The Burden of Glory: The Art of the High & Late Roman Empire


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The Burden of Glory: The Art of the High & Late Roman Empire

  1. 1. The Burden Of GLORY The Art Of The High Roman Empire Introduction To Art History I Professor Will Adams
  2. 2. The Imperial Age  The Romans typically built aqueducts to serve any large city in their empire.  The city of Rome itself, being the largest city, had the largest concentration of aqueducts, with water being supplied by eleven aqueducts constructed over a period of 500 years. Pont-du-Gard, Nîmes, France; 19 BCE
  3. 3. The Imperial Age
  4. 4. The Imperial Age
  5. 5. The Imperial Age  There were approximately 300 miles of aqueducts, while only 29 of them were above ground.  The aqueduct provided about one hundred gallons of water a day for the inhabitants of Nîmes from a source some thirty miles away.
  6. 6. The Imperial Age
  7. 7. The Imperial Age Pont-du-Gard, Nîmes, France; 19 BCE
  8. 8. The Imperial Age  This civic Roman temple was built by Agrippa, who died in 12 BCE.  It was then dedicated to his two sons, Caius and Lucius, heirs of Augustus who both died very young.  It shows the allegiance & loyalty of the Roman colony to the empire.  It stands on the short south side of the forum on a podium which is nearly 10 feet high.  It was built of local limestone, but without a doubt the architect and workmen came from Rome. Maison Carrée, Nîmes, France; c. 10 CE
  9. 9. The Imperial Age Maison Carrée, Nîmes, France; c. 10 CE
  10. 10. An empire emerges  After his father’s death, Vespasian’s son, Titus, assumes control of the Empire in 79 CE, the same year that Mt. Vesuvius erupts and buries the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.  Despite the disaster, Emperor Titus was known as “the light of the world” during his reign, in recognition of his administration and completion of his father’s Coliseum project.  Titus was mysteriously killed in 81 CE.
  11. 11. Pompeii & Herculaneum  Pompeii & neighboring Herculaneum were buried on August 24 & August 25, 79 CE by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.  Pompeii is the most important archaeological site for learning about life in a Roman city.
  12. 12. The City of Pompeii
  13. 13. The Imperial Age Roman Cities & Pompeii  The forum was an oasis in the heart of Pompeii - an open, airy plaza.  Throughout the rest of the city, every square foot of land was developed.  The forum was constructed at the southern end of the town, immediately after the Roman colony was founded in 80 BCE.
  14. 14. MISCONCEPTIONS  Some misconceptions about Pompeii are:  The victims were “buried alive;” they had no chance of escape.  The city was buried “as it was;” the victims were caught completely unaware.  Pompeii was never again explored since ancient times.
  15. 15. REALITIES  Some of the realities about Pompeii include:  The eruption did not occur without warning; there were many earthquakes in the week leading up to the eruption.  Many people did escape; some of those who did not may have been looters or were simply unwilling to leave.
  16. 16. THE PLASTER MOLDS  Despite these misconceptions, no other ancient site shows what an ancient city may have been like better than Pompeii.  The most striking example of this is the plaster molds from Pompeii.  In 1863, Giuseppe Fiorelli, an Italian archaeologist, invented the technique of the plaster molding.
  17. 17. THE PLASTER MOLDS  Pompeii was buried under roughly 70 feet of volcanic ash.  Fiorelli realized that, by pounding on the ground, he could identify areas which were hollow below.  The hollow areas were once filled with remains - pottery, bodies, or other items that had long since decomposed, leaving negatives.
  18. 18. THE PLASTER MOLDS  By pouring plaster into this hollow area, the plaster would dry and take the original shape of what once laid there.  Archaeologists could then dig around the plaster, and take out the positive model of what was once actually contained there.  The following are some examples:
  20. 20. The Imperial Age  Pompeii’s new citizens erected a large amphitheater.  It is the earliest such structure known and could seat some twenty thousand spectators.  The word amphitheater means “double theater”, and the Roman structures closely resemble two Greek theaters put together, although the Greeks never built amphitheaters. Aerial view of the amphitheater, 20 Pompeii, Italy, c. 80 BCE
  21. 21. The Imperial Age  Greek theaters were placed on natural hillsides, but supporting an amphitheater’s continuous elliptical cavea required building an artificial mountain, and only concrete, unknown to the Greeks, was capable of such a job.  Barrel vaults also form the tunnels leading to the stone seats of the arena.
