Why Is Marble Used for Sculpture?

Why Is Marble Used for Sculpture?

Why Is Marble Used for Sculpture?

Marble sculpture is the art of creating three-dimensional sculpture forms from marble. The sculpture is considered among the oldest of the arts. It is said that even before painting cave walls, early humans fashioned shapes from stone. 

From these beginnings, artefacts have developed to their current complexity. Marble is a metamorphic rock derived from limestone. Marble is composed mostly of calcite (a crystalline form of calcium carbonate). The source of the parent limestone is the seabed. 

This is a deposition of calcium carbonate in the form of microscopic animal skeletons or similar materials. Marble is formed when the limestone is transformed by heat and pressure after other materials have overlain it.

Marble is probably the most popular material used in sculpture. Marble's translucency and durability have made it the medium of choice for all the greatest sculptors, including Greek artists like Phidias, Myron, Polykleitos, and Praxiteles and their successors Donatello, Michelangelo, Bernini, Canova, and Rodin. 

In addition, marble has been used for relief sculptures and friezes. Since the invention of metal tools during the Bronze Age, marble stone has been highly prized by sculptors and architects alike to create marble sculpture art. 

During the Renaissance, Michelangelo (1475-1564) described marble sculpture as the slow release of a form as it emerged out of the block. He claimed that his role as an artist was to liberate the human form trapped inside the block by gradually chipping away at the rough stone surface. 

Famous examples of marble sculpture include masterpieces like the Parthenon Reliefs (446-430 BCE), The Apollo Belvedere (330 BCE), Venus de Milo (100 BCE) Trajan's Column reliefs (113 CE), David by Michelangelo (1501-4).

Sculptors like marble. It is relatively soft and easy to work when first quarried and then becomes extremely hard and dense with age. 

Marble is also available in a variety of shades and patterns. White marbles are especially prized for fine art marble sculpture because of their relative isotropy and homogeneity and resistance to shattering. 

Marble can also be highly polished, making it ideal for decorative marble sculpture artwork. Compared to the next best alternative stone being limestone, marble possesses a much finer grain. This makes it much easier for the sculptor to render minute detail. Marble is also more weather resistant.

The Most Famous Marble Statues In The World

Marble sculpting refers to the art of creating three-dimensional marble. 

This type of art is among the oldest form in the world, and it is thought to have been used long before even the painting or the cave walls by humans.

From these prehistoric developments, it has evolved to form a complexity of the art. Marble itself is a metamorphic rock derived from limestone composed mainly of calcite, a form of crystallized calcium carbonate. 

The origin of the parent limestone is in the sea, specifically in the seabed, which is formed through the deposition of calcium carbonate through the microscopic animal's skeleton or other similar materials.

They are formed due to limestone being transformed by pressure and heat after other materials overlay them. 

Some of the finest marbles used for sculpture do not have stains, or they could be having traces of stains. However, natural stains can be incorporated into the work of art itself.

Parthenon Marbles


These types of marbles are also known as Elgin marbles. They are also referred to as the classical sculpture of Greek artwork created under the supervision of the famous sculptor known as Phidias and his assistants.

Initially, these marbles were part of the temple of the Parthenon and other buildings of the Acropolis of Athens.

In the early 19th century, the Earl of Elgin took some of the sculptures of the Parthenon and others from Erechtheum and Propylaea and was transported by sea to the UK. 

Elgin claimed that he had an official decree from the government of the Ottoman Empire, who at the time was ruling the whole of Greece. However, no records to date have been found showing such a degree from the Ottoman Empire.

About half of all the marbles not removed by Elgin are found in the Acropolis museum. After Greece gained independence from the Ottomans in 1832, it began to restore and retrieve all the loot monuments. 

However, by the 1980s, Greece was still urging the British to return the pieces of art stolen in the early 19th century. By 2014 UNESCO became a mediator between the United Kingdom and Greece to resolve the disagreement, but it was unsuccessful.

