Alabaster

DEFINITION

A soft, pure white, translucent gypsum or calcium sulfate hydrate that can easily be cut or carved. (Alabaster referenced by ancient civilizations was a hard stone of onyx marble.) Because of its delicacy, objects made from Alabaster can only be kept indoors. The substance is found primarily in caves, and a major quarry for Alabaster is at Volterra, Italy near the marble quarries of Carrara. Many Florentine sculptors have used Alabaster, and carved Alabaster is one of the most traditional products exported from Italy. American sculptors using Alabaster include Jose de Creeft, Jacob Epstein, Chaim Gross, Allan Houser, Doug Hyde, Gaston Lachaise and Reuben Nakian. Sources: Greta Elena Couper, "An American Sculptor on the Grand Tour"; Ralph Mayer, "A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques"; AskART database.

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