Roman Art and Architecture
Roman Art and Architecture was extensively copied from the Greeks.
The Romans made a huge impact on architecture, with the invention of a heavy-duty, load-bearing cement which facilitated the building of large scale arches for the first time.
The Grandeur and Importance of Rome was an excellent manner to portray Roman art and architecture. Roman architecture was awe-inspiring in its size, bold and built - to last.
In the History of Andalucia, the Romanization of Hispania - became one of the most significant provinces of the Roman Empire. The first administrative Roman sites were: Tarraco, Emporiae and Italica.
Hispania idealized its Roman Art and Architecture to become more Roman - than Rome. The style of art and architecture imported to Hispania was that of The Imperial Style - which evolved from 27BC to 476AD.
The Hellenistic Period (323BC to 146BC)
and its Influences on Roman Art
The Romans conquered Greece in 200BC. The Romans were very impressed by the quality of Greek art and sculpture.
Tiberius: Archaeological Museum, Cadiz
Roman Art and Architecture
Venus: Italica - Santiponce, Andalucia
Many Greek works of art, became Roman possessions, either bought or seized and were taken home.
Greek artisans became enslaved, they were put to work painting walls, making friezes, mosiacs and statues of fine marble and bronze, to adorn the Roman cities.
Figurative Roman Art at this period Focused on Mythology
Hercules Bronze Statue - Sancti Petri. 5th century BC found in Melquart Temple
Early Greek Archaic-style on Bronze Art.
Museo Arqueologico, Cadiz - Andalucia
Afrodita Goddess of Love and Beauty: Archaeological Musuem, Cordoba
Classical Greek Art was based on Symmetrical balance, Aesthetics and Beauty.
The statues and portraits of Roman art, represented more of a realistic-style. The Romans 'believed' that a true likeness was necessary, to appease the ghost of the person portrayed.
Roman portait-sculpture initiated using death masks - accenting rather macabre appearances.
During the reign of Augustus 31BC to 14AD the exaggerated faetures of the previous realistic-styles, was toned-down. The Hellenistic period style was readopted. Depiction of nobility and serenity were favoured and preferred for portrait-sculpture - introducing the Imperial style that would prevail thereafter.
Roman Art and Architecture Wall Paintings
Roman Wall Paintings were also Called Frescoes
: water-colour painting applied over fresh plaster. This format was long-lasting and therefore popular.
Wall painting meant exactly that: wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor were covered in paintings.
Walls were covered in a thick layer of lime-plaster which possibly contained sand, sometimes there were pieces of string or straw in the first layer. A second layer was added on a day-to-day process. Artists worked limited areas, as they painted over the fresh wet plaster. Work that dried overnight was painstakingly chipped off and redone.
The Four Pompeian Styles of Wall Paintings
Even though wall paintings were not considered a high-art, they were extremely popular... The Romans loved to decorate their homes and did as extravagantly as possible - according to each household's budget.
A veritable wealth of Classical Greco-Roman art was unearthed in Pompeii and Herculaneum - preserved, since 79 C.E. under the ashes of the erupted Mount Versuvius. In the 19th century, August May defined the four Pompeian styles of wall paintings.
- The 1st Pompeian Style: The Incrustation Style c.150 - 50 BCE
stucco and painted replications of coloured stones (like granite). A smooth marble-veneer was achieved by finely crushing marble. This, was in turn, added to the second coating of lime plaster. The Incrustation Style was a fashionable, simplistic decor favoured by many households
- The 2nd Pompeian Style: The Architectonic Style - 80BCE.
This style originated in Rome but gradually, perpetuated throughout the Roman Empire. This style, mitigated the confined sensation of small windowless rooms, typical of Roman homes.
Wall panels were painted to resemble marble. Architectural features were added, attempting a 3-D resemblance. Previously, these features had been moulded-on in plaster or in stucco.
Architectural themes were heavy and dominated the decor significantly. Intricate trompe l'oeil panels appeared during this period
This effect provided segmented-scenes of architecture, landscapes. Mythological or pastural elements induced particular moods. Gradually, landscapes evolved into having no surrounding frames, drawing the eye of the onlooker, into the sensation, of "looking out of a window"
- The 3rd Pompeian Style: The Ornamental Style 20BCE
Walls were treated as flat, symmetrical surfaces and this effect acted similarly as picture galleries. A characteristic of this style would be that large themes would unfold into smaller pictures.
Dream-like themes of still water-landscapes or of tranquil pastoral scenes frequently featured hallowed Temples and sacred vessels in the backdrop. Architecture, in this style, was ethereal and dainty
- The 4th Pompeian Style: The Baroque or Intricate Style c.62 - 79CE.
In this style, both the 2nd and 3rd styles were present, however, the architecture featured more predominantly, retaining a chimerical appearance
As the Roman Empire expanded, so did the influence on Roman Art and Architecture. The invention of the drill, made sculpting faster and easier, producing another new style.
Bust of Tiberius:
Archaeological Museum, Cordoba
Influences of Christianity began filtering into Roman art and architecture around c.300AD.
