Roman Art: Origins, History, Types, Characteristics
The culture of ancient Rome existed throughout the almost year history of the civilization .. Most early Roman painting styles show Etruscan influences, particularly in the practice of political painting. . although Latin literature preserves learned speculation on the nature of the divine and its relation to human affairs. Ancient Roman art is a very broad topic, spanning almost 1, years and three Rome (though it conquered Greece) adapted much of Greece's cultural and. The Roman Empire incorporated a host of were forms of Celtic culture - namely the Iron Age La.
Moreover, its folded roof reduced the total weight of the structure thus minimizing the horizontal force on the outer arches. Types and Characteristics Roman sculpture may be divided into four main categories: Like architecture, a good deal of Roman sculpture was created to serve a purpose: In its important works, at least, there was a constant expression of seriousness, with none of the Greek conceptualism or introspection.
The mood, pose and facial features of the Roman statue of an Emperor, for instance, was typically solemn and unsmiling. As Rome grew more confident from the reign of Augustus 31 BCE - 14 CEits leaders might appear in more magnanimous poses, but gravitas and an underlying sense of Roman greatness was never far from the surface.
Another important characteristic of Rome's plastic art was its realism. The highly detailed reliefs on Trajan's Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, for instance, are perfect illustrations of this focus on accurate representation, and have been important sources of information for scholars on many aspects of the Roman Legion, its equipment and battle tactics.
Nonetheless, as we have seen, Roman sculptors borrowed heavily from the sculpture of Ancient Greeceand - aside from the sheer numbers of portrait busts, and the quality of its historical reliefs - Roman sculpture was dominated by High Classical Greek sculpture as well as by Hellenistic Greek sculpture.
What's more, with the expansion of Rome's empire and the huge rise in demand for statuary, sculptors churned out endless copies of Greek statues. For the effect of Roman sculpture on later styles of plastic art, please see: Historical Reliefs Rome didn't invent relief sculpture - Stone Age man did.
Nor was there any particular genius in the skill of its carvers and stone masons: What Rome did was to inject the genre with a new set of aestheticsa new purpose: After all, if an event or campaign is "carved in stone", it must be true, right?
The Greeks adopted the more "cultured" approach of recording their history more obliquely, using scenes from mythology. The Romans were far more down to earth: It has a spiral frieze that winds 23 times around its shaft, commemorating the Dacian triumphs of Emperor Trajan CE.
Sculpted in the cool, balanced style of the 2nd century, its composition and extraordinarily meticulous detail makes it one of the finest reliefs in the history of sculpture. Marcus Aurelius' Column c. It includes the controversial "rain miracle", in which a colossal thunderstorm saves the Roman army from death at the hands of the barbarian Quadi tribes.
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The sculptural style of the column differs significantly from that of Trajan's Column, as it introduces the more expressive style of the 3rd century, seen also in the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus CE by the foot of the Capitoline Hill.
The heads of the Marcus Aurelius figures are larger than normal, to show off their facial expressions. A higher relief is used, permitting greater contrast between light and shadow.
Overall, much more dramatic - a style which clearly reflected the uncertain state of the Roman Empire. Other famous relief works of stone sculpture carved by Roman artists include: Portrait Busts and Statues These works of marble and occasionally bronze sculpture were another important Roman contribution to the art of Antiquity.
Effigies of Roman leaders had been displayed in public places for centuries, but with the onset of Empire in the late 1st-century BCE, marble portrait busts and statues of the Emperor - which were copied en masse and sent to all parts of the Roman world - served an important function in reminding people of Rome's reach. They also served an important unifying force. Roman administrators had them placed or erected in squares or public buildings throughout the empire, and affluent citizens bought them for their reception rooms and gardens to demonstrate loyalty.
The traditional head-and-shoulders bust was probably borrowed from Etruscan art, since Greek busts were usually made without shoulders. An important feature of a Roman temple was the statue of the deity to whom it was dedicated. Such statues were also erected in public parks and private gardens.
Small devotional statuettes of varying quality were also popular for personal and family shrines.
These smaller works, when commissioned for the wealthier upper classes, might involve ivory carving and chyselephantine works, wood-carvingand terracotta sculpturesometimes glazed for colour. As Rome turned from cremation to burial at the end of the 1st century CE, stone coffins, known as sarcophagi, were much in demand: All were carved and usually decorated with sculpture - in this case reliefs. The most expensive sarcophagi were carved from marble, though other stone was also used, as was wood and even lead.
In addition to a range of different depictions of the deceased - such as Etruscan-style full-length sculptural portraits of the person reclining on a sofa - popular motifs used by sculptors included episodes from Roman or Greek mythology, as well as genre and hunting scenes, and garlands of fruit and leaves.
Towards the end of the Roman Empire, sarcophagi became an important medium for Christian-Roman Art onwards.
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Copies of Ancient Greek Sculpture Although the wholesale replication of Greek statues indicated a hesitancy and lack of creativity on the part of Roman artists, the history of art could not be more grateful to them, for their efforts. Indeed, it is fair to say that one of the greatest contributions of Rome to the history of art, lies in its replication of original Greek statues, 99 percent of which have disappeared.
