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The Rayet head

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek


The Rayet head has traces of colour on both face and hair. Along the rim of both eyes and above the left eye as well as on the lips scattered traces of red is found. Also, on and between the locks of hair red colour can be seen with the naked eye. Microscopic remains of grains of a bright green colour are found along the hairline above the right eye, on the right iris and in the right ear. Black is found on both the right and left iris.

Non-invasive XRF-analysis on several parts of the hair shows a considerable amount of iron (Fe) and a small content of led (Pb). The latter is probably inherent in the marble or due to pollution. The minute green grains are too small to identify by means of XRF-analysis. The black colour remains unidentified.

Description of object

The head is frontal on a thick, muscular neck, where it has been broken from a kouros statue. The face is oval, the eyes almond-shaped under finely arched brows. The eyes are wide open and have a fine incision suggesting the tear duct. The lips are full and the chin strong. The hair, with its sharp border, looks like a close-fitting cap. It is cut short and radiates in starfish fashion from a whirl at the top of the head in sickle-shaped, layered locks. It ends in an arch on the neck and frames the forehead and the oval face.

The head is in a relatively good condition. However, the nose is broken off, and minor damage to the surface of ears, hair and face is observed. A cast was made of the original and the marble surface appears to have been deeply cleaned. Visible traces of red colour in the hair, eyes and mouth.

Choice of methods

Visual examination

  • Macroscopic
  • Microscopic in situ

Technical imaging

  • UV
  • VIL
  • Raking light


  • XRF

Marble identification method

  • Isotopic analysis

Visual examination

Red colour is evenly distributed on and between the locks of hair. On the face distinct traces of red is found on both eye rims, on the right iris, above the left eye and right ear. Also scattered particles of red are found on the lips and on the left cheek.

Microscopic remains of grains of a bright green colour are found along the hairline above the right eye, on the right iris and in the right ear.

On both iris minute amounts of what appears to be a black pigment is observed.

Traces of a presumably modern blue colour is located on the two locks of hair behind the left ear, on the left side of the neck and beneath the left ear. Also, on the right ear modern blue is found.

Technical imaging

UV-FL: Iris becomes clearer but fluorescent phenomena are not observed.

VIL: Luminescent phenomena indicating Egyptian blue are not observed.

Other types of investigation

XRF (X-ray fluorescence) Measuring point 01: Red on lock of hair [90º] has a small content of led (Pb) and strontium (Sr). A relatively large amount of iron (Fe) was also found. Measuring point 02: Red on lock of hair [180º] shows a considerable amount of iron (Fe) and strontium (Sr). Measuring point 03: The minute amounts of green grains in the right ear gave no result. Measuring point 04: Red on lock of hair [270º] has a high content of iron (Fe).


M.L. Sargent & R. H. Therkildsen (2010), The Technical Investigation of Sculptural Polychromy at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek 2009-2010 – An Outline, in J.S. Østergaard (ed.), 2010, Tracking Colour. The polychromy of Greek and Roman sculpture in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Preliminary Report 2. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 11-26.

F. Johansen (1994), Greece in the Archaic Period. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, cat. no. 18.

F. Poulsen (1951), Catalogue of Ancient Sculpture. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 29, cat. no. 11.

  • IN 418
  • Head
  • 530-520 B.C.E.
  • Archaic
  • Parian Lychnites
  • Purchased in Paris 5. april 1879 for Carl Jacobsen.
  • H. 31 cm. W. 19 cm. D. 24.5 cm.

Selected photos

  • In418_t_0
  • In418_t_180
  • In418_t_270
  • In418_uv_t_0
  • In418_d_270_hair
  • In418_d_0_lefteye
  • In418_d_0_righteye
  • In418_mi_0_c7_26x
  • In418_mi_270_e7_26x