Ancient Roman Art

Ancient Roman art was influenced by culture and tradition of the countries that were part of the ancient Roman Empire. One of the countries that influenced the art of ancient Rome, was Greece. Roman history would be incomplete, if Roman art is not mentioned.

The golden period of ancient Roman art was between 750 BC and 410 AD. Architecture, painting, mosaic work and sculpture were the prominent art forms of ancient Rome. While, ivory carving, figurine glass, pottery, metal work, gem engraving and coin-die were the less significant art forms of ancient Roman culture.

Roman Emperors such as Constantine and Justine promoted many forms of arts. Many of the paintings, sculptures and mosaics of ancient Romans had a touch and charm of Greek culture. The Greeks who had migrated to Rome from Greek colonies and provinces created many of the artworks of ancient Rome.

Some of the famous Greek sculptors were Skopas, Phidas, Lysippos and Praxitele. The Greek artists were held in high esteem by the Roman artists and the latter copied their style. Many of the major and the minor artworks of the ancient Romans such as mosaic, coin die, landscape painting, were wholly borrowed from the Greeks.

Roman art was very colorful and decorative. It mainly indicated the wealth and status of the subject. Whereas, the Greeks paid more attention to the aesthetic and natural beauty and qualities of a subject.

Wealthy Romans promoted art and architecture. The Romans loved to decorate the walls of their homes and offices with beautiful sculptures and mural paintings. Ancient Roman women were also fond of fine jewelry and clothes. These factors assisted in the growth of Roman art.

Between the 4th and the 6th century, panel painting and the wooden painting had died; while art forms such as wall paintings, mosaic ceiling and floor work thrived. Historians opine panel painting became unpopular due to religious reasons. Remember, during this period Christianity was gaining importance.

Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Byzantium and renamed the city as Constantinople. During this period, the Roman art form incorporated the best of the styles of Eastern Europe. This style came to be known as Byzantine art. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian, employed as many as 10,000 laborers and artisans to build the Church of Hagia Sophia, in Constantinople. He also ordered the artisans to create wall and ceiling mosaics in Ravenna, the capital of Western Roman Empire.

Roman artists used paints and brushes made from natural materials. Leaves and powdered rocks were used to make paint colors. Ochre (combination of alumina, silica and ferric oxide) was used to develop the shades of red and yellow. Chalk was used for white color. The Romans used seashells to get purple shade and blue shade was made from a combination of copper and glass. Soot was used for color black. Twigs, reeds and wood were used to make paintbrushes. Ivory and quality woods were used to make pens for writing.

To sum up, ancient Roman art also included Roman architecture. Ancient Romans had great architectural skills. The Aqueduct is one of the ancient Roman architectural marvels.