The Art of Ancient Rome


Mark Cartwright
published on 16 May 2019

Roman artists used every medium from amber to marble, frescoes to glassware, and produced works of art that still pull in the crowds wherever surviving examples are exhibited. The Romans copied, imitated, and innovated to produce art on a grand scale, sometimes compromising quality but on other occasions far exceeding the craftsmanship of their predecessors.

Roman art was not only used to produce beautiful things but also as imperial propaganda and to bang home the message that Rome was not only great but the best. One particular Roman innovation was accurate and sometimes unflattering portraiture as artists threw the idea of idealised art to the winds. Another preoccupation was to capture actual historical events in art and not just stories from myth and legend. Both these avenues of exploration would have a profound influence on all the art produced thereafter in the Western world.

The Romans, like no other culture before them, were champions of art as a popular, affordable, and accessible means of expressing and communicating the human spirit.



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Questions & Answers

What is the art of ancient Rome?

The art of ancient Rome included sculpture, fresco wall painting, pottery painting, mosaics, and minor arts such as jewellery and glass manufacturing.

What kind of art were Romans known for?

The kind of art the Romans are known for includes realistic portraits, vivid frescoes showing scenes of nature, erotic art as seen at Pompeii, and the use of art for propaganda purposes such as statues of important people.

Why is ancient Rome art important?

Roman art is important because it moved away from the idealistic art of the Greeks. Although the Romans made many copies of Greek art where the originals have now been lost. Roman art was one of the inspirations for later movements such as the art of the Renaissance period.

What are 3 things about Roman art?

3 things about Roman art are: Roman artists were much more interested in ordinary people as subjects of art, they often tried to capture real events and not just mythical ones, and they made art that was affordable to more people, not just the very rich.
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About the Author

Mark Cartwright
Mark is a full-time writer, researcher, historian, and editor. Special interests include art, architecture, and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share. He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the WHE Publishing Director.

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