RRoman art - [Expect text here soon.]


In Roman mythology, the city was founded by two brothers, who had been raised by a wolf. Romulus and Remus.

Making generalizations about the visual culture of any group of people is a crude endeavor, especially with a culture as diverse as Rome's. With this thought in mind, know that this survey, as any must be, is tremendously limited in its breadth and depth.


Examples of Roman art:




Laocoön and his Sons, Roman copy of a Hellenistic original from c. 200 BCE, marble, height 1.84 m, Vatican. Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons are attacked at an altar by giant serpents. Pliny said it was the work of three sculptors from Rhodes, Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athenodoros. The date of the Laocoön is controversial, some scholars arguing for the late second century BCE, others for c. 50 BCE. See pain.




see thumbnail to rightRome, Bust of Sextus Pompeius, 30s BCE, bronze, height 39 cm, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.




see thumbnail to leftRome, Cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor, c. 40-30 BCE, Republican, Second Style, fresco; room: 8 feet 8 1/2 inches x 10 feet 11 1/2 inches x 19 feet 7 1/8 inches (265.4 x 334 x 583.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.





see thumbnail to rightRoman, Augustus of Primaporta, early 1st century CE after a bronze of the 1st century BCE, marble.




see thumbnail to leftRoman, Pont du Gard Aqueduct, near Nimes, France, c. 20-10 BCE. See aqueduct and arch.





see thumbnail to rightRome, Statue of the Emperor Octavian Augustus, first quarter of the 1st century CE, height 185 cm, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. The emperor is represented here as Jupiter, the supreme God of the Roman pantheon, and this statue is a typical example of Roman sculpture from the time of the Empire. The composition was adapted from the celebrated sculpture of Zeus by Phidias, which allowed the placing of the appropriate attributes in Augustus's hands: a Nike and a sceptre. The sculptor preserved the emperor's portrait features, but idealized them to create a formal cult statue.



see thumbnail to leftRoman, Asia Minor, Head of Caligula Worked for Insertion into Togatus Statue, about 40 CE, marble, 16 15/16 inches (43 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA. The Roman emperor Gaius, more commonly known by his nickname Caligula, ruled from A.D. 37 to 41 and was extremely unpopular. In fact, after he was murdered, almost all portraits of him were destroyed.





see thumbnail to rightRoman, Landscape, c. 40 CE, fresco "end of Third Style", scene: 66.2-66.6 x 52.3-52.8 cm, white border: 2-7 mm, red wall: 7.7-15.5 cm, George Ortiz collection. Allegedly from Stabiae. The Third Style is also called the "ornate" and the "ornamental" style of Roman fresco painting. See landscape and tratteggio.





see thumbnail to leftRoman, Rome, Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater), 70-82 CE. A vast ellipse in plan, length 620 feet x width 513 feet (188 x 156 m), with eighty external arcaded openings on each storey, those on the ground floor forming entrances from which the various tiers of seats were reached. see thumbnail to rightSee a cutaway view. The upper storey was added 222-224, around the top of which were sockets for 240 wooden masts which carried a massive canopy (velarium). The façade's entire height is 157 feet 6 inches (48.5 m). Each of the four storeys are pierced by arches, and have attached three-quarter columns and entablatures, Doric in the first story, Ionic in the second, Corinthian in the third, and above these are pilasters of Corinthian design, with small square window openings in alternate bays. The wooden floor of the arena is an oval 287 x 180 feet, surrounded by a wall 15 feet high, behind which were the podium, with the imperial throne, and seats for the pontifex maximus, vestal virgins, senators, praetors, and other officers of the state. Behind the podium rose the auditorium seats for some 50,000-75,000 spectators, with corridors and stairs beneath, while dens for wild beasts were under the lowest tier, on a level with the arena. The seats (now removed) were in four main horizontal divisions. The construction of this amphitheater is notable for its combination of materials, carefully chosen for the purposes to which they were applied. The design of this structure was made possibly because of the Romans' invention of concrete, used primarily for the foundations. Different types of concrete were utilized depending on their need to be especially solid, or to be reduced in weight. Travertine was used to face the exterior, for the piers and arcades, tufa infill between piers for the walls of the lower two levels, brick-faced concrete for the upper levels and for most of the vaults, limestone largely for floors, and marble for seats, columns, and ornament. Even in its current ruined state, the Colosseum recalls the gladiatorial contests, the naval displays, and the martyrdom of Christians which took place within its walls before it became a medieval fortress or was plundered to provide building materials for Renaissance palaces and churches. Another view of the Colosseum.



see thumbnail to leftJean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824-1904), Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down), 1872, oil on canvas, 39.5 x 58.625 inches, Phoenix Art Museum. Gérôme studied the architecture of the Colosseum, along with other historical evidence in producing this history painting. To the right of the imperial throne, the vestal virgins indicate their desire for the death of a defeated combatant. Light streaming between sections of canopy streaks across the floor and lower walls. Ridley Scott (American, contemporary) has said that this picture inspired his production of the movie Gladiator in 2000, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix.



see thumbnail to rightRoman, after the School of Polykleitos, Statue of the Lansdowne Herakles (Hercules), about 125 CE, marble, height 76 3/16 inches (193.5 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA.



Egyptian (Hawara, Roman period, Funerary Portrait of a Young Girl, second century CE), encaustic on wood, height 15 3/4 inches, Cleveland Museum of Art.




see thumbnail to leftRoman, Denarius, Septimius Severus (Emperor 193-211 CE), silver;
obverse: In the center is a bust in profile of Emperor Septimius Severus. He wears a laurel wreath. His hair is curly, his beard ending in pin-curls. The text: "SEVERVS . . . PIVSAVG" -- Severus Pius Augustus -- his name and the titles bestowed on him as emperor.
reverse: In the center is Roma, the goddess of the city of Rome. In her left arm, she holds a spear. A shield stands beside her, leaning against her seat. The text is probably: "NOB . . VRBIS" -- noblissimus urbis meaning noblest city. Michael Delahunt Collection.



see thumbnail to rightRome, Bust of Emperor Philip the Arab, c. mid-3rd century CE, marble, height 72.3 cm, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. See bust.




Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720-1778), The Colosseum, 1761, etching, from Le vedute di Roma, Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory U, Atlanta, GA.



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See articles on various media (such as architecture, bronze, ceramics, glass, and marble, mosaic, sculpture, and vessel), and form (such as sarcophagus). Also see Apollo, archaeology, colossus and colossal, Etruscan art, forum, Greek art, incrustation, mythology, Neoclassicism, Renaissance, Romanesque, Romanitas, UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, and Vandals.





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