the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
ROMAN ART. (1) Introductory: History of Recent Research. - The scientific study of ancient Roman art dates from a comparatively recent period. The great artists of the Renaissance, headed by Raphael and Michelangelo, showed no lack of appreciation for such models as the bas-reliefs of Trajan's Column; and it is sufficient to name Mantegna's " Triumph of Caesar " in order to recall the influence exerted by Roman historical sculpture upon their choice and treatment of monumental subjects; but their eyes were fixed on the Greek ideal, however imperfectly represented by monuments then accessible, and the supremacy of this standard became established beyond challenge. In the 18th century Winckelmann, the founder of the science of classical archaeology, directed the gaze of students and critics towards the glories of classical Greek art, which he divined behind the copies which filled the palaces and museums of modern Rome;' and the rediscovery of the extant remains of that art, which began early in the 19th century and still continues, has naturally absorbed the attention of the great majority of classical archaeologists. Nevertheless, towards the close of the 19th century, when the main lines of Greek artistic development had been firmly traced and interest was aroused in its later offshoots, critics were led to examine more closely the products of the Roman period. As early as 1874 Philippi had published a study of Roman triumphal reliefs; 2 but his intention was to show that they were derived from the paintings exhibited on the occasion of a triumph - a theory which can no longer be maintained - and not to determine their place in the history of art. In 1893, however, Alois Riegl published a series of essays on the history of ornament under the title of Stilfragen, in one of which he expressed the opinion that " there was in the antique art of the Roman Empire a development along the ascending line and not merely a decadence, as is universally believed." This thesis was taken up two years later by Franz Wickhoff in a preface contributed to the reproduction 111 facsimile of the illustrated MS. of Genesis in the imperial library at Vienna. Wickhoff contended that, whilst the art of the Augustan period was the culmination of that which had flourished under the Hellenistic monarchies, it was succeeded by an outburst of genuinely Roman artistic effort, which reached the height of its achievement in the reliefs and portrait-sculpture of the Flavian period, and gave birth in the 2nd century A.D. to the monuments of the " continuous " style of representation exemplified by the imperial columns. Wickhoff's work has become familiar to English readers through Mrs Strong's 1 The eleventh book of Winckelmann's Geschichte der Kunst, which deals with art under the Romans, contains notable proofs of the author's sureness of vision; for example, he divined the true date and affinities of the reliefs in the Villa Borghese, afterwards wrongly attributed to the time of
Claudius (see below).
2 " Vi p er die romischen Triumphalreliefs and ihre Stellung in der Kunstgeschichte " (Abhandlungen der seichs. Gesellsch. der Wissenschaften, vi., 1874).
Syria. .. XVI.
. IV. VI.
excellent translation, with copious illustrations, which appeared in 190o; in the following year Riegl published the first (which, by reason of his untimely death, remains the only) volume of his Late Roman Industrial Art in Austria and Hungary, in the opening chapters of which he endeavours to show that the later transformations of Roman art in the and and succeeding centuries after Christ continue to mark a definite advance. On the other hand, the originality of Roman art under the Empire was called in quesion by Josef Strzygowski, whose first important work on the subject, Orient oder Rom, appeared in 1901. Strzygowski holds that even in the imperial period, Rome was receptive rather than creative; that what is termed " Roman imperial art " is in reality the latest phase of Hellenistic art, whose chief centres are to be sought in Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt; and that this late Hellenistic art was itself gradually transformed by the invading spirit of the East into that Byzantine art which is half Greek and half Oriental, but wholly un-Roman. The problem thus stated will presently be discussed; in the meantime it is to be noted that the principal monuments which fall within our province have been at length rendered accessible to students by a series of adequate reproductions. In sculpture, the reliefs of Trajan's Column have been published by Cichorius, and those of the column of Marcus Aurelius by Petersen and others; in metalwork, the treasure of Bosco Reale has been reproduced in the Monuments Piot, and that of Hildesheim has been published by the authorities of the Berlin Museum; a series of reproductions, including all the important examples of Roman painting, is issued by the firm of Bruckmann under the supervision of Paul Herrmann; and the ancient paintings preserved in the Vatican library, which include some of the most famous examples of the art, were published and described by Dr Nogara in 1907. The discussion of the date to be assigned to the Trophy of Trajan at Adam-Klissi in the Dobruja, initiated by Adolf Furtwangler, has led to a closer study of the remains of Roman provincial art; and the discovery of the foundations of the Ara Pacis Augustae at Rome, together with additional remains of its sculptured decoration, has given an impulse to the study of Roman historical monuments. In this field important contributions to knowledge have been made by members of the British school at Rome, which will be noticed below. Finally, the history of Roman sculpture has for the first time been systematically and comprehensively treated by Mrs Strong in a handbook whose copious and well-chosen illustrations add greatly to its value. Thus the necessary equipment has been furnished for students of the problem presented by Roman art.
(2) National Roman Art; Landmarks of its History. - It is impossible to speak of a specifically Roman national art until we approach the latest period of Republican history. The germs of artistic endowment which existed in the Roman character were not developed until her political institutions were matured and her supremacy in the Mediterranean established. Up to that time such works of art as were produced in, or imported into, Rome were without exception Greek or Etruscan. Both in Etruria and in Latium Greek artists were commissioned to decorate the temples in which wood and terra-cotta took the place of the marble which Greece alone could afford to use. In 49 6 B.C., according to tradition, two Greek artists, Damophilos and Gorgasos, decorated the temple of Ceres, Liber and Libera with paintings and sculpture; when the temple was restored by Augustus their terra-cotta reliefs were carefully removed and framed.' But most of the early sculpture preserved in Rome doubtless belonged to the " Tuscan " school, whose works Pliny 2 quotes as evidence that there was an art of statuary native to Italy. It is true that Etruscan art was dependent for its motives and technique on Greek models; but in its portraiture - notably in the reclining figures which adorn Etruscan sarcophagi - we can trace the uncompromising realism and close attention to detail which are native to Italian H.N. xxxv. 154.
