Roman Art—The Republic summary



Roman Art—The Republic summary


The following texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.



The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.



Roman Art—The Republic summary


I.  Roman Art—The Republic (509-27BCE)                                                  Western Civilization

  1. 211 BCE. A turning point for the history of art
  2. In the words of historian, Livy, “the craze for works of Greek art began
  3. Influences of Greek and Etruscan mix into a distinctly Roman style


  1. Temple of “Fortuna Virilis (Temple of Fortunus),

 Rome, late 2nd century or early 1st century BCE.


    1. Temple Roman god of harbors
    2. Tufa, travertine, overlaid with stucco
    3. High podium accessible from front,

 Ionic columns engaged on cella’s sides


  1. Temple of “the Sibyl”, or of “Vesta,”

 Tivoli, early 1st century BCE.


a.    Greek round or tholos temple type; Corinthian columns

       with frieze of garlands held up by heads of oxen

b.   High podium, narrow stairway leading to cella; un-Greek

                        c.    Concrete-recipe limemortar, volcanic sand, water and small stones


  1. Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, Palestrina, late 2nd century BCE.


    1. Republican taste for colossal Hellenistic designs
    2. Concrete barrel vaults
    3. Man-made design symbolic of Roman power and dominion



  1. Surviving sculptural portraits of prominent figures of the Roman Republic
  2. Veristic—super-realistic portraits
  3. Ancestral images kept in their homes



  1. Head of a Roman Patrician, from Otricoli,

75-50 BCE.  Marble, approx. 14” high.


        a.    Blunt record of the sitter’s features

        b.    Personality—serious, experienced determined,

               virtues admired during the Republic


  1. Roman Patrician with Busts of his Ancestors,

Marble, lifesize.


    1. Father and Grandfather


  1. Portrait of a Roman general,

from the Sanctuary of Hercules, Tivoli, c. 75-50 BCE.

Marble, approx. 6’2” high.


       a.     Romans believed head alone sufficient to constitute a portrait

       b.    Commonly placed on bodies they could not possibly belong


Pompeii and the Cities of Vesuvius_________________________________________________________


  1. Aerial view of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius in the background
    1. Historian, Pliny the Elder, wrote Natural History in 37 books, observed the eruption



  1. Forum, Pompeii, 2nd Century B.C.E. and later.

(aerial view)


                      a.     Forum-center of civic life

                      b.    Temple of Jupiter (Capitolium)-converted into triple shrine

 of  Jupiter, Juno and Minerva

        c.     Basilica-housed the law court of Pompeii

               and used for other official purposes


  1. Amphitheater, Pompeii c. 80 B.C.E.

      (aerial view)


    1. Amphitheater literally means double-theater
    2. Supported by artificial mountain of concrete barrel vaults   



  1. Atrium of the House of the Vettii,Pompeii,

 rebuilt CE. 62-69.


    1. Atrium-large central reception area
    2. Basic model, similar plan of Etruscan house




  1. Custom painted frescoes in nearly every room
  2. Just another craze for things Greek



  1. First Style wall painting in the fauces

of the Samnite House, Herculaneum,

 late 2nd Cent. B.C.E.


    1. Masonry Style-imitate with stucco relief

appearance costly marble panels



  1. Dionysiac mystery freeze, 2nd Style wall paintings

 in Room 5 of the Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii,

60-50 B.C E., Frieze approx. 5’4’’ high.


       a.    Illusion of three-dimensional world

       b.   Rites of the Greek god Dionysos

  1. Detail:  Villa of  Mysteries
    1. Female mortals all interact with mythological figures


  1. Gardenscape, 2nd Style wall painting from the Villa of Livia,

Primaporta, c. 30-20 BCE. Approx. 6’7” high.


    1. Atmospheric perspective—depth indicated increasingly

 blurred appearance of objects in the distance


  1. Architectural View, wall painting

 from a villa at Boscoreale,

 near Naples, 1st century B.C.E.


  1. Theatrical design
  2. Intuitive perspective—artist creates

       general impression of real space


  1. Cityscape, detail of a 2nd Style wall painting

 from a bedroom in the House of Publius,

 late 1st century C.E.


