Roman Art

Roman art comes from Greek art. Romans duplicated many Greek art pieces, and created their own based on Greek art pieces. In that process, Romans developed many great stuff such as the busts, arches, domes, perspective in paintings, etc.

  • Temple of Fortuna Virilis, late 2nd century B.C. in Rome, Italy.


This temple looks like Greek temple so much! It has the Ionic columns! However, Romans did make some modifications to satisfy their need.

1. There’re less columns. Romans used engaged columns instead of real columns. Engaged columns actually don’t load bearing, they are just for decoration use.

2. There’s no relieves on the pediment or the frieze.

3. It’s smaller compared to most Greek temples, and slimmer.

4.It has a stair which suggests Roman temples have orientations! 5. It has 1 cella without separation.

Generally speaking, Romans took utility more serious than the aesthetic looking, so they built the temple with less cost. Numerous similar temples with Corinthian columns can be found in Italy. Personally I prefer a Greek temple than this one in PC games. Greek temple is more beautiful and easy to go in.

  • The Colosseum, 70-82 A.D. in Rome, Italy.

colosseum3 Plans on the Amphitheatre Collosseum the_colosseum_rome_italy-normal

This is a huge amphitheater to watch some bloody shows. “It stood 159 feet high, 616 feet 9 inches long, and 511 feet 11 inches wide, and could hold more than 50,000 spectators.[1]” Another new thing about Colosseum is: ARCH! Arch is an invention by Roman with using new technics such as concrete. Arch is great because it economizes bricks! Not to mention it looks nicer! The Colosseum has 4 layers of engaged columns. The first layer on the ground is consist of Doric columns, which is the most primitive and sturdy ones. Then the second layer is Ionic, the third layer is Corinthian. The Colosseum also has a nice balance between horizontal and vertical lines, it’s almost unnoticeable that the upper columns are thinner and the lower ones are thicker. Years have made it dilapidated and variegated, but it attracts me more than the original round building.

  • The Pantheon, early 2nd century in Rome, Italy.

Pantheon4 Pantheon5 Pantheon1 Pantheon2 Pantheon3 Pantheon5

This is an outstanding Roman temple. We can still fine some Greek stuff in the front gate, such as the pediment and the columns. In the back the incredible thing emerges: dome! Dome makes the temple grand, and makes people inside have a sacred feeling. There’re 2 reasons for that: 1.Dome allows a broad vacant space in the temple which makes people feel they are small. 2.In the past people used to believe that the sky is a dome–look at the hole on the top of the dome, isn’t it like a sun?

And here is a color reconstruction. The original exterior colors (white and golden yellow) look clean and devine.

  • A Roman Patrician with Busts of His Ancestors, late 1st century in Rome. Marble, lifesize.
4Hellenistic_Portrait Head from Delos 80 B.C.

Portrait Head from Delos 80 B.C.
The original piece is a whole body statue, this is only the head part of it.

Portrait of the Composer Modest Mussorgsky (1881)

Portrait of the Composer Modest Mussorgsky (1881), by Repin.

Roman statues have many differences from Greek ones. Figures wear clothes (most Greek statues are nude, only few of them wear clothes). There are busts instead of a whole body all the time. Romans liked to be depicted old since it’s the symbol of wiisdom. Not to mention the even more sophisticated skills on facial expression. Now I’ll focus on the face expression.  In Hellenistic Period, Greek artists focused on recording the face’s topography[2], while Roman artists pay more attention to express the personality of their clients. Look at the seriousness on that 3 faces. We can feel the stern Roman personality and the devotion to responsibilities, yet we can tell they have different temperament from each other. Even in recent centuries, portraitists were still aimed at express the character not the construction details of the sitter.

 Augustus of Primaporta. Roman copy in 20 A.D. from the original of 18 B.C.

IMG_1738sculpture_Augustus of Primaporta. Roman copy in 20 A.D. from original of 18 B.C.

3CLASSICAL_Doryphoros 450-440 B.C.

Doryphoros, Roman copy after an original of 450-440 B.C.


Hermes. Roman copy after an original of 320-310 B.C.

sculpture_Aulus Metellus

Aulus Metellus. Early 1st century B.C.

Shape:  Artist had taken many statues as references. Such as the body of Doryphoros, the little Cupid from Hermes, the action of Aulus Metellus. Generally speaking, Augustus has a perfect young body with an inspiring post. And his face features are made precisely which can be found in many other Augustus’ Statues. However, there is few topography detail, which differs from Hellenistic statues. Another big difference we can tell from Greek style is that he wears clothes.

Patterns: The small figures tell a story of winning a war. Artist made them together like a myth story which makes Augustus like a god.

Texture: There are texture of metal, leather, cloth on the statue, and they are very realistic. I like the combination of different texture, it’s fashionable.

[1] <Janson History of Art> P 180

[2]<Janson History of Art> P 190


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