2 H. N. xxxiv. 34; cf. 43; and see Quint. xii. t o, I.
soil; the fragments of temple-sculptures which have been preserved are of less value, since, if not the work of Greeks, they are entirely Greek in conception. Roman portraiture undoubtedly continues the Etruscan tradition. It was a common custom in Etruria to decorate the urn containing the ashes of the dead with a lid in the form of the human head (such urns are called canopi ), and the same desire to record the features of the departed produced the waxen masks, or imagines, which were preserved in the houses of the Roman aristocracy. In architecture, too, Roman builders learnt much from their Etruscan neighbours, from whom they borrowed the characteristic form of their temples, and perhaps also the prominent use of the arch and vault. But the stream of Etruscan influence was met by a counter-current from the south, where the Greek colonies in Campania provided a natural channel by which Hellenic ideas reached the Latin race; and Roman architects soon abandoned the purely Etruscan type of temple for one which closely followed western Greek models. The conquests of the later Republic, however, brought them into more direct contact with the art of Greece proper. Beginning from 2 1 2 B.C., when Marcellus despoiled Syracuse of its principal statues, every victorious general adorned his triumph with masterpieces of Greek art, whether of sculpture or of painting, and, when Philhellenism became the ruling fashion at Rome, wealthy connoisseurs formed private collections drawn from the Greek provinces - Greek craftsmen, moreover, were employed in the decoration of the palaces of the Roman nobles and capitalists, which scarcely differed from those of the great Hellenistic cities. Except in portraiture, there was nothing characteristically Roman in the art which flourished in Rome in the time of Caesar and Cicero. But the remains of an altar, preserved partly at Munich and partly in the Louvre (Plate II. fig. 10), which is believed with good reason to have been set up by Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus shortly before 30 B.C., furnish an early example of the historical, or, to speak more exactly, commemorative art, to whose development the Empire gave so powerful an impulse. On the one face of the altar we find a Greek subject - the marriage of Poseidon and Amphitrite, - on the other a Roman sacrifice, the suovetaurilia, with other scenes from the life of the army. Augustus enlisted art, as he did literature, in the service of the new order. The remarkable technical dexterity which characterizes all forms of art in this period - silver plate and stucco decoration, as well as sculpture in the round or in relief - is purely Greek; but the form is filled with a new content. For Augustus determined to enlist art as well as literature in the service of the new regime, and this purpose was served not only by public monuments, such as the Ara Pacis Augustae (Plate II. figs. 11-13), but by the masterpieces of the silversmith's and gem-engraver's art (Plate VII. figs. 32-37). In the art, as in the literature of the Augustan age, classicism was the dominant note, and the naturalism so congenial to the Italian temperament was repressed, though never extinguished. The result of this was that under the Julio-Claudian dynasty academic tradition filled the place of inspiration, and Roman art failed to discover its vocation. A change came under the Flavian emperors. The painters who decorated with fairy landscapes the walls of Roman palaces, untrammelled by the conventions of official art, introduced into Rome a summary method of working, which has much in common with that of the modern impressionist school; and the sculptors of the Flavian period laid to heart the lesson taught by their successful " illusionism " (to borrow Wickhoff's term). We shall see that this is true of all forms of sculpture - historical sculpture, portraiture and decorative ornament; and we are entitled to rank this Flavian art as the, specific creation of imperial Rome, whatever may have been the precise nationality of the individual workers who adorned the new capital of the world. But this phase was of short duration; and the Roman spirit, which in harmony with that of Greece had produced such brilliant results, triumphed under Trajan and found its characteristic expression in the " epic in stone " with which his column is adorned. Wickhoff claims the " continuous " style in which the artist recounts the Dacian campaigns of Trajan as a creation of the Roman genius. We shall see that the term is not altogether a happy one; but there is good reason (as will be shown below) for the belief that the designer of the column, however profoundly influenced in his s;lection of motives and in his composition of individual scenes by Greek tradition, nevertheless worked out his main principles for himself. The realism of the Roman is shown in the minute rendering of details, which makes the reliefs a priceless source of information as to military antiquities. Historical art achieved no less a triumph in the great frieze from Trajan's Forum (Plate II. fig. 16), and in the panels of the arch at Benevento. Imposing as these works are, they suffer from the defects incidental to an art which endeavours to express too much. Overcharged with detail, and packed with meanings which reveal themselves only to patient study, they lack the spacious and reposeful character of Greek art; while, if we regard only their decorative function, we must admit that the excess of ornamental surface mars the effect of the buildings which they adorn. Along the path thus marked out, Roman art continued to progress; it is true that under the influence of Hadrian there was a brief renaissance of classicism which gave birth to the idealized type of Antinous, and to certain eclectic works which belong to Greek rather than to Roman art; but the historical reliefs which survive from the Antonine period, and more especially the sarcophagi, which reproduce scenes of Greek mythology with a close adherence to the letter but a fresh artistic spirit, show that the new leaven was at work. The main fact underlying the changes of the time was the loss of the true principles of plastic art, which even in Hellenistic times had become obscured by the introduction of pictorial methods into relief-sculpture. Colour, rather than form, now took the highest place in the gamut of artistic values. Painting, indeed, so far as our scanty knowledge goes, was not practised with conspicuous success; but the art of mosaic was carried to an extraordinary degree of technical perfection; and in strictly plastic art the choice of material was often determined by qualities of colour