In 2018 the leader of the labour party of Britain agreed to return all the marbles to Greece if he will be elected as the Prime minister.

Aphrodite Of Milos

The Aphrodite of Milos refers to an ancient Greek statue among the most famous artworks of ancient Greece. The sculpture was made around 130-100 BC, and it is assumed to have been done by Alexandros of Antioch, although some think it was made by the sculptor Praxiteles.

The statue represents the Greek goddess of beauty and love known as Aphrodite, while others believe that it depicts the Greek god of the sea, the Amphitrite, venerated on Milos. 

This piece of art measures about 6 feet and 8 inches tall, and part of the arm and the original plinth are missing. Presently, the sculpture is displayed in Paris at the largest art museum globally, the Louvre.

David By Michelangelo

The statue of David was created during the renaissance period between 1501 and 1504 by the famous Italian artist Michelangelo. 

It stands at 17 feet tall and is depicted as a nude male representing the biblical David, a favoured subject in the Florence art world. 

Since it represented a hero, the statue became a symbol of protection of civil liberties in the city-state of the Republic of Florence. 

The city of Florence was facing threats from all directions by other competitor states, particularly the Medici family's dominion. 

Therefore, the eyes of the sculpture of David were looking towards Rome, which symbolized a warning glare.

Laocoön And His Sons

The sculpture of Laocoön and his Sons is also known as the Laocoön Group and is among the most famous sculptures. 

It was excavated in 1506, and it has been displayed in public in the Vatican ever since. The statue Measure about 6 feet and 7 inches, and it depicts the Trojan priest Laocoon together with his sons Thymbraeus and Antiphantes. 

They appear to be attacked by serpents from the sea. The sculpture has been referred to as the prototype icon of human agony, which was different from the agony depicted in the Christian arts through the passion of Jesus and the martyrs. 

However, this suffering has no reward or redemptive power like the agony of Jesus. This iconic piece is thought to be among the best examples of baroque art in Hellenistic culture and probably in the whole of Greek culture. 

However, it is not evident if it was an original artwork or a copy of a previous sculpture, certainly in bronze. Currently, the sculpture is displayed in Museo Pio Clementino, which is among one the Vatican Museums.

Moses By Michelangelo

This iconic piece of Moses was created between 1512 and 1515 by the famous Italian artist Michelangelo Buonarroti. Pope Julius II commissioned the statue in 1505, and it depicts the figure of biblical Moses with horns in his head. 

Michelangelo had been commissioned to build the tomb for Julius II, who died in 1513. The sculpture was designed following the iconography convention, which was common in Christianity, basing it on the description in the book of Exodus chapter 34 in the vulgate or the Latin translation of the Bible used at the time.

Pietà By Michelangelo

Pietà or pity was a sculpture of the Renaissance period done by Michelangelo Buonarroti, and it is currently kept in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. 

The icon was commissioned by Jean de Bilheres, a French cardinal who is believed to have been a representative in Rome. It was made out of Carrara marble for the cardinal's monument during his funeral. Still, in the 18th century, it was relocated to its present location, and it is the only sculpture by Michelangelo to have been signed. 

The piece portrays Jesus lying on the lap of his mother (Mary) after the crucifixion. The sculpture is one of the most impressive artworks that balances the ideals of classical beauty and the Renaissance with naturalism.


The Discobolus is an Aziza Greek sculpture made at the beginning of the classical period, and it depicts a young youth of ancient Greece athlete throwing a discus, and it is thought to have been created around 462-450 BC. 

The original piece, which is thought to have been made of bronze, is lost, but it has numerous copies known through various roman copies in full-scale marble, which was cheaper than bronze.

What Tools Are Used By Sculptors?

As you would imagine, sculptors will choose particular tools depending on the specific tasks involved in each project and the required level of detail. 