Without Roman copies of the originals, Greek art would never have received the appreciation it deserves, and Renaissance art and thus Western Art in general might have taken a very different course. Painting The greatest innovation of Roman painters was the development of landscape paintinga genre in which the Greeks showed little interest.
Also noteworthy was their development of a very crude form of linear perspective. In their effort to satisfy the huge demand for paintings throughout the empire, from officials, senior army officers, householders and the general public, Roman artists produced panel paintings in encaustic and temperalarge and small-scale murals in frescoand mastered all the painting genresincluding their own brand of "triumphal" history painting.
Most surviving Roman paintings are from Pompeii and Herculanum, as the erruption of Vesuvius in 79 helped to preserve them. Most of them are decorative murals, featuring seascapes and landscapes, and were painted by skilled 'interior decorators' rather than virtuoso artists - a clue to the function of art in Roman society.
Panel Paintings In Rome, as in Greece, the highest form of painting was panel painting. Executed using the encaustic or tempera methods, panel paintings were mass-produced in their thousands for display in offices and public buildings throughout the empire.
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Unfortunately, almost all painted panels have been lost. The best surviving example from the art of Classical Antiquity is probably the "Severan Tondo" c.
Culture of ancient Rome
Triumphal Paintings Roman artists were also frequently commissioned to produce pictures highlighting military successes - a form known as Triumphal Painting. This type of history painting - usually executed as a mural painting in fresco - would depict the battle or campaign in meticulous detail, and might incorporate mixed-media adornments and map designs to inform and impress the public.
Since they were quick to produce, many of these triumphal works would have influenced the composition of historical reliefs like the Column of Marcus Aurelius. Murals Roman murals - executed either "al fresco" with paint being applied to wet plaster, or "al secco" using paint on dry walls - are usually classified into four periods, as set out by the German archaeologist August Mau following his excavations at Pompeii.
Useing vivid colours it simulates the appearance of marble. In time, the style developed to cover the entire wall, creating the impression that one was looking out of a room onto a real scene.The Art of Ancient Rome - Sculpture and Reliefs
The wall was divided into precise zones, using pictures of columns or foliage. Scenes painted in the zones were typically either exotic representations of real or imaginery animals, or merely monochromatic linear drawings. Depth returned to the mural but it was executed more decoratively, with greater use of ornamentation.
For example, the artist might paint several windows which, instead of looking out onto a landscape or cityscape, showed scenes from Greek myths or other fantasy scenes, including still lifes. Art Styles From the Roman Empire The Roman Empire incorporated a host of different nationalities, religious groups and associated styles of art. Chief among them, in addition to earlier Etruscan art of the Italian mainland, were forms of Celtic culture - namely the Iron Age La Tene style c.
Late Roman Art c. While wall painting, mosaic artand funerary sculpture thrived, life-size statues and panel painting dwindled. For the 1st century BC and 1st century AD, the largest body of evidence comes from the Campanian cities and suburban villas destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 for example, Pompeii and Herculaneum. In fact the first two styles in particular were taken from the Hellenistic world, as can be shown by comparing Campanian work with paintings from Hellenistic palaces and tombs.
Moreover, painting continued to develop in the Mediterranean world and in the provinces, where archaeology continues to increase our knowledge of later Roman painting. Paintings from the Roman catacombs Christian, Jewish and paganthe Constantinian ceiling paintings from Trierand the row of Christian praying figures orantes from the villa at Lullingstone, Kent in England demonstrate a tendency for figurative paintings to become more formal and anticipatory of Byzantine icons.
Mosaic Fragment with a Dionysiac Procession, mosaic: Many Roman mosaics are geometric in the manner of rugs and carpets, but a vast range of figurative subjects were produced, ranging from mythological and religious scenes to landscape and marine mosaics to scenes of gladiatorial combat and wild beast fights. Different styles and workshops and differences in repertoire are recognisable throughout the Empire.
In North Africa for example we find many realistic representations of the Roman arena, while in Greece and Britain such scenes are largely eschewed in favour of mythology. The early 4th century mosaic of the Great Hunt at Piazza Armerina in Sicily is a technically superb mosaic depicting violent conflict between beast and beast and man and man, while the contemporary and equally imposing mosaic at WoodchesterGloucestershire, England is far more vibrant in terms of design and in the imaginative stylisation of animals which circle peacefully around Orpheus but perhaps lacks the technical finesse of the Sicilian mosaic.
The so-called minor arts were of great importance in the highly acquisitive Roman society. The rich vied with each other in displays of gold jewellery and services of silver platewhich became ever more impressive in the late Roman period.
Engraved gems were acquired from the known world, including sapphires and emeralds from India, rock crystal from the Alps, and amber from the Baltic. Hard stones were carved as intaglios to serve as seals or as cameos.
Softer stones such as amber and fluorspar were fashioned into the form of small vessels. Belt with coins from Constas to Theodosius I, gold, enamel, sapphire, emerald, garnet, and glass, Roman Empire, c. Paul Getty Museum, object number