and transparency. For example, porphyry, basalt and alabaster of various hues were used by the sculptor in preference to white marble; and new conventions, such as the plastic rendering of the iris and pupil of the eye, were dictated by the ever-growing need for contrasts of light and shadow. This great revolution in taste has been traced, and doubtless with justice, to the permeation of the GraecoRoman world of the 2nd century by oriental ideas. The East has always preferred colour to form, and richness of ornament to significance of subject; and in art, as in religion, the West was now content to borrow. Roman official art, however, continued to produce the historical monuments which the achievements of the time demanded; but the principles of figure-composition were less fully grasped. The reliefs of the Aurelian Column form a less intelligible series than those of the Column of Trajan; and the panels of the Arch of Septimius Severus, with their bird's-eye perspective, have not inaptly been compared to Flemish tapestries. The extravagance and pomp of the dynasty founded by Septimius Severus filled Rome with such works as the art of the time could produce; and the busts of Caracalla show that in portraiture Roman craftsmen retained their cunning. Even during the anarchy which followed masterpieces such as the portrait of Philip the Arabian were produced; and during the reign of Gallienus (A D. 253-268), which saw the dismemberment of the Empire, there was a noteworthy outburst of artistic activity, whose products are seen in the naturalistic portraits of the emperor and the court.' But by the close of the 3rd century a further transformation had taken place, which coincided with the political revolution by which the absolute monarchy of Diocletian succeeded to the principate of Augustus. The portraits of Constantine and his house can no longer be termed naturalistic; they are 1 It is very remarkable that the coin-portraits of the Gallic usurper Postumus (A.D. 258-68) are executed in precisely the same style; the coins were struck either at Trier or at Cologne.
monumental, both in scale and in conception, and, above all, their rigid " frontality " carries us back at a bound to the primitive art of the East. The classical standard set by the Greek genius had ceased to govern art, although the fund of types which Hellenism had created still furnished subjects to the artist, or was made the vehicle by which the new ideas derived from Christianity were expressed. The Roman spirit was still strong enough to maintain that interest in the human form and the representation of dramatic events which was lacking in the Oriental; but in the monuments of the Constantinian period, such as the narrow friezes of the Arch of Constantine, we can see nothing but the work of artists who had lost touch with true plastic principles, in spite of the ingenious arguments adduced by Riegl. If we are to seek for signs of progress, it must be rather in the domain of architecture, which had never ceased to make advances in dealing with the spatial and constructive problems presented by the great building works of the Empire; it was now called upon to face a fresh task in providing Christians with a fit place for public worship. In the solution of this problem the architects of the 4th century showed a wonderful fertility of resource; but to describe their achievements would be to pass the confines of Roman art in the proper sense of the word.
(3) Individual Arts. (a) Architecture
This branch of the subject may be studied in the article Architecture, and illustrations will be found in other articles (Capital; Column; Order; Triumphal Arch; &c.). Architecture, regarded as a fine art, had been brought by the Greeks to the highest perfection of which it was capable under the limitations which they imposed upon themselves. The Greek temple appeals to the aesthetic sense by the simplicity and harmony of its proportions as well as by the rational correspondence between function and decoration in its several members. On these lines there was no room for progress. It is true that the Etruscans modified the type of the Greek temple and profoundly influenced Roman construction in this respect. The Etruscan temple was not approached on all sides by a low flight of steps, but raised on a high platform (podium ) with a staircase in the front; it was broad in proportion to. its depth, indeed, in many cases, square; and the temple itself (cella ) was faced by a deep portico, which often occupied half the platform. Moreover, as the use of marble for building was unknown in early Italy, wood was employed in construction and terra-cotta in decoration, and this change of material led to a wider spacing of the columns than was possible in Greece. But these alterations in the system of proportions were disadvantageous to aesthetic effect; and the Romans - though they soon ceased (under the influence of the western Greeks) to build temples of purely " Tuscan " type - preserved certain of their features, such as the high platform and deep portico (see Architecture, fig. 26). Nor can we regard as felicitous the design of certain Roman temples, such as that of Concord overlooking the Forum, and the supposed temple of Augustus (see RoME), which have a broad front (approached in the temple of Concord by a central portico) and narrow sides. The great temples of the Empire were (in general) inspired by Greek models, and need not therefore concern us; but we may notice Hadrian's peculiar design for the double temple of Venus and Rome, with twin cellae placed back to back. To the orders (see Order) of Greek architecture the Etruscans added the " Tuscan," a simplified Doric, of which an early example has been found at Pompeii, enclosed within the wall of the Casa del Fauno. 2 This column, which can scarcely be later than the 6th century B.C., has a smooth shaft with pronounced entasis, a heavy capital with a Scotia between abacus and echinus, and a plain circular base. To the Romans we owe the " Composite " order, so called because it contains features distinctive of the Corinthian and Ionic orders (see Order, fig. 14). It is really a variety of the Corinthian, with Ionic volutes inserted in the capital; the earliest known example of its use is seen in the Arch of Titus. The Romans, moreover, made frequent use of the figured capital, which, as Romische Mitteilungen (1902), pl. vii.
Photo, Alinari. FIG. I. - Domitius Ahenobarbus (So Called).
Photo, Anderson. FIG. 2. - Scipio Africanus (So Called).
Photo, Alinari. FIG. 3.-Unknown Woman.
Photo, Alinari. Photo, F. Bruckmann, Munich. Photo, Giraudon. FIG. 4.-Vespasian. Fig. 5.-Unknown Physician. Fig. 6.-Antinous.
Photo, Giraudon. FIG. 8.-Gallienus.
