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date: 05 December 2023

painting, Romanlocked

painting, Romanlocked

  • Roger Ling


In late republican times Roman collectors avidly acquired Greek ‘old master’ pictures (see art, ancient attitudes to), and contemporary painters provided new works for the market; Greek artists such as Metrodorus of Athens in the 2nd cent. bce and Iaia of Cyzicus in the 1st cent. bce were brought to, or migrated to, Rome to meet the demand. Pictures commemorating military campaigns were carried in triumphs (see triumph). But the advent of the empire saw a gradual shift of interest from portable panels to wall-paintings, a trend lamented by *Pliny (1) (HN 35. 118).Wall-painting on plaster is attested in tombs at Rome from an early date (a well-known fragment from the *Esquiline shows historical episodes from the Samnite wars; see samnium) and became increasingly normal in private houses. At *Pompeii and *Herculaneum virtually every residence eventually contained extensive paintings, ranging from simple schemes in minor rooms to rich, polychrome schemes in important rooms. The evidence from the Vesuvius region, together with contemporary material from Rome (including remains in *Augustus' properties on the *Palatine and Nero's *Domus Aurea), enable us to follow changing fashions up to the late 1st cent.


  • Roman Material Culture

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