Joachim Winckelmann, the founder of the fields of Art History and Archeology in the mid-18th century, invented the much-cited "Greek Ideal of Beauty."
"This idea of beauty," he wrote, "is like an essence extracted from matter by fire; it seeks to beget onto itself a creature formed after the likeness of the first rational being designed in the mind of the divinity." The ideal embodies perfection, he believed, something that no actual human was capable of fully achieving, though a small few came close. It was, in short, an ideal of beauty that was essentially exclusionary.
The ideal was also exclusively white. "As white is the color which reflects the greatest number of rays of light, and consequently is the most easily perceived, a beautiful body will, ac-cordingly be the more beautiful the whiter it is."
The statue pictured is the Apollo of Belvedere, which Winckelmann saw as the epitome of the Greek ideal. He discovered it while he was in charge of staturary at the Biblioteca in the Vatican.