Art History 1
Portrait of Vespasian,
Head of an old man
Portrait of Constantine, from the Basilica Nova, Rome, Italy.
Portrait of Caracalla
Portrait bust of Livia
Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius
Portrait of Augustus as general
Heroic portrait of Trebonianus Gallus
Aule Metele (Arringatore)
Portraits of the four tetrarchs, from Constantinople
Arch of Constantine (south side), Rome, Italy
Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace looking northeast), Rome, Italy.
Female personification (Tellus?), panel from the east facade of the Ara Pacis Augustae, Rome, Italy.
Aerial view of the Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater)
APOLLODORUS OF DAMASCUS, aerial view of the Markets of Trajan, Rome, Italy.
Interior of the Pantheon, Rome, Italy.
Still Life with Peaches, detail of wall painting Herculaneum, Italy
Portrait of a husband and wife, wall painting Pompeii, Italy
• Romulus founded Rome: 753 BCE
• Republican Period: 509-27 BCE
• Early Empire: 27 BC - 96 AD
• High Empire: 96 - 192 AD
• Late Empire: 192-337 AD
Roman Foundation Myths: Aeneas
• According to the Aeneid, the survivors from the fallen city of Troy banded together under Aeneas, underwent
a series of adventures around the Mediterranean Sea, including a stop at newly founded Carthage under the
rule of Queen Dido, and eventually reached the Italian coast.
• The Trojans fought with local tribes, won the right to stay and to assimilate with the local peoples.
• Aeneas was the son of the Goddess Venus
Therefore all Romans connected to Olympic Gods
Emphasizes connections with Carthaginians who fought bravely against the Romans in the Punic
Roman Foundation Myths: Romulus and Remus
• According to legend, Romulus and Remus were twin sons of Mars, the God of War.
• Jealous gods wanted to harm the boys-so to protect them, their mother Rhea sent them afloat in a basket
down the Tiber River.
• They were found by a female wolf and she fed them and took care of them.
• Eventually a shepherd adopted the boys and raised them.
• As the twins grew older, they decided they didn’t want to tend sheep, but wanted something greater and
they built a city along the banks Tiber River.
• However, both wanted to be king. Eventually they quarreled and in a fit of rage, Romulus killed Remus.
• The city was then named after its first king, Romulus.
The new city grew rapidly, swelled by landless refugees; as most of these were male and unmarried, Romulus
arranged the abduction of women from the neighboring Sabines.
• The ensuing war ended with the joining of Sabines and Romans as one Roman people.
• Emphasizes absorption of local tribes and cultures.
• In reality, Rome was built by the Latin people between 1000 BC and 500 BC along the Tiber River located
on the Italian peninsula in center of Mediterranean Sea.
• The site of Rome was chosen for its fertile soil and strategic location-the city was built on seven hills, making
it difficult to attack.
• Located on the Tiber River and the Mediterranean Sea meant that the people could easily conduct trade
throughout the region.
Two other groups also lived on the Italian peninsula, the Etruscans in the north and the Greeks in the South.
• Both the Greeks and the Etruscans have a strong influence on the development of Rome.
• (ex. culture, architecture, military, religion, etc.)
• All three groups competed for control of the region with the Romans the ultimate victors.
PATRONAGE and ARTISTIC LIFE in ancient Rome:
Roman government and wealthy people = major patrons of the arts
Spent lavishly on themselves and homes
• Dedicated to the general good of the arts
• Gave generously to public projects
• Huge workshops cranking out Greek-style works
• Romans built houses to impress and entertain
• Lavish interiors of homes (marble plumbing fixtures!)
• Interiors were grand domestic spaces that announced the importance of the owner
• Artists = low on social scale - treated poorly – many were slaves and never got credit for their work.