  1. Diagonal lines that eye interprets as parallel lines

 receding into the distance;

 not yet a true linear perspective



  1. Detail of a Third Style wall painting

 in the house of M. Lucretius Fronto,

 Pompeii.  Mid-1st century CE.


  1. Solid planar surfaces adorned with decorative details

And “framed” paintings


  1. Fourth Style wall paintings in the Ixion room

 of the house of Vettii, Pompeii, c. C.E. 70.


    1. Combination of all styles
    2. Crowded, confused compositions,

Sometimes garish combinations of colors


  1. Portrait of a husband and wife, wall painting

 from House VII,2,6, Pompeii, c. CE. 70-79


    1. Roman marriage portrait
    2. Man holds a scroll and woman a stylus

 and a wax writing tablet


  1. Heracleitus, The Unswept Floor,

 mosaic variant of a 2nd century B.C.E.

painting by Sosos of Pergamon, 2nd century C.E.


    1. Tesserae-pebbles, shaped hard stone,

 marble, or manufactured color glass

II.  Roman Art—The Early Empire_______________Western Civilization


  1. Drew inspiration from Etruscan and Greek art as well as Republican traditions
  2. Developed art of portraiture, official images and private individuals
  3. Recorded contemporary historical events on commemorative arches, columns and mausoleums
  4. Contributed to Roman political propaganda


Augustus and Julio-Claudians (27 B.C.E.-C.E. 68)_______________________________________________


  1. Portrait of Augustus as General from Primaporta,

 copy of a bronze original of c. 20 B.C.E.

Marble, 6’8” high

    1. Present populace with image of a god-like leader
    2. Produced in great numbers,

 inspired by art of Classical Greece

                c.     Imperial portraiture for political propaganda


  1. Close-up of Augustus’s cuirass (torso armor)
    1. Reference to current events,

 return of captured Roman standards

 by the Parthians is depicted

    1. Cupid serves as a reminder of Augustus’s

divine lineage


  1. Portrait bust of Livia, from Faiyum,

 Egypt, early 1st century CE.

 Marble, approx. 13 ½” high.

  1. Wife of Augustus
  2. Strong features and serene  expression
  3. Promoter of  social legislation aimed at

increasing the Roman birth rate


  1. Ara Pacis, Augustae, Rome, 13-9 B.C.E.  Marble, approx. 34’5”.
    1. Altar of Augustan Peace
    2. Commemorate triumphal return,

end of civil war, establishment of

Roman rule in Spain and France

    1. Decoration is union of portraiture and allegory

religion and politics and the private and the public

    1. Reconstructed during Fascist era in Italy,

connection with 2,000 anniversary of Augustus’s birth

when Mussolini seeking to build modern Roman Empire

with himself at the head


  1. Telus”, relief panel from the east façade

 of the Ara Pacis  Marble 5’3”high.

    1. Allegorical representation of the peace and prosperity

Augustus presumably brought to empire




  1. Procession of the Imperial family,

detail of the south frieze of the Ara Pacis,

marble, approx. 5’ 3” high

  1. Senators and imperial family members
  2. Actual individuals with artist’s attempt at spatial depth


  1. Model of the Forum of Augustus, Rome,

      dedicated in 2 BCE.

              a.    Augustus found Rome “a city of brick and transformed it into marble”




  1. Pont-du-gard, Nimes, c. 16 BCE.

a.Roman engineering, an aqueduct

b.    100 gallons of water a day for every person in Nimes




8.   Close-up Aqueduct

    1. Three arcades (walls with series of regularly spaced

 arched openings)


9.   Maison Carree, Nimes, c. C.E. 1-10.

a.    Or  Square House

b.    Appealed to American president and

amateur architect Thomas Jefferson


The Flavians (C.E. 69-96)________________________________________________________


10. Aerial View, Colosseum, Rome c. CE. 70-80.

a.     Flavians erected to bolster popularity in Rome

    1. Enormous entertainment center
    2. Name “Colosseum”, derived from Colossus, bigger than life

statue of Nero that had been left standing next to it


11. Exterior View, Colosseum

a.     Curving outer wall, three levels of arcade,

Engaged columns, each level different architectural order


12. Interior, corridors, barrel vaults

a.     barrel vaulted corridors provide access to

 ascending tiers of seats


13. Interior, floor of arena

a.     Floor laid over a foundation of service rooms

 and tunnels provided backstage area for athletes,

 performers, animals, and equipment


14.  Portrait of Vespasian, from Ostia,

 c. CE. 69-79.  Marble approx. 16” high.