  22. 22. The Imperial Age  Arena is Latin for “sand”, which soaked up the contestants’ blood.  Instead of the refined tragic performances that would have taken place in Classical Greek theaters, the amphitheaters were largely used to stage bloody gladiatorial combats.
  23. 23. The Imperial Age  This painting that is found on the wall of a Pompeian house depicts an incident that occurred in the amphitheater in 59 CE.  A brawl broke out between the Pompeiians and their neighbors, the Nucerians, during a contest between the two towns.  The fight left many wounded and led to a 10 year prohibition against such events. Brawl in the Pompeii Amphitheater Pompeii, Italy, c. 60-79 CE 23
  24. 24. The Imperial Age  The painting shows the cloth awning (velarium) that could be rolled down from the top of the cavea to shield spectators from either sun or rain.  It also has the distinctive external double staircases that enabled large numbers of people to enter and exit the cavea in an orderly fashion.
  25. 25. DAILY LIFE IN POMPEII  The remains of certain buildings give us a glimpse of what daily life was like for the people of Pompeii.  Among some of the buildings we have remains of are shops, baths, and homes.  Even graffiti on the walls still remains in certain areas of Pompeii.
  28. 28. THERMAE (BATH)
  29. 29. ROMAN HOUSES  Because of its inhabitants’ wealth, Pompeii also has some of the most magnificent houses in Rome’s history  Among the more famous homes are:  The Villa of the Mysteries  The House of the Faun  The House of the Vettii
  30. 30. ROMAN HOUSES 30
  31. 31. ROMAN HOUSES 31
  33. 33. HOUSE TERMS TO KNOW  Fauces: The narrow entryway from the street.  Atrium: The central public room of the house, just inside the entryway; it usually has an impluvium, or water basin at its center.  Cubiculum: The small, painted-but-windowless bedrooms & dressing rooms surrounding the atrium.  Tablinum: The homeowners’ office, study, or greeting area.  Peristyle: The open courtyard or garden surrounded by a colonnade at the back of the house.  Triclinium: The dining room, located off the peristyle.  Lararium: A shrine to the Roman household gods, usually located in the peristyle.
  34. 34. SOCIAL ASPECTS OF THE HOME  Like the Greeks, the Romans (and Italians) were big on social hierarchy.  The plans of most of the homes differ slightly in the layout, but inevitably are designed to enable the visitor to see into the home.  When the front door was open during the day, a passerby could see directly into the atrium, then the tablinum, which lead directly into the peristyle.  The more gardens and courtyards you had, the greater your wealth and status.
  35. 35. ROMAN HOUSES  One of the best preserved houses at Pompeii is the House of the Vettii, an old Pompeiian house remodeled and repainted after the earthquake of 62 CE.  This photograph was taken in the fauces.  It shows the impluvium in the center of the atrium, and in the background, the peristyle garden with its marble tables and mural paintings. Atrium of the House of the Vettii Pompeii, Italy, rebuilt 62-79 CE 35
  36. 36. ROMAN HOUSES  The house was owned by two brothers, Aulus Vettius Restitutus and Aulus Vettius Conviva, probably freedmen who had made their fortune as merchants.  Their wealth enabled them to purchase and furnish houses that would have been owned only by patricians.
  37. 37. ROMAN HOME DECORATION  These houses also contain a number of magnificently preserved decorative elements in the form of:  Frescoes: Wall paintings created by painting into wet plaster to create a bonded image & wall.  Mosaics: Images created from tiny, tiny pieces of glass or tile that are called tessurae.
  38. 38. The Imperial Age  The majority of homes in Pompeii were decorated with muralistic wall paintings.  Especially striking is how some of the figures interact across the corners of the room.  Nothing comparable to this existed in Hellenistic Greece.  Despite the presence of Dionysus, satyrs, and other figures from Greek mythology, this is a Roman design. Dionysiac Mystery Frieze Pompeii, Italy, c. 60-50 BCE
  43. 43. The Imperial Age      Portrait of a Husband & Wife; Pompeii,Italy; c. 70-79 CE Originally formed part of a Fourth Style wall of an exedra, recessed area on the opening of the atrium of a Pompeiian house. Standard attributes of Roman marriage portraits are displayed here with the man holding a scroll and the woman holding a stylus and a wax writing tablet. These portraits suggested high education even if it wasn’t true of the subjects. The heads are individualized to the subject’s features, not simply standard types. This is the equivalent of modern wedding photographs. 43
  44. 44. The Imperial Age  Roman painters’ interest in the likeness of individual people was matched by their concern for recording the appearance of everyday objects.  This still life demonstrates that Roman painters sought to create illusionistic effects while depicting small objects.  Here they used light and shade with attention to shadows and highlights. Still-Life with Peaches, Fresco, Herculaneum, Italy; AD 62-79
  45. 45. The Imperial Age  The illusion created here is the furthest advance by ancient painters in representational technique.  It appears that this artist understood that the look of things is a function of light. Also, the goal was to paint light as if it were a touchable object that reflects and absorbs it.  This marks the furthest advance by ancient painters in representational technique and wasn’t seen again until the Dutch still-lifes in the 1700’s CE.