INNOVATIONS IN ROMAN ARCHITECTURE
• Romans were master builders
• Built great roads and massive aqueducts – efficient way to connect cities and make areas livable
• Temples = hymns to the gods, symbols of civic pride
• Arenas – awed spectators (size and engineering are awesome)
• Perfected the arch and used it a lot (not used much before)
• Used concrete in constructing huge buildings – but they thought it was ugly, so they covered concrete
structures in other materials (like marble) to make them more attractive
ROMAN TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENTS
• The Arch
• Barrel vaults
• Groin vaults
• The Dome: architecture of light and space
Roman Invention of Concrete
• Cheap and strong; can be molded to any form
• Placed in wooden frames, then dried
• Architecture of space rather than mass.
• Roman genius: many materials in the same building
• “All roads lead to Rome” is an apt description of Roman roads
• The network on this map show how the Roman army could go anywhere
• Later, it also indirectly contributed to the spread of Christianity throughout the empire
• The paving was basic to the rapids transport of troops
• Rome built on the arch, contributed by the Etruscans
• Weight is evenly distributed from the keystone to the sides
• It could provide so much strength that other structures could be built above it
• Barrel Vault (Tunnel); a series of connected arches
• needs buttressing dark and gloomy
• Groin Vault: barrel vaults intersect at right angles over a square area.
• Thrust is concentrated at four corners, eliminating walls, allows clerestory windows
• Third form of rooftop architecture in Rome
• Created by rotating a round arch through 180 degrees on its axis
• Must be buttressed from all sides
• The weight must be evenly distributed at all sides
• The dome included a circular skylight
Entrance to a home was an atrium, a large hall entered through a corridor from the street,
An open compluvium (skylight) which let in rainwater and sunlight
Rainwater was collected in a sunken basin in the floor (impluvium) and channeled off into a cistern
Public Architecture: The Forum
• A rectangular open space, usually with a temple at one end
• Bounded on three sides by colonnades (rows of columns)
• Fourth side by a basilica
• Best known: Forum Romanum and Forum Julium
Architectural and Engineering Professions
• Roman architecture and engineering were considered to be one discipline
• The most influential manuals were Vitruvius’s Ten Books on Architecture
• Function to the Roman architecture determined design
• Classic architecture emphasized size to accommodate 1 million people of Rome: the coliseum, the
amphitheaters, all designed for entertainment, whether gladiators, drama, or circuses
Roman Republic: Roots
• Etruscans ruled the Latins but were overthrown in 509 BC
• Gradually, monarchy gave way to government by the people (res publica)
• Predominately comprised the patricians (aristocrats) and the plebians (farmers, artisans, and other
• Slaves formed a third category as the empire expanded
• The rise of the republic was a slow process
The Roman Republic
Following the expulsion of the Etruscans, the Roman people create a republic from the Latin term res
publica or “public works”.
• In this system, Roman citizens were allowed to elect the leaders of their government.
• Only free-born males were considered citizens.
Structure of the Roman Republic
• Patricians through the Senate controlled the lawmaking process
• However, plebians filled the ranks of the Roman army and exercised veto power over the decisions of
• Eventually, through their leaders, the tribunes, acquired the right to hold executive office and lawmaking
Patricians and Plebeians
Two groups struggled for power in the new republic—the patricians and the plebeians.
• Patricians were the wealthy, land-owning class that held most power.
o Made up a very small portion of the population
• Plebeians were common farmers, artisans and merchants
- Most people fell into this class
• Roman government had three parts.
• The 2 consuls were like kings. One led the government, the other led the army.
o They could veto each other’s decisions.
• The second part of the government was the Senate.
o Senate members were elected by the people; however, most Senators were patricians.
o The Senate passed laws and also controlled the treasury (money).
o The Senate is the most powerful group in the government of the Roman Republic.
• Lastly, there were citizen assemblies.
o Any citizen could belong to an assembly and they elected tribunes and made laws that applied to
the common man.
• Dictators were leaders appointed in times of crisis.
• Chosen by consuls then approved by the Senate, Dictators had absolute power to make laws and control
• Their power would only last 6 months.
The Roman Military
• Romans placed a great value on their military.
• All landowning citizens were required to serve in the military.
• Some political positions even required 10 years of military service.
• Roman soldiers were organized into large military units known as legions.
• Therefore, soldiers were known as legionaries.
• The army was the tool of imperial expansion
• The Roman army was a highly disciplined force and the backbone of Rome
• Initially, all free men served two-years
• Later, professional soldiers filled the ranks
• As the empire expanded, non-Romans joined to gain Roman citizenship
• The phalanx was the basic unit (Later it would be divided into smaller units
• These units could combine to form a legion if necessary.
• In the fourth century B.C., Rome began to expand.
o The Romans defeat the Etruscans in the north and the Greeks in the south.
o Within 150 years, it had captured almost all of Italy.
• Rome treated the conquered peoples justly. They even allowed some of the conquered peoples to enjoy the
benefits of citizenship.
• 211 BC: Romans conquered the Greek city of Syracuse, Sicily-plundered Greek art
• 146 BCE Greece becomes a Roman Province
Rome vs. Carthage
• With full control of the Italian peninsula, Rome establishes a prosperous trade network throughout the
• This brings Rome into conflict with the Punics.
• The Punics were from Carthage, a powerful trading city located in North Africa (Tunisia).
• The Punic Wars
o In the third and final Punic Wars, Rome once again attacks the hated rival Carthage.
o Rome burns the city to the ground and enslaves its 50,000 inhabitants.
o It was even said that the Romans covered the ground in salt so that the earth would not be able to
produce any more crops.
o With Carthage finally destroyed, Rome gains dominance over the western Mediterranean
• The Romans took over their neighbors one by one
• 27 BC Republic becomes Roman Empire
• Rome was now the sole power in the Mediterranean and very prosperous.
• But as the territory grew, so did the gap between the rich and poor.
• The wealthy patricians benefited greatly from Roman expansion.
o Slaves brought from conquered territories were sold to wealthy landowners.
• At one point, 1/3 of the population was slaves.
Head of an old man, from Osimo, mid-first century BCE.
Function: show elevated class status through genealogy
Waxed death masks
Bust of ancestors kept in the home
Portrait of a Roman general, from the Sanctuary of Hercules, Tivoli, Italy, ca. 75-50 BCE.
Cuirass(breastplate): military general
Body: Hero (Idealized)
Face: portrait (verism)
Verism is the artistic preference of contemporary everyday subject matter instead of the heroic or legendary in art
and literature; a form of realism. The word comes from Latin verus (true).
• Verism can be defined as a sort of hyperrealism in sculpture where the naturally occurring features of the
subject are exaggerated, often to the point of absurdity.
• In the case of Roman Republican portraiture, middle age males adopt veristic tendencies in their portraiture
to such an extent that they appear to be extremely aged and care worn.
• This stylistic tendency is influenced both by the tradition of ancestral imagines as well as a deep-seated
respect for family, tradition, and ancestry.
• The imagines were essentially death masks of notable ancestors that were kept and displayed by
the family. In the case of aristocratic families these wax masks were used at subsequent funerals
so that an actor might portray the deceased ancestors in a sort of familial parade.
• The ancestor cult, in turn, influenced a deep connection to family. For Late Republican politicians without
any famous ancestors (a group famously known as ‘new men’ or ‘homines novi’) the need was even more
acute—and verism rode to the rescue.
• The adoption of such an austere and wizened visage was a tactic to lend familial gravitas to
families who had none—and thus (hopefully) increase the chances of the aristocrat’s success in
both politics and business.
Funerary relief with portraits of the Gessii, from Rome(?), Italy, ca. 30 BCE.
Plebian Relief Sculpture, Slavery was common
Stylistic tastes tied to social and political status
Funeral portraits of deceased freedmen.
Legal members of society-thus the portraits
• Scene from the Villa of the Mysteries
• An initiate is flagellated (by a winged woman out of view)
• Another women plays cymbals while in a frenzied dance
• The technique give a three-dimensional image on a two dimensional surface
• Portraits were common, as seen in Young Woman With a Stylus
• This was probably the Lesbian poet Sappho—from the Isle of Lesbos, but not necessarily homosexual
Pompeii and the cities of Vesuvius
Buried by a volcano 79 AD
Excavated mid 1700’s
Classical Revival 1760’s- (Neo Classic period)
Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, Italy 60-50 BCE
Celebrate rites of the god of Bacchus
• Women emulate Ariadne
• Figures interact across the room
• Fasting, alcohol, physical abuse
• Pictorial devices: Modeling of figures- illusion of a ledge
Roman Fresco Painting, Four Styles from Pompeii
• Not portable,
• Fresco: mortar, lime, marble dust, color
• Wet on wet
• Used to lighten up windowless interiors
Gardenscape, 2nd style Villa of Livia. Primaporta, Italy 30-20 BCE
• Illusion of nature
• Atmospheric Perspective: blurring of colors further away
• no framing element
Gardenscape, Second Style wall painting, from the Villa of Livia, Primaporta, Italy, ca. 30–20 BCE.
• Tiny floating landscape, no illusionism
• Picture gallery
• Candelabra replaced columns
• Wall is painted to support framed paintings as in a gallery
Portrait of Husband and wife, wall painting Pompeii, Italy 70-79 CE
Which attributes show social class?
Scroll, Stylus, writing tablet
FROM REPUBLIC TO EMPIRE
• Rome begins to build an empire
• Conquest of the known world was the extension of conquest of the Italian peninsula by the Latins
• War with the Phoenicians of Carthage (Punic Wars) was the first phase of Roman expansion
• Other expeditions led to Roman control of the entire Mediterranean (Mare Nostrum, “Our Sea”) and much of
Europe: Hispania (now Spain), Gallia (France) Britannia (England) and part of Germania (Germany)
• Led by military dictators, of which Julius Caesar was the best known
• Caesar expanded the empire to include western and central Europe
• He directed the construction of a wooden bridge to enable the troop to invade and conquer Germania
• Under Caesar Augustus, the empire entered into a pax romana (peace under Rome)
• This, which brought in a long era of high culture and stability
• In Rome- presentation of absolute power
• Creation, manipulation, and display of imagery
• Persuasion of those who are subjugated to accept it
44BC Julius Caesar Murdered!
The Ides of March
• Rome: Civil war for 13 years
• 32 BC Octavian (Augustus), the grandnephew and adopted son of Caesar, crushes Anthony and Cleopatra-
they commit suicide.
• Egypt becomes a Roman province 30 BC
THE EARLY EMPIRE, 27BC-96AD
• Senate confers the title of Augustus on Octavian-27 BCE
• Supreme emperor
• Calls himself the son of god
• Controls all aspects of Roman public life
How does the change in the political structure of the Empire change the artistic representation?
From Verism to Idealism
Portrait of Augustus as general
• He was 76 when this was made
• Polykletian style
• A god and a man
• Every part carries a political message
• Cupid- descended from gods
• Hero- bare feet
• Cuirass: military power
Aule Metele (Arringatore), from Cortona, near Lake Trasimeno, Italy, early first century BCE.
• Oratorical pose
• Cuirass: current events-the return of the captured Roman military standards by the Parthians
Pax Augusta aka PAX ROMANA
• Peace reigns for 200 years
• Huge number of public works projects
• Art and architecture become a tool of propaganda
• Classical style after the Athenians
Portrait bust of Livia
• Wife of Augustus
• Not veristic, peak of youth and health
• Classical Greek Goddess
Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace looking northeast), Rome, Italy, 13–9 BCE.
• The Altar of Augustan peace:Documents a specific event
• Commemorates Augustus’ return after the conquer of Gaul
• Union of portraiture and allegory, religion and politics
• Private and public message
God Aeneas making a sacrifice
Aeneas: son of Venus
Female personification (Tellus?), panel from the east facade of the Ara Pacis Augustae,
Personification of peace, prosperity, and fertility
Goddess Pax( peace) Ceres( grain) or Venus( love)?
Goddess Pax-mother earth-nurtures the Roman people-babies
Women with billowing veils= sea wind & land
fertility of Roman farms , domination over the Mediterranean
Ara Pacis Procession of the Imperial family
Decline in birth rate-Emperor Augustus encouraged marriage, marital fidelity, tax relief and large
Pont-du-Gard, 16 BCE Nimes Frances
Function: Bridge and aqueduct
Each person had 100 gallons of water per day
Coliseum: Flavian Amphitheater 70-80 CE
Former site of Nero’s Domus Aurea
Held 50,000 spectators
Games for 100 days running
Gladiators, animal combats, dead Christians
Colosseum: Flavian Amphitheater 70-80 CE
Exterior travertine marble, interior concrete
Unification of the multistoried façade
ARCH COLUMN construction
Used 3 orders of architecture: Tuscan Doric, Ionic and Corinthian
Equivalent to 16 stories tall
Elliptical shape, concentric circles, banked seats with valerium
Aerial view of the Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater), Rome, Italy, ca. 70–80 CE.
barrel and groin
The Flavian Dynasty 69-96 CE
General Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian ruled for 25 years
Colosseum 70-80 CE
Arch of Titus, Rome 81 CE
celebrate military victories, propaganda for ruler
Corinthian and Ionic mixed
Arch of Titus, Rome, Italy, after 81 CE.
Spandrels; Arch Titus
Spandrels: area between the curve of the arch and the frame
Personified Victories: (Nike)winged women as in Greek art
Trajan: The First Spanish Emperor 98CE
He became all things to all people: popular
Instituted Social Programs
He and Augustus became the yardsticks for success
Goal of all Emperors: Felicior Augusto, Melior Traiano
luckier than Augustus, better than Trajan
The Forum of Trajan;
Architect Apollodorus of DamascusRome 112 CE
Rome’s greatest forum to glorify Emperor Trajan
Huge Basilica rather than temple dominates the colonnaded square.
Celebration of victory over the Dacians.
• Forum: a complex Greek agora. Several in each city.
• Basilica, temples, library, triumphal arches, colonnades of shops.
Column of Trajan, Forum of Trajan, Rome, Italy, dedicated 112 CE. –118 CE.
• Arch of Trajan 114-118 CE
• Relief panels
• Billboard function
• Advertise Emperors achievements
• Trajan granting land
Hadrian as General,
Successor to Trajan; also Spaniard
Age 49 forever
Synthesis of the real and the ideal
Rome, Italy AD 118-125
Most influential in architectural history
Uses full potential of concrete
Metamorphis from real to virtual -earth to heavens
Pantheon: all the gods
Interior orb of the earth
7 planets: seven niches
Dome: vault of the heavens
27’d. oculus-the sun
stars in the coffers
The Antonines 138-192 CE
Peaceful Succession: from Hadrian Antoninus Pius, 23 yrs, Marcus Aurelius
138-Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius (age 51)
Antoninus adopted Marcus Aurelius
End of Antonine Dynasty
Marcus Aurelius, detail of a relief from a lost arch, 175-180 CE, marble, life size
Turning point in art history
Classical style being challenged
Beyond Republican verism- exposure of the soul
His personality appears
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, Rome, Italy 175AD Bronze11’ 6” high
Why not melted down during middle ages?
Power and Authority/
Super human size
Figure beneath horse?
Gesture of clemency
Commodus as Hercules
Commodus: Son of Marcus Aurelius
Decadent and insane
Septimius Severus takes power
The Late Empire 192-337CE
Lack of order and challenges to authority
Under attack on all fronts-military important
Economy in decline
Decline of state religion :moving from a pagan to a Christian world
• Edward Gibbon fixes the date of the fall in 476 CE, when Odoacer, a Germanic officer in the Roman
army overthrew the last emperor Romulus Augustulus
• Odoacer leads the “Barbarians at the Gates”
• Others fix the date at 410 CE with the First Sack of Rome, a siege led by another Germanic officer
Alaric; lack of food induced Alaric’s army induced it to leave
• Alaric (lower left) died in 411, after his forces left
• Dates vary from 410 CE to as recent as 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Turks; clearly this is a
matter of definition
The Third Century: Soldier Emperors
Soldier emperors for the next 70 years
Troubled times-out of control
Death by assassination- frequently
Little building activity
Art expressed general/symbolic qualities
Simplified and geometric forms
Increased demand for engravers & sculptors
• Designing coins
• Busts of ever changing emperors
Heroic portrait of Trebonianus Gallus, from Rome, Italy, 251–253 CE.
How does it reflect the art of the “soldier emperors”?
Not Greek Idealism-
Image of brute force
Battle of Romans and barbarians (Ludovisi Battle Sarcophagus), from Rome, Italy, ca. 250–260 CE.
What aspects would define this as Late Roman Empire art?
The Four Tetrachs 305 CE porphyry, 4’3” high Saint Marks Venice
Characteristics of Roman sculpture in 4th
• Cubic heads
• Squat bodies
• schematic drapery
• Shapeless bodies
• Emotionless masks
Diocletian and the Tetrarchy 284-306 CE
Division of the Roman Empire into West and East
Diocletian: Augustus of the East
Power sharing “rule by four”
Division continued throughout the Middle Ages;
The Four Tetrachs 305 CE porphyry, 4’3” high
Characteristics of Roman sculpture in 4th
• Cubic heads
• Squat bodies
• schematic drapery
• Shapeless bodies
• Emotionless masks
What do these statues tell us about the rule of the four tetrachs?
No indiv. identity
Embracing each other
Arch of Constantine (south side), Rome, Italy, 312–315 CE.
Commemorates defeat of Maxentius
Arch of Constantine 312-315 CE Rome
Reuse of statues and reliefs
From Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius
Decline in creativity
Association with “good” emperors
Continuity of the empire
Constantine (in center without head) addressing the people.
Portrait of Constantine, from the Basilica Nova, Rome, Italy, ca. 315–330 CE.
313:Issued Edict of Milan- no persecution of Christians
The beginning of the Middle Ages
324: Founded New Rome: Constantinople
325: Christianity becomes the official religion
Initiates many major changes:
• Recognizes the new religion of Christianity. Gives freedom for Christians to worship.
• Moves away from the classical style.
• Changes the scale and materials of some sculpture.
• Borrows reliefs from previous “good” Emperors. These are called ‘Spolia’
• Arch of Constantine (south side), Rome, Italy, 312–315 CE.
• Commemorates defeat of Maxentius
• Arch of Constantine 312-315 CE Rome
• Reuse of statues and reliefs
• From Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius
• Decline in creativity
• Association with “good” emperors
• Continuity of the empire
• Constantine (in center without head) addressing the people.
Decline and Fall
• The Edict of Milan of 313 CE allowed Christians freedom of worship and toleration became official policy
• The state religion of the empire itself was Christianity by the end of the fourth century
• When the fall finally came, Christianity was established in Rome
• Rome was divided into the West and the East in 286 as an administrative convenience, but set the stage for
the Eastern and Western churches.
Factors Involved in the Fall of Rome
• Christianity: Rome proved unable to resist the spread of Christianity despite persecution, partly because of
its widespread appeal (details in the next presentation on roots of Christianity)
• Bread and circuses (including gladiator contests at the coliseum) were used to support and entertain the
returning soldiers after the conquests ended
• Moral and political decline: The emperor as office became a source of wealth, corruption, and an object of
contention between armed factions
• Social conditions: most Romans lived in poverty as the urban infrastructure declined
• Division of the empire: the empire was divided into east (Greek) and west (Latin) by Diocletan in 296 CE
• Several explanations, not just one, satisfactorily explain the decline.
• Romans were imperialists first and republicans second
• Even the Republican era was one of conquests in the Italian peninsula—much like manifest destiny in the
United States during the 19th
• Much of the themes emphasize war and conquest
• The arts mostly had a practical side
• Toward the end of the era, wealth mattered more than duty that had marked Rome’s earlier years
• The insecurity of the latter years also opened the populace to new ideologies: mystical cults, revivals of
older beliefs from Egypt—and Christianity