Photo, F. Bruckmann, Munich. FIG. 9.-Unknown Man (4th Century).
Photo F. Bruckmann, :11 uutcn. FIG. 7.-Unknown Roman.
[[Xxiii. 476. Augustus And The Royal Family]].
Figs. I I-13. - Portions Of The Deco By permission of the Italia By permission of the Italian Ministry of Public Instruction. FIG. 14. - Relief From The Arch Of Titus: Triumph Of Titus And The Spoils Of Jerusalem.
ILY. THE Earth Goddess And The Spirits Of Air And Water.
N OF THE ARA Pacis Augustae. stry of Public Instruction. scioni. By permission of the Italian Ministry of Public Instru,.u,,n. . - Pilaster. Fig. 16. - Relief From The Arch Of Constantine: Roman Cavalry Charge.
Photo, Anderson. Photo, Anderson. FIG. 17.-Caesar Augustus. Fig. 18.-Medallion, Arch Of Constantine.
Photo, Anderson. Constantine Distributing A Dole.
Photo, Anderson. the remains of Pompeii show, was an invention of the later Hellenistic age. Reduced copies of statues are found in the decoration of such capitals in the baths of Caracalla; the capitals with Victories and trophies in S. Lorenzo Fuori also belonged to a building of pagan times.
But the specific achievement of the Roman architect was the artistic application of a new set of principles - those which are expressed in the arch, the vault and the dome. The rectilinear buildings of the Greeks, with their direct vertical supports, gave place to vaulted structures in which lateral thrust was called into play. The aesthetic effect of the curves thus brought into prominence was well understood by the Romans; and they were the inventors of the decorative combination of the Greek orders with the arcade. More than this, the erection of vaults and domes of wide span, rendered possible by the use of concrete, gave to the Roman architect the opportunity of dealing artistically with internal spaces. A simple yet grandiose example of this may be found in the Pantheon of Hadrian. Circular buildings were a common feature in Italian architecture; 1 the temple of Vesta, which doubtless represented the primitive hut or dwelling of the king, always had this form, and the theme was repeated with many variations, from the well-known circular temple in the Forum Boarium to the fantastic structure with broken outlines at Baalbek. But in the Pantheon the artist lays stress, not on the exterior, which possesses no special effect, but on the interior, whose proportions are carefully determined and give a most impressive result. The same may be said of the great halls of the Imperial Thermae, and as time went on more elaborate architectural schemes were devised to meet the requirements of the Christian Church.
It was pointed out above that in the late Republican period specifically Roman art was practically confined to portraiture. Of this we have many fine examples, such as the so-called Domitius Ahenobarbus of the Braccio Nuovo (Plate I. fig. I); and there is a series of busts which possess a special interest in that some of them have been claimed as portraits of Scipio Africanus. The example in the Museo Capitolino (Plate I. fig. 2), with a modern inscription, though executed in the and century A.D., is clearly copied from a famous Republican original. The baldness of the head has been thought to be derived from the technique of the waxen imagines, in which the hair was painted; the presence of a scar above the temple, which has given rise to various theories, merely betokens the unsparing realism of the Republican artist. In monumental sculpture our earliest datable example is the altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus, already referred to (Plate II. fig. io). The ceremonial scene of the suovetaurilia fills the centre of the composition; to the left we see the dismissal of veterans for whom diplomata are being prepared; to the right the troops on active service, both horse and foot, are represented. The artist was clearly inspired by statuary and other types of earlier date, which are grouped in a somewhat loose composition. Augustan art is adequately represented by the Prima Porta statue of the emperor, discovered in 1863 in the Villa of Livia and now in the Braccio Nuovo (Plate III. fig. 17). The attitude of the figure is that of an imperator addressing his army; but there is a characteristic blending of the real with the ideal, for the emperor is not only bareheaded but barefoot, and beside him is a tiny cupid riding on a dolphin, which indicates the descent of the Julian house from Venus. We note, too, how the Roman artist - or the Greek artist interpreting the wishes of the Roman - is scarcely more concerned for the total effect of his work than for the significant details of the decoration. The chasings of the corselet display, as a central subject, the restoration by the Parthian in 20 B.C. of the standards taken from Crassus at Carrhae (53 B.C.). Not content with this, the artist has added a group of personifications indicating sunrise - Sol, Caelus, Aurora and the goddess of the morning dew - as well as Apollo, Diana, Mars and the earth goddess, and two figures symbolical of the western provinces, Gaul and Spain. It is also to be 1 See Altmann, Die italischen Rundbauten (1906).
noted that the statue shows abundant traces of its original polychrome tints - brown, yellow, blue, red and pink. It must have been executed later - probably not much later - than 13 B.C., when Augustus returned from the West, and therefore belongs to the same period as the Ara Pacis Augustae, dedicated January 30, 9 B.C. This altar stood in a walled enclosure with two entrances, measuring 112 by 102 metres. The walls, with their plinth, were about 6 metres in height, and were decorated internally with a frieze of garlands and bucrania, and externally with two bands of relief, the lower consisting of conventional scrolls of acanthus varied with other floral motives, and teeming with bird and insect life, the upper showing processions (Plate II. fig. II) passing from east to west. The most interesting of these is that on the south wall, which included Augustus himself, the flamines and the imperial family. 2 On the western face, towards which the processions are directed, we find a scene of sacrifice, with' a landscape background, in which the ideal figures of senate and people appear. To the east front (apparently) belongs the beautiful group of the earth goddess (Tellus) and the spirits of air and water (Plate II. fig. 13). It is impossible to deny the incongruity of this composition with the realistic procession which adjoins it, and we can only suppose that the artist borrowed the group from some Hellenistic precursor and used it in that blend of the real and ideal which, as we saw, was the keynote of the new imperial art.
The lack of public monuments which can be assigned to the Julio-Claudian period is only in part supplied by those of private significance; the most important of these are the sepulchral cippi and other altars, decorated sometimes with figure-subjects, but largely with plant and animal forms rendered with the utmost naturalism. The altar with planeleaves in the Museo Belle Terme (fig. 38), though perhaps not Redrawn from a photo by Anderson.
FIG. 38. - Altar with Plane-leaves.
later than Augustus, is typical of the spirit in which vegetable forms were treated under the first dynasty. We may take a female portrait discovered in a 1st-century house on the right bank of the Tiber (Plate I. fig. 3) as an example of the portraiture of this period, which shows great technical merit but a touch of conventionality.
The sculpture of the Flavian period finds its best-known example in the reliefs of the Arch of Titus. This has but a single archway; the piers had no sculptured decoration, and the narrow frieze which surmounts the architrave is perfunctorily executed. But the long panels on either side of the passage, which represent the triumph of Titus and the spoils of Jerusalem, have been deemed (by Wickhoff) worthy of a place in the history of art beside the masterpieces of Velazquez - the " Hilanderas " and the " Surrender of Breda "; and 2 Some doubt has recently been cast on the identification of the emperor and his family.
f' though we cannot subscribe to his view that the artist calculated the effect of natural illumination upon the relief, it remains true that they are eminently pictorial compositions in respect of their depth of focus, yet without sacrifice of plastic effect (Plate II. fig. 14). So far as bas-relief is concerned, the problem of representing form in open space is here solved. Equally admirable in technique, though of less historical importance, are the circular medallions (tondi ) which now adorn the Arch of Constantine, but originally belonged (as the present writer has shown)' to a monument of the Flavian period, perhaps the " temple of the Flavian house " erected by Domitian. The one shown (Plate III. fig. 18) is remarkable in that the head of the emperor has been replaced by a portrait, not of Constantine, but (in all probability) of Claudius Gothicus (A.D. 268-70), who was the first to divert these sculptures from their original destination.
Flavian portraits, 2 of which two are here figured, - a bust of Vespasian in the Museo delle Terme (Plate I. fig. 4) and a bust, now in the Lateran, found in the tomb of the Haterii, which, as is shown by the snake, represents a physician (Plate I. fig. 5), - must rank as the masterpieces of Roman art. Their extraordinarily lifelike character is due to the fact that the artist, without accumulating unnecessary detail, has contrived to catch the characteristic expression of his subject, and to render it with the utmost technical virtuosity. These portraits differ from the works of the Greek masters, who always subordinated the individual to the type, and therefore gave a less complete impression of reality than the Roman artists.
The same tendency has been noted in ornamental work which may be dated to the Flavian period. Wickhoff selected a pilaster from the monument of the Haterii (Plate II. fig. 15) upon which a column entwined with roses is carved. The flowers are not in fact represented with precise fidelity to nature, but the illusion of reality is no less great than in more accurately worked examples.
Roman sculpture soon passed the zenith of its achievement. We are not able to assign any historical monuments to the earlier years of Trajan's reign, but the portraits of the emperor betray a certain hardness of touch which makes them less interesting than those of the Flavian period. To the latter part of the reign belong a number of monuments which represent Trajanic art at its best. First and foremost come the reliefs, colossal in scale, which appear to have decorated the walls of Trajan's Forum. Four slabs were removed by Constantine's order and used to adorn the central passage and the shorter sides of the attic of his arch. The first of these (Plate II. fig. 16) shows the victorious charge of the Roman cavalry, with the emperor at its head, against their Dacian enemies. Other fragments of this frieze are extant in the Louvre,' and a much-restored relief, walled up in the garden of the Villa Medici, shows a Dacian on horseback swimming the Danube with Trajan's Bridge in the background. The composition of the battle-scene is very fine, and the heads of the Dacians are full of character; but, although details of armour, &c., are carefully and accurately reproduced, we see clear signs of technical decadence, both in the fact that the human eye is in many cases represented as though in full face on heads which are shown in profile, and also in the naïve attempt to render several files of troops in perspective by means of superposed rows of heads. 4 The reliefs of the spiral 1 Papers of the British School at Rome, vol. iii. pp. 229 ff. Sieveking ( Reim. Mitth. (1907) pp. 345 ff.) believes that four of the medallions only belong to the Flavian period and the rest to Hadrian's reign.
2 On this subject see Mr Crowfoot's paper in Journal of Hellenic Studies, xx. (1900) pp. 31 ff. A list of examples is given by Mr Wace in Papers of the British School at Rome, vol. iii. pp. 290 ff.
a Mr Wace has recently identified the reliefs which show an emperor sacrificing before the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus as a part of the frieze (Papers of the British School at Rome, iv. pp. 229 ff.).
4 These features make it clear that the reliefs in the Villa Borghese, formerly supposed to belong to an arch of Claudius, are Trajanic; see Papers of the British School at Rome, iii. pp. 225 ff. (Stuart Jones).
column in the Basilica Ulpia tell the same tale. The designer borrowed certain motives from Hellenistic art; e.g. we find the suicide of the Dacian king Decebalus represented in precisely the same way as that of a Gallic chief on the wellknown sarcophagus in the Capitoline Museum representing a battle between Greeks and Gauls; again, the symmetry of the scene in which the fall of Sarmizegetusa (the Dacian capital) is depicted recalls that of Greek monuments - particularly the painting of the fall of Troy by Polygnotus, described by Pausanias at Delphi. But the loving care with which the arms and accoutrements of the Roman troops - both regular and irregular - are rendered s betrays the nationality of the artist; and his technical deficiencies, especially in the matter of perspective, point in the same direction. It seems probable, moreover, that the artistic conception of a column ornamented with a band of relief was new, and that the designer had to find his own solution for the problem. We find, in fact, that he tells his story in more than one way: (a) Considerable portions of the narrative, e.g. Trajan's march in the opening campaign, consist in a series of isolated and successive scenes; the divisions are usually marked by some conventional means, such as the insertion of a tree, or a change of direction in the action. ( b ) At other times the scenes unfold themselves against a continuous background, and merge almost insensibly into those which succeed them; to this form of narrative the term " continuous style," brought into use by Wickhoff, more properly applies. (c) The direct progress of the narrative is sometimes broken by passages which can only be called " panoramic "; the great composition showing the siege and fall of Sarmizegetusa falls under this head, and the " continuous " narration of Trajan's journey at the outset of the second war is followed by an extensive panorama illustrating the operations in Moesia in A.D. 105.
The reliefs (as already indicated) tell the story of both of Trajan's wars with the Dacians, a formal division between the two narratives being made by a figure of Victory setting up a trophy; and the design of the second series shows a decided advance in artistic and dramatic effect on that of the first. Clearly the artist learnt the laws of composition applicable to his problem in the course of his work.
Before leaving the Trajanic period a word must be said as to the arch erected at Benevento (see Triumphal Arch, fig. 2), from which point a new road - the Via Trajana - ran to Brundisium. The inscription on this arch bears the date A.D. 114, but the prominence given to Hadrian has led to the supposition that the reliefs were executed after his accession. We have already noted that the use of relief as ornament is here carried to excess in the artist's desire to present a summary of Trajan's achievements at home and abroad. 6 The arrangement of the panels is calculated and significant. On the side which faces the town of Benevento the subjects have reference to Trajan's work in Rome. On the attic we see, to the left, a group of gods with the Capitoline triad - Jupiter, Juno and Minerva - in the foreground; to the right, Trajan welcomed at the entrance to the Capitol by the goddess Roma, the penates and the consuls. He is accompanied by Hadrian, who is designated by the gesture of Roma as the emperor's successor. The two lowest panels likewise form a single picture. To the right Trajan appears at the entrance of the Forum, where he is welcomed by the praefectus urbi; to the left, with the Curia as background, we see the representatives of senate, knights and people. The central panels symbolize the military and civil aspects of Trajan's government - veterans to left, merchants to right, are the recipients of imperial favour. On the other 5 Thus Cichorius, in his publication of the reliefs, has been able to identify several of the corps which took part in the war; e.g. the " cohorts of Roman citizens " are distinguished from the barbarian auxiliaries by the national emblems on their shields.
6 The significance of these reliefs was first demonstrated by Domaszewski (Jahreshefte des iisterreichischen archaologischen Instituts, ii. 18 99, pp. 1 73 ff.); a full account will be found in Mrs Strong's Roman Sculpture, ch. 9.
face of the arch we have a series of panels relating to Trajan's work in the provinces. On the attic the gods of the Danube provinces appear to the left, the submission of Mesopotamia on the right; the lowest panels represent negotiations with Germans (left) and Parthians (right); in the centre (as on the other face) we have a military scene (recruiting in the provinces) to left, balancing the foundation of colonies and growth of the proles Romana on the right. As the above description will show, this arch is, in respect of its significance, the most important monument of Roman historical art. Technically, the reliefs fall somewhat short of the best work of the Flavian period - the long panels of the archway, which represent a sacrifice offered by Trajan and his benefactions to the municipia of Italy, have not the verve of those from the Arch of Titus, but are at least as fine as the works executed for Trajan's Forum.
With the accession of Hadrian - the " Greekling," as he was called by his contemporaries - a short-lived renaissance of classicism set in. The eclectic modifications of Greek statuary types which it called forth do not fall within our province; but it should be noticed that in portraiture the most important work of this period was the idealized type of Antinous, here represented by a famous example (Plate I. fig. 6) in the Louvre, which invests the favourite of Hadrian with a divinity expressed in the terms of Hellenic art as well as a pathos which belongs to his own time. 1 The historical monuments of this and the following reign are few in number, and lack the pregnancy of meaning and vigour of execution which distinguish those of the Trajanic period; mention may be made of three reliefs in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of which represents the apotheosis of an empress, and of the panels in the Palazzo Rondinini shown by the analogy of a medallion of Antoninus Pius to belong to his time. This is also the place to take note of the ideal figures symbolical of the subject peoples of the Empire. Under Trajan Roman sculptors had produced the fine statues of Dacian captives which now adorn the Arch of Constantine; to the Hadrianic period belong the idealized figures of provinces, classical in pose and motive, several of which are in the Palazzo de Conservatori.2 We pass on, to the period of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, in which Roman art underwent a further transformation. The earliest monument of the time which calls for our attention is the base of the column (now destroyed) erected in honour of Antoninus Pius. Two of its faces are here shown (Plate IV. figs. 21 and 22), and the contrast is remarkable between the classicistic representation of the apotheosis of Antoninus and Faustina, witnessed by the ideal figures of Rome and the Campus Martius (holding an obelisk), and the realistic treatment of the decursio, a ceremony performed by detachments of the praetorian guard on horse and foot. We note the endeavour of the Roman sculptor to express more than his medium will allow, and his inadequate grasp of the laws of proportion and perspective. Discarding the classical standard and its conventions, the artist disposes his figures like a child's toys, and, when confronted with the problem of the background, waves it aside and reduces the indication of the place of action to a few projecting ledges on which his puppets are supported. The reliefs of the Column of Marcus Aurelius suffer by comparison with those of Trajan's Column. The story which the designer had to tell was doubtless less definite in outline; we cannot trace, as in the former instance, the march of events towards a dramatic climax, and there is some reason to think that, although the two bands of relief, separated (as on Trajan's Column) by a figure of Victory, correspond generally with the " Germanic " and " Sarmatic " wars of Marcus down to A.D. 175, the narrative is not strictly chronological; thus the fall of rain ascribed by Christian tradition to the prayers of the " Thundering " Legion 1 It is in the portraits of the Hadrianic period that we first meet with the plastic rendering (in marble) of the iris and pupil of the eye; on the significance of this convention see above.
a On these see Lucas's article in Jahrb. des k. deutschen arch. Instituts (1900), pp. i ff., and Mrs Strong, Roman Sculpture, pp. 243 ff.
(Plate IV. fig. 2 4) is represented at a very early stage, whereas our historians place it towards the close of the war. The figures are smaller and at the same time more crowded than those upon Trajan's Column, and the landscape is less intelligently rendered. The type of the rain-god, which is without doubt the creation of the Roman sculptor, is boldly conceived but scarcely artistic. Still the reliefs show that the designers of the time were making vigorous efforts to think for themselves, and for this reason possess a higher value than the more conventional panels now distributed between the attic of the Arch of Constantine and the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which seem to have decorated a triumphal arch set up in or after A.D. 1 7 6.3 The portraiture of the time also shows the invasion of new principles. Even before the reign of Marcus we find a tendency to emphasize the contrast between hair and flesh, the face often showing signs of high polish. In the latter half of the 2nd century the contrast is heightened by a new method of treating the hair, which is rendered as a mass of curls deeply undercut and honeycombed with drill-holes; a fine example is the Commodus of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The aim of the sculptor is to obtain an ornamental effect by the violent contrast of light and dark - an adaptation for the purposes of plastic art of the chiaroscuro which more properly belongs to painting. This tendency may be seen at work in all branches of sculpture. The sarcophagi of the Antonine and later periods, with their crowded compositions and deep shadows, have the same pictorial effect; and in pure ornament the vivid illusionism of Flavian art disappears, and, though plant-forms are lavishly used - from the time of Trajan onwards we note a growing distaste for pure outlines, which are hidden beneath all-pervading acanthus foliage the interest of the sculptor comes to lie more and more in intricacy of pattern, produced by the complementary effect of lights and shadows. An instance of this may he found in a pilaster now in the Lateran Museum (fig. 39), which Wickhoff justly contrasts with the rose-pillar from the monument of the Haterii. It is all-important to remember that (as Strzygowski has pointed out) 4 it is not true shadow which is contrasted with the high lights in later Roman ornament; if so, the plastic effect of the free members would be heightened, whereas the reverse is actually the case, for even the figures on sarcophagi, worked in the round though they be, do not stand out from the back ground - which indeed is practically abolished - but (Drawn from photo, Moscioni.) seem rather to form eleFIG. 39. - Pilaster with Oak Leaf ments in a pattern. The Ornament.
reason is that pure darkness is set off against the high lights, and the whole surface being thus broken up, there remains no impression of depth.
Under Septimius Severus and his successors, Roman art drifts steadily in its new direction. The reliefs of his arch at the entrance to the Forum represent the emperor's campaigns in the East in a compromise between bird's-eye perspective and the " continuous " style which cannot be called successful; 3 This series of panels is discussed in Papers of the British School at Rome, vol. iii. p. 251 ff.
Jahrbuch der preussischen Kunstsammlungen (1904), p. 271.
a better example of the art of this period is to be seen in the relief (Plate IV. fig. 20) now in the Palazzo Sacchetti, recently published by Mr A. J. B. Wace,' which probably represents the presentation of Caracalla to the senate as the destined successor of his father. The squat figures of the senators, their grouping, which, though not lacking in naturalism and a certain effectiveness, is not in its main lines aesthetic, and the lavish use of deeply drilled ornament, are features which leave no doubt as to the period to which this work should be assigned. Rome, however, could still boast a school of portrait-sculptors, whose work was of no ordinary merit. The bronze statue of Septimius Severus, which passed into the Somzee collection, has been pronounced by Furtwangler to be of .much earlier date, except for the head of the emperor, and we cannot therefore feel confidence in using it as a measure of the artistic achievements of Severus's reign; but the busts of Caracalla, which represent the tyrant in his later years, are masterly both in conception and in execution.
