British painter Lawrence Alma Tadema (1836-1912) painted realistic scenes of the classical world for his fellow Victorians. He loved to paint images with big expanses of white marble.
This was a bit of a fantasy, because the Romans more often used cement and faux painted plaster, avoiding the cost and hassle of real marble as much as possible. But in Tadema’ vision, white marble was everywhere, and he was good at painting it.
What were some of his secrets to painting marble?
He often uses a red-brown iron oxide staining into the structure of the marble along the joins, and grey or black veining in both the surface and deep layers of some of the stones.
The veining works best if it's very subtle. It can be accomplished either with opaque mixtures or glazing, but ideally with a combination of both.
One secret of getting the marble to look translucent is to use lighting from above and slightly behind. This plays up the effect of subsurface scattering along the illuminated edge.
Remember that besides transmitted light, there’s a lot of light bouncing around from all directions, so save the dark accents only for deep hollows or pits in the stone.
See a lot more Tademas at ARC virtual museum.
GurneyJourney post on subsurface scattering.