AP Art History
Roman Art

By the sixth century BCE, a group of people known as the Etruscans controlled a large and powerful empire near the coast of Italy, around what is now Rome. The Etruscans successfully ruled until they were overthrown by the Romans in 281 BCE. Strongly influenced by the Greeks, The Etruscans provided an artistic link between the Greeks and the Romans. The Romans will establish and rule one of the most extensive empires in history. Imposing their culture on all people under their domain, the Romans ruled an empire that stretched from the Euphrates River in the Near East, to North Africa, and to Scotland in Northern Europe.
 

CHRONOLOGY

  • Etruscan Supremacy: 700-509 BCE
  • Roman Republican Period: 509-27 BCE
  • Early Empire Period: 27 BCE-180 CE
  • The High Empire: 180-195 CE
  • The Late Empire: 195-400 CE
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    Roman Republican Period

    Introduction - The period known as the Roman Republic began with the overthrow of the last Etruscan king and lasted until the death of Julius Caesar. Historically, the Republic was a time of expansion that was accomplished through war and alliances. The expansion of the empire brought about social, political, and economic changes that defined the empire for centuries.

    Architecture - The growth of Republican architecture corresponded to the expansion of the empire. The style of Republican architecture were influenced by the Greeks, Egyptians, and the builders of the Near East.

     
  • Sanctuary of Fortuna, Palestrina (fig. 6-14), c100 BCE
  • Temple of "Fortuna Virilis (Temple of Portunus), Rome, late second or early first century BCE
  • Temple of the "Sibyl (Vesta), Tivoli, early first century BCE
  • Sculpture - Republican sculpture was characterized by a rise in the number of official and private images. Verism defined as the rendering of accurate and faithful portraits of the individual became very popular.

    Head of Roman Patrician, c75-50 BCE
  • Aulus Metellus, late second or early first century BCE
  • Ara Pacis, 13-9 BCE
  • Imperial Procession,(relief from Ara Pacis), 13-9 BCE
  • Allegory (relief rom Ara Pacis), 13-9 BCE
  • Augusta of Primaporta, early first century CE
  • Livia, c20 BCE

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    The Early Empire Period

     
    Introduction: Tiberius, the stepson of Augustus, began a line of Roman rulers known as the Julio-Claudians. This line of emperors ended with the rule of Nero. A brief period of civil war followed the death of Nero but eventually General Vespasian seized control and founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled until 96 AD.
     

    Painting - Wall Painting of the Early Empire-Roman wall paintings were historically and artistically important. The surviving examples are limited in number and are confined to settlements that were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

  • Initiation Rites of the Cult of Bacchus, Villa of the Mysteries, c50 BCE
  • Wall Decoration, Villa of the Mysteries, c50 BCE
  • Woman with a Veil, Villa of the Mysteries, c50 BCE
  • Cityscape, Boscoreale (near Pompeii) late first century CE
  • Wall Painting, detail from the house of Lucretius Fronto, mid first century CE
  • Still Life, detail wall painting from the house of Julia Felix, late first century CE
  • Still Life with Peaches, detail of wall painting from Herculaneum, c70 CE
  • Portrait of Husband and Wife, Pompeii, c70 CE
  • Hercules and Telephus, Herculaneum, 70 CE
  • Ixiom Room, from House of Vetti, c70-79 CE
       
    • Architecture and Architectural Sculpture - Architects of the two periods continued to experiment with concrete instead of traditional building materials. 
       
    • Colosseum, Rome, c72-80 CE
    • Arch of Titus, Rome, c81 CE
    • Spoils from the Temple of Solomon, detail from the Arch of Titus, Rome, c81 CE
    • Triumph of Titus, detail from arch of Titus, Rome, c81 CE
    • Sculpture - In contrast with the Republican period, portraits of people from all ages were preserved during the Early Empire.

    • Young Flavian Woman, c90 CE
    • Middle-Aged Flavian Woman, late first century CE



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      The High Empire Period

      The Five Good Emperors - Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines were known as the "Good Emperors." Their reigns were times of peace and prosperity.

       

      Architecture and Architectural Sculpture - Typical works from this time period were designed to celebrate and commemorate the reigns of the emperors.

       
    • Column of Trajan, Rome, 106-113 CE
    • Romans Crossing the Danube, detail from Column of Trajan, 106-113 CE
    • Pantheon, exterior view, Rome, 125-128 CE
    • Pantheon, reconstruction drawing, 125-128 CE
    • Giovani Panini, Interior of the Pantheon, c1734-35 CE
    • Canopus and Sarapeum, Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli, c135 CE
        • Sculpture

          Equestrian statues, such as the one honoring Marcus Aurelius represented a break with the classical tradition.

        • Marcus Aurelius, Rome, 161-180 CE
        • Commodus as Hercules, 190 CE

           

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          Painting
        • Battle of Centaurs and Wild Beasts, from Hadrian's Villa, 118-128 CE
        • Heracleitus, The Unswept Floor, mosaic, Rome,  second century CE  
        •   The Late Empire Period

          The Severans and the Tetrarchy - The death of Commodus, the son of Marcus Aurelius, marked the end of the Antonine dynasty. The erosion of Roman power became increasingly more evident. Order on the frontier was difficult to maintain. Imperial power was in question. The Severans ruled until the murder of Severan Alexander. Over the next several years, times were chaotic. Finally, in 284 AD, order was restored when Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor by his troops. Diocletian divided the empire into four regions and created the Tetrarchy (rule by four). Diocletian adopted the title "Augustus of the East".

          Architecture - The restoration of stability was reflected in the construction of monuments dedicated to the accomplishments of the emperors.

        • Arch of Constantine  

        • Architectural Sculpture - The colossal head of Emperor Constantine is all that remains of the thirty foot seated statue built in 330 AD. It was placed in the western apse of the Basilica of Constentine. The simplified details of the facial features marks a return to the earlier style of the Archaic period. 
        • The Tetrarchs, 305 AD
        • Constantine the Great, 330 AD.