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Ancient Rome The High Empire Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius

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1 Ancient Rome The High Empire Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius
Rome, Italy 175 CE The High Empire This larger-than-life guilded bronze equestrian statue was selected by Pope Paul III as the center piece for Michelangelo’s new design. Most ancient bronze statues were melted down for their metal value during the Middle Ages, but this one happened to have survived. Marcus possesses a superhuman grandeur and is much larger than any normal human would be in relation to his horse. He stretches out his right arm in a gesture that is both a greeting and an offer of clemency (an act that bestows or shows mercy toward another person over whom somebody has ultimate power) Some speculate that an enemy once cowered beneath the horse’s raised right foreleg begging Marcus for mercy. The statue conveys the awesome power of the godlike Roman emperor as ruler of the whole world.

2 Ancient Rome High Empire Portrait of Marcus Aurelius Rome, Italy
ca. CE High Empire This is a detail of a relief from a lost arch The face of the Emperor does not portray the supreme confidence that is usually depicted A drill was used to render the emperors long hair and beard and even to accentuate the pupils of his eyes (created a pattern of light and dark across the face) The details were added with a chisel- carved lines on on his forehead and deep ridges running from his nostrils to his mouth Portraits of aged emperors were common but this was one of the first where the emperor appears weary, saddened and worried. The strain of constant warfare and ruling an empire is shown in the emperors face This new type of imperial depictions in relief sculpture marks the end of the classical age and the beginning of the Greco-Roman age.

3 Ancient Rome The High Empire Sarcophagus with the myth of Orestes
CE The High Empire Greek mythology was one of the most popular subjects for the decoration of these sarcophagi. This is the story of the tragic Greek hero Orestes. It uses the same basic continuous-narrative composition. Orestes appears several times: slaying his mother Clytaemnestra and her lover Aegisthus to avenge their murder of his father Agamemnon. The repetition of sarcophagus compositions indicates that sculptors has access to pattern books. This was a major industry during the High and Late Empire.

4 Ancient Rome The High Empire
Asiatic sarcophagus with kline portrait of a woman Melfi, Italy CE The High Empire This sarcophagus from Melfi, in southern Italy was originally manufactured in Asia Minor. The decoration on the side of the sarcophagus is strictly Asiatic because it depicts images of Greek gods and heroes in architectural frames. The deceased, a woman, reclines on a kline, a bed. By her side are her faithful little dog and Cupid, the child god of love. Cupid holds a down turned torch, a reference to the death of a woman whose beauty rivaled that of his mother, Venus, who appears in one of the niches on the back of the sarcophagus.

5 Ancient Rome The High Empire Mummy portrait of a man Faiyum, Egypt
CE The High Empire Egyptians buried their dead in mummy cases. In Roman times, however, painted portraits on wood replaced the traditional stylized portrait masks. The man in this mummy painting, copying Marcus Aurelius, has long curly hair and a full beard. These paintings were probably painted when the subjects were still alive. They were used to trace the evolution of portrait painting after Mount Vesuvius erupted. Some aspects to note are the refined use of the brush and the spatula, soft and delicate modeling, and sensitive portrayal of the calm demeanor of its thoughtful subject.

6 Ancient Rome The Late Empire
Painted portrait of Septimius Severus and his family CE 200 The Late Empire The Severan family portrait is special for two reasons beyond its mere survival. The emperor’s hair is tinged with gray, suggesting that his marble portraits also may have revealed his advancing age in this way. Also noticed in the portrait, the face of the emperor’s youngest son, Geta, was erased. When Caracalla succeeded his father as emperor, he had his brother murdered and his memory damned. The painted tondo, circular format, portrait is an eloquent testimony to that damnatio memoriae and to the long arm of Roman authority. The concept of damnatio memoriae is also evident in Ancient Egypt, when Thutmose III had all rememberances of Hatshepsut destroyed after her death.

7 Ancient Rome The Late Empire
Painted portrait of Septimius Severus and his family CE 200 The Late Empire When civil conflict following Commodus’s death ended, an African general named Septimius Severus was master of the Roman world. The new emperor proclaimed himself as Marcus Aurelius’s son. For this reason, he is depicted with long hair and the Antonine “trademark” beard. Many prints of his wife, Julia Domna, the daughter of a Syrian priest, and their two sons, Caracalla and Geta, also exist. Only one print of the entire family exists. It is painted in tempera, or pigments in egg yolk, on wood. This is the only surviving painted likeness of any Roman emperor. The perishable nature explains the almost total loss of these paintings.