 a.    Colosseum’s patron

 b.    Revived veristic tradition of the Roman Republic



15.  Portrait bust of a Flavian woman,

       c.  C.E. 90, marble, approx. 2’ 1” high

            a.     Flavian portraits of all ages preserved,

b.     Idealized portrait



16.   Middle aged Flavian woman, marble

             a.     Revival of verist style popular in the Republican period



18.  Arch of Titus, Rome, after C.E. 81

                a.     Vespian’s older son Titus died, brother Domitian

        succeeded him and erected an arch in Titus’s honor

b.     Triumphal arch, one passageway only



19.  Spoils of Jeruselum, relief inside passageway,

Arch of Titus

 a.     Relief panel, Triumphal parade of Titus

                 b.     Roman soldiers carrying the spoils from

         the Temple in Jerusalum



20.  Triumph of Titus, Relief from Arch of Titus,

 marble, approx. 7’10”

a.      Titus in his triumphal chariot

b.      Allegorical figures transform relief into

         a general celebration of imperial values




Preparation to design a Roman City—Linear perspective


Materials needed:  Pencil, eraser and 12” ruler



III.  Roman Art-The High Empire and the Late Empire_____________Western Civilization



Trajan ( C.E. 98- 117)_______________________________________________________________________

     a.Empire reached its greatest extent

     b.Constructed largest and most elaborate of Imperial Forums


  1. Column of Trajan, 125’ high

and remains of  the Basilica Ulpia

 in the Forum of Trajan,

Architect--Apollodorus of Damascus


   a.    Commemorate victory over the Dacians

   b.    Monument to Trajan and his tomb

   c.    Continuous spiral narrative frieze, 625’ long


  1. Close-up of Trajan’s column
    1. Square base served as Trajan’s mausoleum
    2. Story told in over 150 episodes, with 2500 figures


  1. Detail of the shaft of Trajan’s column.
    1. Originally enhanced with paint
    2. Focus of attention always on emperor
    3. Only ¼ frieze devoted to battle scenes



Hadrian (C.E. 117-138)_____________________________________________________________

           a.   Trajan’s chosen successor and fellow Spaniard

b.   Connoisseur and lover of all arts, as well as author and architect



  1. Portrait Bust of Hadrian as General

from Tel Shalem, c. C.E. 130-138.

Bronze, 35” high

    a.    Always depicted as mature adult, wore a beard

    b.    Inspired by Classical Greek statuary


  1. Pantheon, Exterior View, Rome, C.E. 118-125,

 concrete, Temple of all the Gods

    1. Revolutionary design, concrete’s full potential


  1. Pantheon, interior and longitudinal

and lateral sections of the floor plan

    1. Design based on intersection of two circles
    2. Space imagined as orb of the earth and dome as vault of the heavens




  1. Pantheon, interior view
    1. Niches—7 rectangular alternating with semicircular,

Originally held statues of gods

    1. Coffers—sunken panels in circle patterns in dome’s ceiling
    2. Oculas—29’ wide central opening in dome



  1. Canopus, Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, c. 135 CE.
    1. Architectural complex of many buildings, lakes, gardens

 spread over half square mile

    1. Colonnade with alternating semicircular and straight entablatures
    2. Canopus—city on the Nile near Alexandria



  1. Battle of Centaurs and Wild Beasts, Floor mosaic from Hadrian,s Villa,

Tivoli.  C. 118-28, 23”  x36”

    1. Fight between centaurs and wild animals
    2. Variety of poses with shading and foreshortening


  1. Hadrian’s Wall,

seen near Housesteads, England.

2nd century C.E.

     a.     Stone barrier with forts for protection

             b.    Coast to coast, narrow (80-mile-wide) part of Britain

             c.    15 feet high, symbolic as well as physical boundary

                      between Roman territory and the barbarian Picts and Scots to North


The Antoinines (138-192)____________________________________________________________________

    1. Hadrian adopted 51 year-old Antonius Pius as son and required

    that Antonius adopt Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus;

    assuring peaceful succession for next generation


  1. Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius,

C.E. 175, Bronze, Approx. 11’ 6” high,

Campidoglio, Rome.

