Paintings and sculptures in ancient Rome were used to develop quite an array of subjects to ornament both public and private buildings. The Romans were known for their prowess as architects, city planners and decorators of public and private spaces. This is due to the fact they could design for functions or even for beauty. The ancient art work in Rome maybe attributed to historians such as Pliny. Romans in the ancient times lived in highly visual societies that were surrounded by images. Some of these paintings range from those on walls such as Pompeii, Herculaneum. These paintings portrayed the lifestyle of the rich people through the decorations on the walls of the seaside resort.
This paper will analyze several paintings and sculptures in order to demonstrate the range of the Utilitarian building and those meant to beautify the spectacle city of Rome. It will also use these paintings as examples in which they show the range of subjects from heroic, pastoral, fantastical or portraits. To start with, the period between the 3rd century and the year 400 there were many paintings that range from the Catacombs of Rome. These paintings indicated the continuous aspect of domestic decorative tradition through versions that were adapted in burial chambers.
The paintings used in ancient Rome depict various subjects that describe the lives of the people during those days. These subjects included themes, daily encounters, portraits, mythological aspects as well as animals. The Hellenistic period marked an important period in time as the paintings brought out the satisfactions of the countryside through representation of different scenarios. The most prestigious form of art in ancient Rome was panel painting that included works such as tempera or encaustic painting that was done on wooden panels. However, Woods was considered, not as a good material as it would perish. Some paintings made of wood that survived include Severan Tondo done in A.D 200. This was followed by the Fayum mummy portraits. These portraits were mostly attached to burial mummies at the face. This was done in order to portray a single person presenting the head or upper chest from the front view.
Another range of painting that was used to demonstrate the beautification and the Spectacle City of Rome was through the gold sandwich glass also known as the gold glass. This was a technique used in the fixation of a layer of gold leaf using designs between two fused layers of glass. The imperium is one of the paintings that illustrate heroic and pastoral portraits. It was done by Suetonius, The Divine Augustus XXXI, 5 where he bestowed honor upon the memory of the leaders who had raised it to the Roman people form insignificance to greatness. This painting reincarnated the works of men with original dedicatory inscriptions of each painter. It also set up statutes of all the leaders.
Similarly, another building done during this period was the basilica (Aemilia) which was built after Aemilius under the reasons that he was descended from the same family as the man who had originally made it. The building was done by Augustus and his friends Paullus. Buildings and paintings of this caliber were designed for people in high rankings and the rich in the society. For instance, Suetonius, The Divine Augustus LXXII, 1-3 lived near the Forum Romanum that was situated above the Ring-makers stairs. This was in a house that initially belonged to Calvus the orator. After this, he lived on the Palatine in the house of Hortensius which was also conspicuous for its decorations and size.
The arts of ancient Rome promoted a sense of Romanitas to wider public in that they demonstrate the aspect of how buildings were constructed using specific measurements. Utilitarian buildings were representations of real and indiscriminate tastes of the present. They were monstrosities of paintings done on stuccoed walls based on actual things instead of columns of the structural elements. The candelabra were viewed as supporting figures of small shrines. The Great Fire, the Golden House (Domus Aurea). The Fayum mummy portrait is another example of the portraits done to give a naturalistic painted portrait on wooden boards.
The Domus Aurea was constructed of brick and concrete within a few years between the fire and Nero’s suicide in 68. They gave an extensive gold leaf of the villa with the name that was very extravagant in terms of décor. It had stuccoed ceilings that applied semi-precious stones and ivory veneers. The walls were frescoed and coordinated the decorations into different themes with each major group of rooms. The face of this statue was modified shortly after the death of Nero during the Vespasian reign to make it truly a statue of Sol. The building was later named the Colosseum in the middle Ages which was after the statue that was near according to historians. The Golden House was designed as a place for entertainment through the presence of 300 rooms with no sleeping quarter. The rooms sheathed in dazzling polished white marble as given by rich floor plans with niches and exedras that concentrated or dispersed the daylight. The pools in the floors and fountains splashing in the corridors were also a clear demonstration of the spectacle city of Rome.
The Damnation memoriae that lie under the ruins of the Baths of Trajan is another illustration of buildings in the Spectacle City of Rome. It was stripped off its marble and jewels of ivory within a decade. The Renaissance marks the period where a young Roman fell through the hillside of Esquiline at a cave called grotta that was filled with painted figures. He and others uncovered another style of frescoes. This period also characterized a period where other classical artworks such as the Laocoon and his sons and the Venus callipygous were found near the Domus remains.
The Ranuccio is another painting that describes the oldest painting in Rome found in a Tomb on the Esquilline Hill. This painting described a historical scene which was painted in four sections. In the historical aspect of this painting, four people are mentioned. These people include Marcus, Fannies and Marcus Fabius. This painting also characterized the forms of luxury that was applied at very high quality.
Another example was the Colosseum which was the greatest arena that could encompass about 50,000 spectators. It had a retractable fabric that covered it for shade. It could also stage massive spectacles that included huge gladiatorial contests and mock naval battles. It was a masterpiece in the Roman architecture that epitomized Roman engineering efficiency and incorporated the three architectural orders. These included the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. This should be coupled with the dome construction of the Pantheon, the baths of Diocletian and the Baths of Caracalla. The Pantheon was the best temple that was preserved with an intact ceiling featuring an open eye in the center the height of the ceiling was equal to the interior diameter of the building. This created an enclosure that held a giant sphere.
Pliny and Suetonius were largely involved in the construction of various buildings that portrayed their love for prestigious art work. They had engaged in many works that brought about tension to the people and cities between otium and negotium. However, most of the memorable constructions done during these times were destroyed in eruptions that occurred in mountains such as Vesuvius according to the letter of Pliny. It was during this time that after Nero had died his successors engaged in the construction of other buildings. This is how the Vespasian brought about the construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre which could be reflooded at will with the Colossus Neronis beside it. This was done to safeguard the paintings by keeping them in dampness. The city of Pompeii was one of the ancient Roman town cities that were destroyed after Mount Vesuvius had erupted and destroyed as well as buried the Herculaneum. This marks how some of the prestigious buildings and artworks perished. The eruption became tourist attractions according to Pliny the Younger as they depicted the Utilitarian building and those meant to beautify the Spectacle City of Rome. They also brought out the distinct features of the buildings and paintings in terms of what they represented.
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