In the second quarter of the 3rd century A.D., when the Empire was torn by internal strife, threatened in its very existence by the inroads of barbarism, and hastening towards economic ruin, art could no longer flourish, and monuments of sculpture become scarce, if we except portraits and sarcophagi. The busts of this period are easily distinguished by the treatment of the hair and beard, which seem to have been closely clipped, and are indicated by a multitude of fine chisel strokes on a roughened surface. But, rough as these technical methods may seem, the artists of the time used them with wonderful effect, and the portraits of the emperor Philip (A. D. 244-49) in the Braccio Nuovo, and an unknown Roman in the Capitoline Museum (Plate I. fig. 7), are hardly to be surpassed in their delineation of craft and cruelty. Amongst the sarcophagi of the 3rd century we select, in preference to those adorned with scenes of Greek mythology, the fine example in the Museo delle Terme (formerly in the Ludovisi collection) decorated with a melee of Romans and Orientals (Plate IV. fig. 23); the principal figure - whose portrait is also to be seen in the Capitoline Museum - has been identified by Mr A. H. S. Yeames as C. Furius Sabinius Aquila Timesitheus, the minister and father-in-law of Gordian III. (d. A.D. 244). Even after the middle of the century, when the Empire was for a time dismembered, portrait-sculpture put forth fresh evidences of life and vigour. Gallienus, who was himself a dilettante and doubtless largely endowed with personal vanity, seems to have called into being a naturalistic school of sculptors, who harked back to the models of the later Antonine period, so that it is not always easy to distinguish the busts of his time from those of a much earlier date. The Louvre bust of the emperor (Plate I. fig. 8) will serve as a type of these works. But this singular renaissance was as short-lived as the eclectic revival of classicism under Hadrian. It is remarkable that the portrait of Gallienus is the last which can be identified by truly individual traits. The period of storm and stress which followed his death has left little or no monumental material for the historian of sculpture; and when the curtain again rises on the art of the new monarchy founded by Diocletian and perfected by Constantine, we seem to move in a new world. The East has triumphed over the West. Just as in Egyptian and, speaking generally, in all oriental art, before the revelation of true plastic principles, which we owe to the Greek genius, the law of " frontality " was universally operative, i.e. the pose of sculptured figures was rigidly symmetrical and without lateral curvature, so the portraits of Constantine and his successors are discerned at a glance by their stiff pose and fixed and stony stare. The fact is that the secret of organic structure has been lost; the bust (or statue) is no longer a true portrait, a block of marble made to pulsate with the life of the subject represented, but a monument. It was thus that the absolute monarchs of the Empire, before whom their subjects prostrated themselves in mute adoration, preferred to 1 Papers of the British School at Rome, iv. pl. xxxiv., from which fig. 15 is taken.
be portrayed; and we cannot help recalling Ammianus's description 2 of the entry of Constantius II. into Rome (A.D. 35 6). The emperor rode in a golden chariot, turning his head neither to the right nor to the left, but gazing impassively before him " tanquam figmentum hominis." The description fits such a portrait as that of an unknown personage of the 4th century in the Capitoline Museum (Plate I. fig. 9), which has found a panegyrist in Riegl. It remains to note that the narrow bands of relief on the Arch of Constantine, some of which probably date from the reign of Diocletian,' partake of the same monumental character as the single statues of the time. Where the nature of the subject permits, as in the case of the reliefs here represented (Plate III. fig. 19), the frontality of the central figure, and the strict symmetry of the grouping, which imparts an almost geometrical regularity to the main lines of the composition, are calculated for architectonic rather than for plastic effect. The breath of organic life has ceased to inspire the marble.
We have confined ourselves in the above section to tracing the course of development in what we may call official Roman sculpture, represented in the main, as is natural, by the monuments of the capital. The products of local schools cannot here be treated in detail. The difficult problems which they raise are best illustrated by the case of " Trajan's trophy " at Adam-Klissi in the Dobruja. Although the very name of the monument might seem to furnish sufficient evidence of its date, the late Professor Furtwangler stoutly maintained that Trajan did but restore a monument dating from 29 B.C.4 He called attention to the uniformity in style of the gravemonuments of soldiers from north Italy, serving in the legions of the Rhine and Danube; these date from the early imperial period, and represent (according to Furtwangler) a traditional " legionary style." It may be admitted that they are eminently Italian in their hard realistic character; but the tradition was not extinct in the Trajanic period, so that the analogy between these monuments and its rudely carved figures is inconclusive, and the ornament of the trophy, which is far from being homogeneous, contains, as Studniczka 5 has observed, oriental elements which could not possibly be found in sculpture of the 1st century B.C. Local tradition may also be traced, e.g. in southern France, where the Hellenic influence which penetrated by way of Massilia was still strongly felt under the Julio-Claudian dynasty, as the sculptures of the tomb of the Julii at St Remy and the triumphal arches of Orange and Carpentras suffice to prove. Gallo-Roman art, on the other hand, has a physiognomy of its own, whose outlines have been traced by M. Salomon Reinach ( Antiquites nationales; bronzes figures de la Gaule romaine, Introduction). In the Rhineland we find, at a later period, a singular school of realistic sculptors at work; the museum at Trier contains a number of their grave-monuments decorated with scenes of daily life. 6 Nor must we omit to mention the Palmyrene sculptors of the 3rd century A.D., whose portrait-statues give us the clue to the origin of the " frontal " style of the Constantinian period?
c. Painting and Mosaic
The arts whose proper medium is colour enjoyed a popularity with the ancients and with the Romans, no less than with the Greeks, at least as great as that of sculpture; we need go no further for evidence of this than the statement of Pliny a that Julius Caesar paid eighty talents (20,000) for the " Ajax and Medea " of Timomachus of Byzantium, which he placed in his newly built forum. But we are in a difficult position when we try 2 Amm. Marc. xvi. 10.10.
See Mr Wace's article in Papers of the British School at Rome, iv. pp. 270 ff.
4 His view is accepted by Mrs Strong (Roman Sculpture, p. 99).
5 " Tropaeum Trajani " (Abhandlungen der sdchs. Gesellsch. der Wissenschaften, xxii., pp. 88 ff.).
6 Hettner, Illustrierter Fiihrer durch das National Museum zu Trier (1903), pp. 2 ff.
7 Some fine examples are in the Jacobsen collection; see ArndtBruckmann, Griechische and romische Portraits, pls. 59, 60. H.N. xxxv. 136.
By permission of the British School Rome. FIG. 20. - Presentation Of Caracalla To The Senate.
Photo, Moscioni. FIG. 21. - Base Of Column Of Antoninus.
Photo,Moscioni. FIG. 22. - Base Of Column Of Antoninus.
By permission the Italian Minisby Public Instruction. FIG. 2 3 .-Melee Of Romans And Orientals, From A Sarcophagus.
Photo, Anucraon. FIG. 24. - Detail Of Tiie Column Of Antoninus.