  46. 46. The Imperial Age  When Vespasian’s older son, Titus, died only two years after becoming emperor, his younger brother Domitian, took over. Domitian made this arch in Titus’s honor on the Sacred Way leading into the Republican Forum Romanum.  This type of arch, the so-called triumphal arch, has a long history in Roman art and architecture, beginning in the second century B.C. and continuing even into the era of Christian Roman emperors. Arch of Titus, Rome, Italy; 81 CE
  47. 47. The Imperial Age  The Roman arches celebrated more than just military victories, as they often commemorated events such as building roads and bridges.  This arch commemorates Titus’ sack of Jerusalem around 70 CE.  This is the oldest arch of its kind.
  48. 48. The Imperial Age The Spoils of the Temple Relief depicts the triumphal parade down the Sacred Way after his return from the conquest of Judaea at the end of the Jewish Wars in 70 CE. This panel contains a depiction of the sacred seven-branched menorah, from the Temple of Jerusalem.
  49. 49. The Imperial Age The Triumph of Titus Relief depicts the actual triumphal procession with the togaclad Titus in the chariot, but with the addition of allegorical figures (the winged Victory riding in the chariot with Titus who places a wreath on his head, the goddess Roma leading the horses). Because the reliefs were deeply carved, some of the forward heads have broken off.
  50. 50. The Imperial Age
  51. 51. The High Imperial Age
  52. 52. The High Imperial Age  Hadrian was a connoisseur and lover of all the arts, as well as an author and architect.  There are more existing portraits of Hadrian than of any other emperor, except Augustus.  Though he ruled Rome for more than 20 years, he is depicted in portraits as a mature adult who never ages. Portrait Bust of Hadrian as General, Tel Shalem, Israel; c. 130-138 CE
  53. 53. The High Imperial Age    Marble Bust of Hadrian Wearing Military Dress Tivoli, Italy; c. 117 - 118 CE Hadrian’s portraits more closely resemble Greek portraits of Pericles than those of any Roman emperor before him, undoubtedly his likenesses were inspired by Classical Greek statuary. Hadrian wore a beard, a habit that, in its Roman context, must be viewed as a Greek affectation (an appearance or manner assumed or put on as a show or pretense, often to impress others). Beards then became the norm for all subsequent Roman emperors for more than a century and a half.
  54. 54. The High Imperial Age  With the new Emperor Hadrian in power, work on a new temple dedicated to all the gods began.  This temple became known as the Pantheon.  Excluding the use of an eight Corinthian column facade, the temple’s design was completely revolutionary for its time. Pantheon Rome, Italy; 125-128 CE
  55. 55. The High Imperial Age
  56. 56. The High Imperial Age
  57. 57. The High Imperial Age
  58. 58. The High Imperial Age  The dome of the Pantheon steadily decreases in thickness from the drum to the apex, and is constructed from pumice & Roman concrete.  In the very middle there is an opening called an oculus that acts as a skylight.  The oculus is the only source of natural lighting for the building’s interior.
  59. 59. The High Imperial Age  The oculus measures 30 feet in diameter.  This is the oldest domed building in the world that still has its original roof.  From this indoor photo of the Pantheon you can see the carved panels as well as the intense light that the oculus provides for the room.  These decorative panels are called coffers, and serve two purposes.
  60. 60. The High Imperial Age Originally, the interior’s niches and altars contained images of the Roman gods and goddesses. However, when the Pantheon was consecrated as a Catholic church in 609 CE, they were replaced by images of saints and those buried within the structure.
  61. 61. The High Imperial Age
  62. 62. The High Imperial Age  During Hadrian’s reign, he ordered construction of a monumental stone wall to keep the ‘barbaric’ Scots and Picts from invading from the North.  This 74-mile stretch across Northern England is known as Hadrian’s Wall.  It was 8-10 feet wide and 20 feet tall, with a tower located at every mile mark.  It was built in only about 8 years, from 122 – 130 CE!
  63. 63. The High Imperial Age
  64. 64. The High Imperial Age
  65. 65. Acta Est Fabula