Figures were portrayed with their eyes looking up towards heaven, while true proportions of the body were not seen to be so important.
The influence of Christianity moved Roman Art into the expression of the Soul.
The Legacy of Roman Architecture
Roman Architecture used arches on a scale which had hitherto been unknown
. The Romans perfected the mixing of a heavy duty, waterproof, fire-resistant concrete: cement, sand and small-sized rocks binded in a limestone mixture with volcanic ashes and pulverized pumice.
This concrete facilitated the construction of large arches and domes that could carry a great deal of weight. The arches of Ancient Rome made a vast impact on architecture. This technique thereafter was copied and adapted throughout the world.
The Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks had Constructed Arches...
Without durable cement, their arches were limited to small-scale structures.
The Introduction of Roman Concretus...
...Meant that architects were no longer limited to size. As a result, huge domes added height and space to Roman public buildings, massive buildings could be constructed using arches and domes such as in the Colosseum. Triumphal arches recorded the results of the Roman conquests, Hadrian's wall endured the test of time through the use of Roman concrete and Roman bricks. Memorable Roman stone bridges crossed rivers such as The Alcántara Bridge (also known as Puente Trajan at Alcantara).
Concrete vaulting enabled the construction of the grand amphitheatres of Ancient Rome. This technique was used for the dome of the Pantheon. Vaulted halls: Basilicas were used as courtrooms and for civic matters such as the curia.
The Roman arch was copied and extensively used by Byzantine architects. Visigoth architects devised the horseshoe arch. Moorish Spain perfected it, where it became a unique feature of the Cordoba Mosque and of Caliphal Architecture. Both styles were a modification of the Roman arch.
Roman Technology: Aqueducts
Aqueducts, bridges, dams, sewerage systems...
Ancient Rome was efficiently furnished and slucied by eleven aqueducts, which worked by gravity-flow. The city received over 1 million litres per/day. Water flowed constantly through the city supplying households, squares and the beautiful fountains of Rome. The water continuously sluiced Rome's sewerage systems. This then flowed into the Tiber, which then drained into the Tyrrian Sea.
See: Moorish Water Technology
The first Roman Mosaics were pebbled pavements made from different coloured stones, arranged in non-uniform patterns.
By 400BC, the Greeks elevated the pebble technique to an art-form with their precise geometric patterns and intricate illustrations of animals and humans.
The small, manufactured, cubes known as tesserae, were introduced by the 2nd century BC. Illusionistic effects were created by painting each cube, grading colours, adding depth and perspective to the mosaic-subject. Paintings, thus were imitated. The mural mosaic "Scene from New Comedy" excavated from Pompeii - an excellent example of technique perfection in colour-grading of mosiac art.
Abstract, geometric, black and white designs developed in parallel with the figurative, colour work. In 64AD, Nero's architects covered the walls and ceilings with mosaics in the Domus Aurea.
Cave canem mosaics - beware of the dog were fashionable motifs for Roman villa thresholds.
Roman pottery was inspired by Estruscan pottery, but rapidly evolved it's own unique style.
During the Roman Republic, most pottery was made locally. In the era of Augustus, 63 BC – 14 AD, to meet the demands of an expanding empire, pottery was mass-produced in large factories. Arezzo in Italy, was famed for it potteries.
There were other potteries situated in southern France. This pottery, called Samian ware, was a distinctive red colour. It was very popular and exported throughout the Roman world.
The decorative elements were made by plaster moulds. The styles and shapes were influenced by the West Asian potters.
Popularity of Samian Ware
By c.70AD, the Italian and French Samian pottery was being extensivly copied. These imitations have different names according to where they were produced.
- Hispania Baetica copies were called Terra Sigillata Hispanica
- The North African copies, were known as African Red Slip Ware, or Terra Sigillata, were highly popular
Amphoras and lamps were also manufactured on a large scale.
African Red Slip ware was exported all over the western part of the Roman empire, eventually bankrupting the Italian and French potteries. The standard of craftsmanship slowly declined once the market had been flooded.
African Red Slip continued to be made until the 7th century. Islamic invaders introduced their vibrant lusters to the future al-Andalus Arts and Crafts.
The Transcendance of Roman Town Planning
Roman cities and towns were drawn up in a rectangular overall plans.
Two main streets divided the metropolis into sections:
(north-south street) and the Decumanus
Smaller streets subdivided each section. Roman cities were protected by a wall and gate.
Fresh running water and Public baths were an essential feature as were sewerage drains, keeping health and hygiene as a integral part of civilization.
Roman Art and Architecture Baelo Claudia Model
Roman Architecture was imperial, monumental and impressive - Centuries later...Spanish royalty chose to build two Roman-styled palaces: The Palace of Carlos V at the Alhambra Granada Spain and during the Spanish Siglo de Oro: Felipe 11's El Escorial Palace in San Lorenzo de El Escorial - whose architect Juan Bautista de Toledo had spent most of his life in Rome.
Roman influence survived the centuries, clearly visible, in Roman art and architecture.