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Styles & Periods
Roman Art

Roman civilization greatly admired the art and architecture of the Greeks, and many of the subjects, writings and production methods were based on those learned from Greeks. The masters of Greek art, including Phidias, Praxiteles and Lysippus were worshipped as masters by the Romans, while individual Roman artists remain virtually unknown. This disparity is not necessarily due to a lack of skill among Roman artists but more likely tied to the Roman appetite for art as decoration and status symbol. Roman artists rarely signed their work, and due to the heavy appropriation from preexisting works, were seen more as tradesmen than artists. The Roman Empire did not only borrow from the Greeks, but also informed their work with Egyptian, Etruscan, and Italic aesthetics. The eclectic nature of Roman art is, in fact, one of its most distinctive qualities. Roman architecture was influenced by the magnitude of the state, and its need for efficiency gave way to a new model that departed from that of Greece. It is through architecture that the Romans made their ineffaceable mark on the world of art. The development of concrete and the mastery of the vault were basic building blocks for Roman structures, such as aqueducts, the Coliseum and Pantheon. Portraits of the members of the Republic appeared carved in stone. There was an elevation of the emperors into superhuman beings in these works, and their power and control were translated into near-divine icons. Finally, Romans created ethereal murals. The paintings of Pompeii and Prima Porta are delicate and exquisite examples of Roman mural painting.


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