Knowledge is always power, no matter what area we work in, and it is precisely for this reason that it is so important for an artist to be fully aware of all the different possibilities available to them to fulfil new objectives, set new goals for themselves and continue to achieve more and more professional results. 

We will now show you the essential tools for sculpting in stone.



Chisels are currently the most commonly used tool for carving stone. They have been used since prehistoric times, although they have improved significantly over time. Chisels are manual tools that chip away at stone to remove small pieces at a time so that the artist can produce the form that they want one bite at a time. 

Other supporting tools are used alongside the chisel, such as hammers or mallets, which we will discuss next. The chisel can be used for various tasks, and as such, there are carving chisels, lettering chisels and rounded chisels.

Chisels are made up of four parts: the head, the handle, the wedge and the cutting edge. The wide variety of models available can create confusion regarding which type to choose for each case. High-quality chisels have a long enough handle to allow you to hold it correctly in your hand, but not so long that it prevents you from moving freely, making it more difficult to handle.

Mallets And Hammers

As we mentioned previously, mallets and hammers are essential tools for working with stone, as they provide the necessary force to strike it with a strong impact. 

As many of you will already know, hammers are made of a metalhead and a handle for directing the impact (generally made of wood). Sculptors will have a good understanding of all the different hammers available to them:

  • Round hand hammers.
  • Hand bush hammers.
  • Lump hammers.
  • Splitting hammers.
  • Toothed stone axes.
  • Trimming hammers.
  • Carving picks or crandall hammers.

But we will, of course, always provide all the necessary information to those who are still unsure about all the available tools.

Pointed Chisels

You can use pointed chisels to work with stone much more precisely and thus achieve a better finish. Carbide pointed chisels, for example, provide maximum resistance during the carving process, a low level of deformation and increased durability. 

This helps to produce high-impact work but also with fine detail and/or a great finish. We have a variety of different pointed chisels at Rock & Tools so that you can always find the one that best suits the work you would like to carry out.

Diamond Cutting And Saw Blades

Diamond cutting and saw blades are specially designed for cutting various types of stone. 

They are specifically made using diamond particles, a well-known material for their durability and abrasive qualities. 

These properties allow them to cut very quickly and precisely. In addition, the edge of these blades may be segmented (for stone, brick or granite), continuous (for tile or marble) or turbo (for tile, marble or stone, among other materials).

Advantages and Disadvantages to Marble

As professionally trained stone maintenance technicians, Stone Restoration Works specializes in cleaning and restoring natural stone. One common stone type, often used as flooring and countertops, is a marble. This natural surface is a stunning addition to any home, but it is important to understand what maintenance is needed to preserve its charm.

Marble is a beautiful stone. Its unique way of being created is what makes it so beautiful. It's formed from either dolomite rock or limestone that is subjected to extreme heat and pressure. These conditions cause the rock to transform, creating the distinctive veining that makes marble.

If you are thinking of putting marble into your home, here are some advantages and disadvantages to this stone.



  • Because of the veining in the marble, marble flooring can show a design pattern that is elegant and can give your home a very appealing look.
  • Marble has an everlasting appeal. Marble does not go out of style. Wherever you decide to put it in your home, it will bring your home a good value for your house's resale.
  • Any granite cannot match the marble white colour.
  • Since marble is a widely available stone, it is less expensive than other natural stones.


  • If deciding on marble floors-only skilled technicians and labourers can install these floors because of the skill needed. This will add to the price for marble, but the marble will look exquisite with the professional installation.
  • Marble is known to be extremely heavy. Therefore, you need to make sure that wherever you are deciding to put the marble in your home, it is strong enough.
  • Marble is a calcareous stone and is susceptible to acid etching. It's generally soft, so it may be easily scratched.
  • All stone flooring needs a good amount of maintenance. It is the same with marble in the home. Marble maintenance, along with all stone maintenance, requires skilled professionals to do the cleaning process with the highest degree of efficiency.*
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