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I can’t speak to the connection or theme of marble by the sea, though it might honestly be simply a case of “Ancient Greece = marble and the Mediterranean”. Obviously not all of classical antiquity was on the shores of the seas, but it is sort of a romantic notion, and as such I don’t think there’s really anything more to it than that.
What I can definitively say is that I have always absolutely *loved* his treatment of marble ever since I first encountered one of his works in one of my high school art history classes. The man had an exceptional ability to not only recognize, but also portray, the subsurface scattering of light, especially in marble. But it’s also apparent in some of his other depictions, particularly in some of his depictions of people, especially in warmer tones/light, and also in other things such as cloth. I have two separate libraries on my network for art stuff, with one being an art gallery of all manners of art, and another that is for reference images (and for use in texture maps, backgrounds, etc, for some of my 3D work), and these two libraries have virtually no overlap. Well, except for the fact that I have some of his work in my marble subfolder in my reference library. His depictions may not always be 100% accurate or perfect, but I just love the aesthetic he has achieved so much that I have some of his work in my references folder should the opportunity arise wherein I might be tempted to emulate it.