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Famous Sculptures: A Love Affair with Marble

by Kevin Fritz

Posted on October 05, 2017 02:00:00 PM

The human race has always had a love affair with marble, especially white marble. The gleaming natural stone with light gray veining has been the material of choice for centuries. Remarkably, for a soft stone, it stands the test of time—a long time. Iconic works of art, such as David and Venus de Milo, carved centuries ago remain in superb condition. And to think these types of works were carved with ancient tools out of slabs of marble weighing several tons.


The early moral of this story is that marble has never fell out of favor, which is why an inventory flush with slabs of marble is not only smart, but profitable. Savvy consumers know that marble will last beyond their years. And like diamonds are to gems, marble is the queen of natural stones. The sleek whites and veiny grays will forever draw people to your inventory of marble, like a moth to a flame. 


Homeowners with an infinity for class dream of stunning marble kitchen countertops, although being composed of calcium carbonate, it is susceptible to etching, caused by acidic foods and drinks like tomatoes and wine. Nonetheless, many homeowners and even business owners, believe few other natural stones will do when building or redesigning. The great sculptors believed the same, creating timeless art from a timeless stone.


The Parthenon Marbles, dating back to the 400s BC, were originally part of the Parthenon and other buildings in ancient Greece. They are also known as the Elgin Marbles for the man who brought them to London in 1817. This collection of marble sculptures are on display in the British Museum.


Discobolus Lancellotti, known to us as the Discus Thrower, was discovered 1871 and can be seen at the National Rome Museum’s Palazzo Massimo. The marble wonder of an athletic figure in motion, it is a replica of an acclaimed bronze statue by Myron, created in 5th century BC. The discus thrower is believed to have been carved from marble between 138-193 AD.


Permanently resting in the venerable Louvre, Aphrodite of Milos, aka Venus de Milo, the half-naked, half-body statue was discovered in 1820 on the island of Melos by Marquis de Rivière and it has been on display in Paris ever since. Venus de Milo was sculpted from two blocks of marble, and extremities were added with pegs. She was believed to have been embellished with polychromy, colorful paintings and inlays, which were popular with Greek and Roman artists. Her arms remain a mystery, as does her maker.


Michelangelo's Pietais made of marble


Michelangelo rose to fame after carving the Pieta from marble, which can be seen in the Vatican. He was commissioned when living in Rome in 1497 to sculpt the image of the Virgin Mary holding a dead Jesus Christ after the crucifixion. He carved the masterpiece from a block of Carrara White Marble that he said was the most perfect block he had ever worked with and polished the piece to a higher gloss than any other bearing his name.


When Michelangelo was only 26 years old he was commissioned to sculpt David in 1501, one of the most recognizable marble statues in the world. It took the master two years to complete the 14-foot tall, gleaming white, male from an enormous block of Carrara marble. Quarried in Fantiscistti in Carrara, the slab stood 18 feet high. David first stood in Piazza della Signoria, the heart of Florence, and was moved into its present home, the Galleria dell’ Accademia in 1873. Michelangelo, like many that followed, had a love for quarried marble, creating works of art that still take your breath away more than 500 years later. 


White Carrara marble, with its shades of white and gray is especially sought after, polished or honed.  An exquisite natural stone depicting beauty and grace, White Carrara marble adds elegance to any room by creating shimmering marble counters, marble vanity tops and marble floor tiles.


The Calacatta marbles like Calacatta Borghini marble, with bolder veining, are high-end marbles that people mistake for Carrara Marble because they all come from the Carrara region of Italy. Stunning and sophisticated, Calacatta Marbles are also quite versatile. And because they are only quarried in Carrara, its rarity ensures homeowners they will gain the originality they desire.  Slabs of both Carrara and Calacatta are a must for any natural stone yard.