8 Ancient Rome The Late Empire Portrait of Caracalla, ca. CE 211-217.
• Typical sculpture of the ruthless emperor Caracalla • The sculptor suggested the texture of his short hair and cropped close beard. • Caracalla’s brow is knotted, and he abruptly turns his head over his left shoulder, as if he suspects danger from behind. •He was killed by an assassin’s dagger in the sixth year of his ruling.

9 Ancient Rome The Late Empire
Chariot procession of Septimius Severus, relief from the Arch of Septimius Severus CE 203 The Late Empire • Gives no sense of rushing motion, rather stately slowness. • The emperor and his sons are detached from the chariot and are facing the viewer. • The figures in the second row have no connection with the ground and are elevated above the heads of those in the first row, to be seen more clearly.

10 Ancient Rome The Late Empire
Heroic portrait of Trebonianus Gallus, Rome, Italy, CE The Late Empire Trebonianus Gallus was the successor of Decius. He was a short lived emperor. A larger than life size bronze portrait that depicts him in heroic nudity. He doesnt have the perfect athletic physique he has the physique of a wrestler. Massive legs and swollen trunk. This very big heavyset body dwarfs his head. This is an image of brute strength. In the era of the soldier emperors.

11 Ancient Rome The Late Empire
Battle of Romans and barbarians, Rome,Italy, CE The Late Empire Burying people became so widespread during the 3rd Century, Even the Imperial Family started practicing it instead of cremation. This piece is an unusually large sarcophagus that was discovered in 1621 in Rome. It is decorated on the front with a chaotic scene of battle between Romans and one of their northern foes, probably the Goths. The writhing and highly emotive figures were spread evenly across the entire relief with no illusion of space behind them. This piling of figures was a very extreme rejection of classical perspective. This rejections shows the increasing dissatisfaction Late Roman artists felt with the classical style. Text Text Text Text Text Text Text Text The central horsemen stands out vividly. He is bareheaded and without a weapon. He may be one of the sons of Trajan Decius.

12 Ancient Rome The Late Empire
Battle of Romans and barbarians, Rome,Italy, CE The Late Empire It is speculated that he is one of the sons of Trajan Decius. He is bareheaded and thrusts out his open right hand to demonstrate that he holds no weapon. The young general is boasting that he is a fearless commander assured of victory. This self assurance may stem from his having embraced one of the increasingly popular Oriental mystery religions. On his forehead there is a carved emblem of Mithras, the Persian god of light, truth, and victory over death.

13 Ancient Rome The Late Empire Sarcophagus of a philosopher,
CE Vatican Museums, Rome The Late Empire Many Romans were led to seek solace in philosophy because of the insecurity during this period. This sculpture depicts an enthroned Roman philosopher holding a scroll, while being flanked by two standing women. There are other philosophers in the background that were students of the central deceased teacher. This type of sarcophagus became very popular for Christian burials, where the wise-man motif was used not only to portray the deceased but also Christ flanked by his apostles. The frontal three-part compositions such as this were quite common in Early Christian art.

14 Ancient Rome The Late Empire Portraits of the four tetrarchs
Saint Mark’s, Venic, CE 305 The Late Empire The four tetrarchs were often portrayed together, both on coins and in the round. Artists sought to represent the nature of the tetrarchy itself- the four equal partners in power. The portraits were done in two pairs of porphyry (purple marble). Each of the emperors has lost his identity as an individual and was subsumed into the larger entity of the tetrarchy. All of the tetrarchs are identical in cuirass and cloak. Each grasps a sheathed sword in the left hand, and with their right arms they embrace one another in an overt display of concord. The figures have large cubical heads on squat bodies. The drapery is schematic and the bodies are shapeless. The faces are emotionless masks, with the human figure once again conceived in iconic terms.

