Ancient Roman Art

Roman art is a mixture of paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and buildings.  Many people think that the Roman’s copied the Greeks.

In fact, the Romans created a style of art that used Greek, Etruscan and Egyptian to make new art – Roman art.  The Romans also liked to make lots of pottery from terracotta and coins from gold, silver, and bronze.

Sculptures

Like Roman’s liked to make statues of people or gods.  Examples of Roman sculptures can be seen on the Septimius and Constantine arches.

The Columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius also show detailed Roman sculptures.  The Romans did like large or free-standing sculptures.  Free-standing sculptures are of people or gods.

The Romans felt that the Greeks made better free-standing sculptures and did not try to compete.

Another type of sculpture was called a bust.  A bust is a model of someone’s head.    A bust could be made from marble, bronze or even clay.

Mosaics

The Romans are best known for their mosaics.  Roman mosaics were very beautiful and showed how rich a house was.

If the owner of the house was very rich, then they had mosaics on lots of floors and walls.  Roman mosaics changed over time.  Early mosaics were made with marble or pebbles and shells.

The later mosaics were made with very tiny tiles and took a long time to make.  Some mosaics were made to show a beautiful pattern; others had a picture on them.

Buildings

Many Roman building or ruins of Roman buildings can still be seen today.  Most of them were made over 1000 years ago!

The Romans were the first people to make concrete.  Ancient concrete was made with burnt limestone and volcanic ash to their mortar.  The volcanic ash helped the concrete to get hard and last a long time.

Many Roman buildings also had a marble veneer or extra walls to go around the concrete.  The marble walls helped the building to look nicer.

The marble veneer was removed before or during the middle ages and reused.

Painting

Roman paintings could be of people, landscapes or events, such as a party or a wedding.  Lots of Roman paintings show what a normal day was like for the people.

Roman paintings were often made by mixing dry bits of plaster with water.  This made them look darker or less colorful to the Greek paintings.

In later years, Roman paintings also had pictures of special gods in them as well.  Most paintings were of the fights and battles that the Roman Army fought.

Ancient Roman Art Facts

  • There aren’t a lot of Roman Paintings that can be seen today
  • The Romans were famous for making good buildings and mosaics
  • Some Greeks were captured and kept as slaves by the Romans.  The slaves were used to make sculptures and paintings for the Romans
  • Rich Romans had their coffins covered with great carvings and art
  • Sculptures were very popular in Rome.  Some sculpture makers made lots of the same statues and just changed the heads.
  • Roman Emperors liked to have different sculptures of them placed around Rome and the Roman Empire
  • Roman pottery was sometimes made to show great battle pictures
  • Wealthy Romans wanted to have lots of different types of art in their homes.

Questions

  • What is the name for a sculpture of someone’s head?
    A Bust
  • The Romans were the first to invent concrete.  True or false?
    True
  • The Roman people did not like mosaics.  True or false?
    False
  • The Romans paintings were made by adding bits of plaster to water.  True or false?
    True
  • The Romans added volcanic ashes to their concrete to make it stronger.  True or false?
    True