Antique roman statues

The art of Ancient Rome dates back to the II century. To n. e., since republican Rome strove not for contemplative knowledge of the world, but practical possession of it. The art of Ancient Rome with its original and perfect monuments of painting, architecture, and sculpture belongs to the highest achievements of world culture. Roman fine art, like the art of the Greeks, is an integral part of the artistic system of antiquity. The boundaries of the Roman state and its sphere of influence were large. Many different peoples and tribes were included in the orbit of the artistic influences of Rome. Roman art, developing within the framework of the ancient slave era, was at the same time very different from it. The formation and formation of the cultures of the Romans took place in other historical conditions. The knowledge of the world of the Romans took on new forms. Their art is perceived as more prosaic in contrast to the Greeks. A striking feature of the art of Rome is its close connection with life. Many historical events were reflected in artistic monuments. The change in the colonial system — the replacement of the republic by the empire, and the change of the dynasties of the rulers of Rome — directly affected the changes in pictorial, sculptural, and architectural forms. It is from this time that it is not difficult to determine the time of the creation of a particular work based on stylistic features.

Rome sculptures laocoon

The Greek predecessors of Roman art were legendary. In the middle of the 5th century BC. c. the most famous Greek artists were Polygnotos, known for his wall frescoes, and Apollodoros, the founder of chiaroscuro. In sculpture, the greatest sculptors were Scopas, Praxiteles, Phidias, and Lysippus.

A large digit of Roman replications of Greek art says of the respect of Roman artists for it. Many artistic structures and techniques used by the Romans - elevated and low relief, free-standing statues, bronze cast, art vases, architectural sculpture - all of them were developed by ancient Greek artists.

Greek artists were highly respected in association, in contrast, most Roman artists were unknown and viewed as merchants. While the Greeks revered the aesthetic qualities of excellent art and devoted many works to art theory. Roman art was more decorative, indicated status and wealth, and was not the subject of study and admiration by scientists or philosophers. Roman art was created to order and for wider masses of the population than in Greek times.

According to legend, the first sculptures in ancient Rome appeared during the reign of Tarquinius the Proud. The material for them then was clay. It was the clay sculptures that decorated the roof of the temple of Jupiter, which was built on Capitol Hill. The Romans started using bronze a little later than the Greeks. This happened only in the 5th century. to n. One of the oldest known bronze sculptures was a statue of the fertility goddess Ceres. In the V-IV centuries. to n. e. in Ancient Rome, sculptural images of not only gods but also famous nobles - senators, consuls, and their ancestors, who were placed in the Forum according to the law - appear.

Unlike the ancient Greeks, the Roman sculptural portrait was more associated with the cult of ancestors. There was an ancient custom of removing posthumous wax masks from the dead. Then they were kept together with the sculptures of penates and lars in a room specially prepared for them in the house, from which they were taken out only during solemn burials of a member of the family and served as a kind of indicator of his nobility. It was this circumstance that determined the need for portrait similarity of the image with the depicted. The sculpture was supposed to glorify a person and his descendants.

Sarcofago Grande Ludovisi

Both Etruscan and Greek heritage had a significant influence on the formation of the Roman portrait. The influence of the latter became especially noticeable at the end of the III century. to n. e., when the Romans, having captured Greek cities, looted them and took away everything worthy of attention. Sculptures were also exported to Rome as trophies. Having reached the capital of the empire, they were exhibited both at the forum and in temples, private city houses, and parks. Thus, over time, the ancient Roman sculpture acquires another function — it becomes a mandatory element of the interior.

For the period of the Early Republic, mechanical copying of the portrait features of a specific person is still characteristic. An example can be a bronze sculpture that became known under the name "Orator".

The statue known as the “Orator”

The flowering of realistic portraits of Roman masters, among whom there were many freed Greeks from slavery (for example, the Greek master Stefan), experienced the highest flowering in the 1st century. to n. e. Well-known portraits of Pompey, Cicero, and Caesar date from this time. The famous bas-reliefs on the Field of Mars that decorated the wall surrounding the Altar of Peace (9 BC) are impressive with their grandeur. It was built in honor of the victories of Augustus the Great in Gaul and Spain. The Hellenistic spirit is reflected both in the bas-reliefs that decorated the Arch of Titus and in the sculptural portraits of Andrian and Antony III. Interest in history as a sequential development of events is noticeable already in the period of the Republic - in bas-reliefs with "continuous narration". The Altar of Peace (9 BC) is an example of their use. The reliefs depict a sacrifice, a solemn procession. The figures are neatly arranged in parallel plans that go deep: perspective is put at the service of a symbolic hierarchy. There is no rhythm, but there is intonation.

In the era of the Early Empire, ceremonial and official portraits dominate. A striking example of the latter is the sculptural portrait of Emperor Augustus (Fig. 43). Augustus is depicted as a commander with his hand raised high, in which he holds a scepter. The sculptor managed to masterfully convey the majestic calmness and balance of the composition. During the reign of the Flavian dynasty (the second half of the 1st century AD), in sculpture, masters managed to combine bright individualization with the precision of the expression of a uniquely human character. Such are the portraits of Vitellius and Vespasian, who is credited with the famous saying: "Money doesn't smell."

Prima Porta statue

Official portrait sculpture of the Augustan period, beginning with the Prima Porta statue, bears similar features. An obvious appeal to the Greek canon and a desire for state considerations. The reliefs of the Arch of Titus are far from the classicism of Augustus. The reliefs seem to open a window into the wall, the space is organized picturesquely and perspectively. Silhouettes create the impression of depth of space.

Trajan's Column (113 AD) is created by a spiral of reliefs with a story about the emperor's military exploits. The 200-meter tape shows episodes of two campaigns in Dacia. The landscape is conveyed by details — free or a piece of wall. Normal proportions are not used. The sculptor is distinguished by an almost common folk sympathy for the defeated - he is not a Roman, not a Greek, and not from Asia Minor.

Provincial artists, mixed with the classics, create a new artistic language, which will later be known as late antique art.

Although during the time of Hadrian (117-138), classical art experienced a new rise - thanks to his tastes, it was short-lived. The degradation of classical art leads to the strengthening of anti-classical trends. The distinction between official court art and other art is increasing. In the direction of Hadrian classicism, exquisite portraits of Antinous, and medallions with hunting scenes were created.

The fashion for sarcophagi with story reliefs began to assert itself under Hadrian. Later, it spread more and more due to the huge number of workshops in Rome. Various plots are used - historical, mythological, and allegorical. They are reproduced from memory, adding details depending on the author or the customer. Usually, it is generalized elegiac themes about the transience of life and the inevitability of death. This poetic mood leads to the violation of classical canons. The composition is different: the story is either continuous or divided: horizontally into strips, vertically into niches or aedicules. The space is not organized, but simply filled with many figures, rhythmically combined. The clarity of plastic language, the variety of themes, and the use of allegories and symbols explain why sarcophagi were so popular for conveying the first Christian themes and became one of the important connecting links between late antique and early medieval art.

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