  1. Commonly used for imperial portraits

b.    Express majesty and authority of the Roman emperor

c.     Super human grandeur, larger than steed, no armor or weapon

d.    Thought to portray Constantine, inspires Renaissance sculptors




  1. Portrait of Marcus Aurelius
    1. New portrayal of Roman emperor
    2. Weary, saddened, even worried
    3. First time strain of constant warfare and

    burden of ruling a worldwide empire



Roman Art--The Late Empire___________________________________________________

           a.    Two centuries after establishment of Pax Romana; erosion of Roman power evident

           b.    Pivotal era in world history

           c.    Pagan ancient world gradually transformed into Christian Middle Ages


The Severans (C.E. 193-235)___________________________________________________________________



  1. Painted portrait of Septimus Severus and his family,

 from Egypt, c. 200 CE.  Tempera on wood,

 approx. 14” diameter.

a.    Only painted likeness of any Roman Emperor

b.    Erasure of face of Emperor’s younger son, Greta

c.    Son, Caracalla, ruthless character

d.    Ordered death of his wife and arranged murder of his father-in-law


  1. Portrait of Caracalla, c. 211-217 CE.Marble approx. 14” high.                                              



  1. Baths of Caracalla, Rome,

C.E. 212-216, brick-faced concrete,

140’ high

a.    Severans, active builders in Rome

b.    Bathing and recreational complex,

Erected with imperial funds to win favor of public



The Soldier Empires (C.E. 235-284)_____________________________________________________________

a.    Unstable times

b.    No emperor had luxury of initiating ambitious architectural projects



  1. Heroic Portrait of Trebonianus Gallus from Rome,

C.E. 251-253, Bronze approx. 7’ 11” high 

     a.   Another short-lived emperor

     b.   Heroic nudity

     c.   Image of brute force suited to era of soldier emperors




  1. Temple of Venus at Baalbek,

 third century C.E.

    1. Decline of classical art also manifests itself in architecture
    2. “Baroque” fantasy, concave forms and niches in cella wall


Diocletian and the Tetrarchy (C.E. 284-306)____________________________________________________

a.    Attempt to restore order

b.    Diocletitian decided to share power with rivals,

       established tetrarchy (rule by four)



  1.  Portraits of the Four Tetrarchs,

 C.E. 305, Porphry, approx. 4’ 3” high.

            a.   Portrayal of four equal partners in power

                b.   Porphry—purple marble

                c.   Lost all individual identity



Constantine (C.E. 306-37)___________________________________________________________________

a.   CE. 312 defeated chief rival Maxentius, battle at Milvian Bridge

b    Edict of Milan, ended persecution of Christians


  1. Arch of Constantine,

 Rome, C.E. 312-315

   a.   Commemorate victory over Maxentius

  b.   Triple-arched, recycled sculpture



  1. Medallions and Frieze

from the Arch of Constantine

    1. Taken from a monument to Hadrian



  1. Portrait of Constantine,

from the Basilica Nova, Rome,

C.E. 315-330, Marble, approx. 8’ 6” high

           a.    Constantine was master use of portrait statues

    for political propaganda

           b.    Marble fragment of colossal 30-foot-tall enthroned statue


  1.  Basilica of Constantine,

 Basilica Nova (New Basilica)

    1. Constantine’s statue placed in apse, a permanent stand-in

when he was in the East

    1. Similar to large, unbroken, vaulted space found in baths


  1. Aula Palatina (Basilica), Trier.

Early 4th century CE. (exterior)

    1. Austere brick exterior
    2. Two rows of windows


  1. Aula Palatina,Trier, interior
    1. Semicircular apse with triumphal arch that divides interior space
    2. Design adopted by Christians for use in churches



Source :

Web site link:

Google key word : Roman Art—The Republic summary file type : doc

Author : not indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Roman Art—The Republic summary


If you want to quickly find the pages about a particular topic as Roman Art—The Republic summary use the following search engine:




Roman Art—The Republic summary


Please visit our home page Terms of service and privacy page




Roman Art—The Republic summary