ancient roman

Join Hilary Baker, a renowned expert on ancient pigments, as she discusses her research on Pliny the Elder. Natural history or Natural history (77 AD). Baker studied ancient Roman text for insight into the craft materials artists were using at the time, such as gold foil, Egyptian blue, and oyster purple.

In her discussion of this research, Baker shares what Pliny can tell us about the marketing and use of pigments during this period of Roman history before sitting down with Art Institute conservation scientist Giovanni Ferri and curator Catherine Ruff to search the museum’s collection for traces of antiquity. color.

This examination is particularly appropriate, as we celebrate the 2000th anniversary of Pliny’s birth, and as the Art Institute, like many institutions, is engaged in ongoing research into ancient painting techniques.

This program is generously sponsored by the Boshell Family Foundation.

About the speakers

Hilary Baker He is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Binghamton University (SUNY). She earned her bachelor’s degree at Bryn Mawr College and her master’s and doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Baker’s work in ancient colors was initially inspired by her work in a Roman imperial dye shop from the excavations at Sant’Omobono in Rome. She is currently writing a book on the economics of the Roman dye industry entitled, Color trade. In her research and teaching, Dr. Becker combines her interests in materials and networks of exchange and interaction to explore themes that reveal the inner workings of both artistic forms and life experiences in the ancient Mediterranean world.

Catherine A. Raff Elizabeth McIlveen is Associate Curator of Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Since joining the department in 2011, Catherine has played an important role in a number of major projects, including the comprehensive reinstallation of the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman and Byzantine Art (2012), as well as galleries and installations including Portrait of Antinous in two parts (2016) and Collection of stories (2019). She edited and co-authored it Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (2017), the most comprehensive publication to date in the field of the Art Institute’s holdings in ancient Mediterranean art. Her recent projects have explored themes such as Etruscan architectural sculpture and Byzantine textiles, and she is currently working on plans to completely reinstall the Roman gallery. Rafe holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan. Before joining the Art Institute, she held fellowships from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Fulbright Foundation.

Since 2019, Giovanni Ferri He was a conservation scientist in the Department of Conservation and Science. He holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Ferrara, Italy, and a Master’s degree in Fresco Conservation from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, UK. His research interests include the development and application of investigative techniques for color analysis. In 2007, he developed an imaging technique called visible luminescence imaging, through which the presence of Egyptian blue, a blue pigment commonly used in ancient times, can be mapped even when it is invisible to the naked eye. This has led to interesting discoveries about the use of color in antiquity and beyond, including how blue was used in skin tones in mummy portraits at the Art Institute.

Please note that this is an in-person event held at the museum.

In accordance with state and city of Chicago guidelines, museum visitors are no longer required to wear masks or provide proof of vaccination. Anyone who wishes to continue wearing a mask is welcome to do so. Learn more about our visitation policies and what to expect.

If you have any questions about programming, please contact

Closed captions will be available for this program. For questions regarding disability accommodations, please email

This lecture is generously sponsored by the Boshell Family Foundation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: