Roman art


The Roman art derives from the Etruscan art and Greek art, especially the Hellenistic. It was characterized both by the buildings of a monumental nature , and by having a utilitarian purpose , because most of these were directed to a social purpose.


What is Roman art?

Roman art corresponds to the artistic production that takes place in ancient Rome. Initially, it originates under the influence of two peoples who lived in Europe . First of all, the Etruscans , who were in northern Italy and who developed a particular art that is based on mythological themes borrowed from the Greeks. Secondly, the Greeks , settled in Italy to the south and in Sicily, who developed an art that takes up themes from classical mythology. However, it is important to note that Roman art does not celebrate gods like the Greeks, nor life like the Etruscans. Roman art celebrates above all the greatness of Rome and the Romans.


Characteristics of Roman art

To the Greek influence are added novelties such as the use of new materials, different construction systems and modifications in the architectural orders and a tendency to the colossal due to its large buildings. It is possible to highlight the practical or / and utilitarian aspects of his works, as well as their decorative purpose . In techniques such as sculpture, perfection and similarity with Greek culture are encompassed, due to the predominance of realism and human figures with a narrative character.


Historical chronology of Rome

It could be distinguished in three periods:

Monarchy: 753 a. C. to 510 a. C.

  • It is estimated that the foundation of Rome was approximately in 753 a. C.
  • In 509 a. C., the Romans expelled the Etruscans and thus convert the monarchy into a republic.

Republic: 510 a. C. to 27 a. C .

  • After the dethroning of the Tarquin kings (500 BC) the Roman Republic was founded.
  • Approximately in 450 a. The Romans colonize Italy.
  • The conquest of the Greek state of Egypt by Rome (300 BC approx.)
  • Birth of the Roman Empire . (27 BC)

Empire: 27 B.C. to 476 d. C.

  • Jesus birth.
  • Birth of the Empire thanks to Augustus (Octavio)
  • Construction of the forum and the mausoleum of Augustus.
  • The decline of Rome (by the 3rd century AD)

Roman architecture

Roman arts

It was characterized by a civil character based on the curved line, in which technical innovations such as the arch, the vault and the use of domes are introduced .

It has a strong influence of Greek origin , in which they introduce novelties such as: the Tuscan column, a capital similar to the Doric, smooth shaft and supported on a base; the use of the compound order, Corinthian capital with the Ionic scrolls; and the use of a kind of concrete or mortar based on sand and pebbles.

Architecture acquires a predominance of public works at the order of society and urbanism, in which the following stand out:

  • Temples: They were characterized by having a similarity to a building-facade and having an elevated base through which it was reached by means of a staircase. Contrary to the Greek temples, the Tuscan order is used in the first times and later the Corinthian. Example: The Temple of Nîmes ( France )
  • The forum: It acquires a monumental character after the 1st century BC. C. due to the fact that daily life becomes more complex and due to social aspects, a place for meetings was required. Each of the cities had a forum and a central square, where statues of famous politicians and emperors were exhibited. Example: The Forum of Pompeii.
  • The basilica: Its utility was intended for administration functions or merchants’ meetings. It was characterized by having a rectangular shape. Its importance is seen in the future with Christian art. Example: Basilica of Maxentius.
  • The hot springs: They were the social centers, which were divided into three large bath rooms, massage rooms, changing rooms and gardens. Example: The baths of Trajan , Caracalla and Dioclesiano.
  • The theater: Building with Greek similarity which is adapted to your needs. The Romans vary their construction by vaulting the galleries. Example: Theater of Liptis Magna (Libya).
  • The amphitheaters: Another monumental construction which is made up of an elliptical plan, is divided into: the stands for the public, the arena for the show and a set of underground galleries under the arena and the stands, for the beasts, wrestlers , etc.
  • The arches of triumph: Initially they are used to commemorate victories and later they begin to be seen in all the entrances of the cities.

Painting in Roman art

The few paintings that have been known present a utilitarian character in which it is used to adorn the walls of buildings, made using the fresco technique. For which they are kept in buildings and ruins. Mosaic stands out as a representative technique , with geometric and animalistic motifs; where it was sought to represent themes of daily life or mythology . In them perspective was used in order to give a sense of depth and chiaroscuro to represent volumes and expressions.

In the fresco it was common to see colors such as yellows, reds and oranges representing themes of mythological and historical origin.

In the mosaic it is made with tesserae (small stones), of different colors, also with geometric and animal motifs and human figures.

Sculpture in Roman art

As in painting, sculpture was influenced by Greek culture, where the materials were marble and bronze. The presence of the portrait or bust predominates with quite expressiveness , almost always serene or sad. In the background the presence of narrative reliefs in which warrior values ​​and triumphs over enemies and the human figure over any other decorative element were exalted.

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