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Ancient Roman Paintings Posted by on Apr 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

Although the ancient Roman Empire is long gone, it’s nice to know that there are still some relics of the civilization in which the ancient Romans lived. In particular, these precious relics are left in the form of paintings. For instance, the ancient Romans drew many still life paintings. The still life presented below is a depiction of a large container with fruit. If look closely, you can see that the bowl of fruit was painted to look three-dimensional. Remember that this painting was done in ancient Roman times, not today. It’s simply amazing because not all cultures that existed contemporaneously with the ancient Romans were skilled enough to draw three-dimensional objects.

It’s true that the ancient Romans copied many of their paintings from the ancient Greeks. However, there was one area of originality that the ancient Romans excelled over the ancient Greeks. This genre of painting in which the ancient Romans were superior was the genre of landscape painting. The ancient Romans had mastered shading, use of texture and techniques of perspective. Some landscape paintings were of the countryside with trees, animals and crops. While other landscape paintings showed the harmony of nature of public buildings, villas and other manmade structures. The painting below is an example of an ancient Roman landscape painting. As you can see the focal point of this painting is not the people, but the large tree in the center.

Ancient Roman paintings were not always for personal enjoyment. There were some practical purposes for creating certain types of art. This genre of painting is sometimes labeled as “Triumphal Paintings”. These types of paintings often depicted the grandeur and power of Rome. There are very few of these types of paintings left, but from ancient descriptions we know that these paintings were used to symbolize the military might of Rome. Common themes included the depiction of the spoils of war like slaves, defeated soldiers and gold. Sometimes large public buildings were represented as large and magnificent. These buildings, arches and columns would have been funded by the wealth obtained through Rome’s military victories.

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