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Lifelike paintings
Some of the encaustic paintings, and the polychrome mosaic from the other post, make me remember a passage from the Satyricon, where the hero is in an art gallery admiring the life like paintings, as if they are breathing. Maybe because they have deteriorated badly but Pompeiian frescos look like they were also pretty realistic.<br>
I was wondering if anyone can think of any other references to the lifelike qualities of Roman art in ancient literature. <p></p><i></i>
Richard Campbell
Legio XX - Alexandria, Virginia
RAT member #6?
Pliny's Natural History might be a good reference for a Roman viewpoint on art.<br>
In his book 'Roman Art and Architecture' Mortimer Wheeler refers to Pliny a number of times. In writing about the Roman's liking for factual record he mentions the famous mosaic "found in 1831 in the House of the Faun at Pompeii which represents the battle of Alexander with Darius 111 at the Issus in 333BC and is derived from a more or less contemporary painting either by Philoxenos or by Aristeides of Thebes". He goes on to say that Pliny (N.H.XXXV. 98-9 and 110) described Aristeides as the 'first among all painters to paint the soul' and to 'give expression to the affections of man and to his emotions.'<br>
This appears to be very similar to Eumolpus observation in the Satyricon: "The lines of the paintings were so subtle and clear-cut that you could see them as expressing the subjects' very souls."<br>
Wheeler's book itself may well be worth having a look at for his viewpoint on the development of art from the Hellenistic ideal of "perfect shape with little or no actively intellectual or emotional content" to the often callously brutal realism of Roman portraiture. <br>
Again on Pliny: "Another artist (N.H. XXXV.112) painted barbers shops and cobblers' stalls, asses, viands and the like, and so recieved the Greek name of rhyparographos, 'painter of commonplace subjects.' Nevertheless he gave great pleasure, and his pictures fetched higher prices than the largest works of many painters."<br>
Wheeler comments that this "illustrates the developing and essentially modern recognition by the Roman artist of the world about him as a field of study in it's own right, even in it's more secular and trivial aspects."<br>
Jackie. <p></p><i></i>

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