15 Ancient Rome The Late Empire Arch of Constantine
Rome, Italy CE The Late Empire Constantine’s decisive victory at the Milvian Bridge resulted with a great triple-passageway arch in the shadow of the Colosseum to commemorate his defeat of Maxentius. The arch was the largest erected in Rome since the end of the Severan dynasty nearly a century before. There is great sculptural decoration, which was taken from earlier monuments of Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius. Sculptors re-cut the heads of the earlier emperors with the features of the new ruler in honor of Constantine. They also added labels to the old reliefs that were references to the downfall of Maxentius and the end of civl war. The reuse of statues and reliefs by Constantinian artists has been seen as a decline in creativity and technical skill in the waning years of the pagan Roman Empire.

16 Ancient Rome The Late Empire Arch of Constantine (Side View)
Rome, Italy, CE The Late Empire Triple-passageway arch erected after Constantine’s victory at Milvian Bridge, standing in the shadow of the Colosseum to commemorate the defeat of Maxentius, Constantine’s chief rival. Labels were added to old reliefs, such as Fundator Quietus (bringer of peace) and Liberator Urbis (liberator of the city) to refer to Maxentius’ downfall and the end of the civil war. Reuse of statues and reliefs by Constantinian artists shows evidence of decline in creativity and technical skill of the waning years of the pagan Roman Empire. Reused sculptures, however, were carefully selected to associate Constantine with the good emperors of the 2nd century, underscored by reliefs above the lateral passageways, one of which depicting Constantine on the speaker’s platform in the Roman Forum flanked by statues of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius.

17 Ancient Rome The Late Empire
Distribution of largess, detail of the north frieze of the arch of Constantine Rome, Italy, CE The Late Empire Constantine is shown here with attendants, distributing largess to grateful citizens who approach him Figures move without natural movement, but like that of puppets It’s a shallow relief without separately cut heads, depicting just a crowd of people Simply a picture of frozen actors, distinguishing the imperial donor, his attendants to his sides, and the recipients of the largess at the bottom The rigid formality is consistent with a new set of values supplanting classical notions and revealing new principles of the Middle Ages The arch of Constantine was the quintessential monument of its era, showing respect for second century sculpture, but rejecting classical design, therefore paving the way for iconic art of the Middle Ages

18 Ancient Rome The Late Empire
Portrait of Constantine, from the Basilica Nova Rome, Italy, CE The Late Empire Built after Constantine’s victory over Maxentius, broke with tetrarchic tradition and the style of soldier emperors and resuscitated the Augustan image of the eternally youthful head of state. 8 1/2 foot tall head that was part of a 30 foot tall statue of the emperor, made of a brick core, a wooden torso laced with bronze, and head and limbs of marble. Artist modeled the seminude portrait on Roman images of the God Jupiter Emperor once held an orb in his left hand that symbolized global power Nervous glance of 3rd century portraits is gone, now with frontal mask and enormous eyes The size, likening to Jupiter, and eyes directed to no one combine to produce a formula of overwhelming power appropriate to Constantine’s position as absolute ruler Sat in the western apse of the Basilica Nova in Rome, dominating the interior and similarly looming over awestruck mortals who entered the cellas of pagan temples

19 Ancient Rome The Late Empire Aula Palatina (Basilica)
Trier, Germany - early fourth century CE The Late Empire At Trier, the imperial seat of Constantius Chlorus as Caesar of the West, Constantine built a new palace complex. It included a basilica-like audience hall or Aula Palatina of traditional form and materials. The Trier basilica measures about one hundred ninety feet long and ninety-five feet wide. Its austere brick exterior, with boldly projecting vertical buttresses creating a pattern of alternating voids and solids, characterized much later Roman architecture. The growing taste for large windows, seen here, was due to the increasing use of lead-framed panes of window glass, which enabled the Roman builders to give life and movement to blank exterior surfaces.

20 Ancient Rome The Late Empire Aula Palatina
Trier, Germany - early fourth century CE The Late Empire Inside, the audience hall was also very simple. Its flat, wooden, coffered ceiling is ninety-five feet above the floor. The interior has no aisles, just a wide space with two stories of large windows that provide ample light. At the narrow north end, the main hall is divided from the semicircular apse by a so-called triumphal arch. The Aula Palatina’s interior is quite severe, although the arch and the apse originally were covered with marble veneer and mosaics to provide a magnificent environment for the enthroned emperor. The design of both the interior and exterior was closely paralleled in many Early Christian basilicas. The Aula Palatina itself was later converted into a Christian Church.

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