The Different Types of Roman Art


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There are many types of Roman art spanning from the founding of the namesake capital city in 753 BCE to the fall of the city and western empire in 476 CE, a 1229 year period full of culture. From frescoes to sculptures to reliefs to pottery, many eras of style came and went to be discovered in the ruins of Pompeii and buried under modern european cities once under Imperial influence.


The most common style of art found in Rome is the mosaic style. One of the many cultural icons of hellenic origin assimilated into Roman culture and refined over many years, Mosaics were once simple pebble and grout images with low resolution compared to later examples, but when they came to the roman republic, they improved drastically. Roman mosaics were made of tesserae of marble and glass of many colors to make intricate images of mythology, nature and wildlife.

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The most influential style of art made widespread was sculpture. To this day, marble carvings such as statues and busts spread by the roman empire can be found in the streets and museums alike. Typically made of marble or bronze, statues could be cast directly into shape or chiseled out of blocks of stone over years to create a relatively simple depiction style found on the Statue of Liberty and countless other works of art.


When a statue couldn’t tell a story well enough, roman sculptors turned to the field of reliefs. Reliefs are three-dimensional scenes of baked clay or carved stones. Many reliefs that blurred the lines between statutes and reliefs were carved into the walls of temples and homes to depict myths and figures of prominence throughout the empire. Many other reliefs circled vases and pots of Terra sigillata clay pottery in the homes of wealthy Romans and buyers of roman goods.


A later form of Roman art, Frescoes appeared on ceiling and walls in the empire. Frescoes were colored or painted plaster applied in smooth layers to create a shallow third dimension to the art in question. This effect was achieved by layering wet plaster on wet plaster until the desired effect was achieved. Coloring was done in buon fresco which was pigment mixed with water in a thin layer of water which was allowed to soak into the plaster.


Roman art was mostly derived from other cultures, but Rome made many styles mainstream in the ancient world. Hundreds of thousands of artists and millions of pieces perfected methods and materials implemented in the empire and beyond physical and temporal boundaries of the medeterranian sea and 1000 year period of roman influence.

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