are made, and people generally associate classical art with white marble sculpture. But there is evidence that many statues were painted in bright colours. Most of the colour was weathered off over time; small remnants were removed during cleaning; in some cases small traces remained which could be identified. A travelling exhibition of 20 coloured replicas of Greek and Roman works, alongside 35 original statues and reliefs, was held in Europe and the United States in 2008: Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity. Details such as whether the paint was applied in one or two coats, how finely the pigments were ground, or exactly which binding medium would have been used in each case—all elements that would affect the appearance of a finished piece—are not known.
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