Daily archives: January 19, 2010

The Material of Roman Portraits- Painting

From material remains we receive few glimpses of the importance of
painting as a portrait medium.Most of the evidence derives from mural
painting, whereas portraits painted on wooden panels or linen have disappeared almost entirely, except in Egypt where preservation conditions
have been exceptionally good. However, portraits painted on wooden
panels were a mode of representation that was probably as significant
as marble or bronze. An abundance of evidence, both inscriptional and
literary, demonstrates that paintings were a significant portrait medium
in all parts of the Empire, including Rome. Dio, for example, first mentions
painted portraits when he explains that in A.D. 45 Claudius found
the public spaces in Rome so overcrowded with portraits that he had
them moved somewhere else.

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The Material of Roman Portraits- introduction

Bearing in mind the basic aspects of public honour and private commemoration outlined above focus is now on modes of representation.
Materiality, technique and the choice of material as giving meaning to
portraits are often overlooked. Material enhanced the aesthetic appeal
of a portrait and it carried cultural, contextual, social and economic
properties that changed with time.
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