A consistent line of thinking about matter, colour and form continued into the Middle Ages from the Classical period. Our present views on the Classical and medieval works of art are coloured by how they have been perceived throughout their timeline. Therefore, it is fruitful to discuss polychromy in a broader historical context. The idea for this special issue came about when researchers specializing in ancient and medieval polychromy met for the first time at the seminar Perceiving matter. Visual, material and sensual communication from Antiquity to the Middle Ages and Beyond, held at the Museum of Cultural History,5 April 2019 under the auspices of the Polychrome Art History Research Group. Marina Prusac Lindhagen initiated the seminar and invited Kaja Kollandsrud to co-organise the event. The seminar discussed the perception of matter and colour as it is expressed through the polychrome three-dimensional form in a wider historical and functional context. The topics covered included the relationship between matter, form and colour, the nature of the paints and gilding, the way they were applied, and how colour and gilding together with their surface texture contribute to model the three-dimensional form.
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