The main advantage of Ancient Roman sculpture is the realism and authenticity of images. First of all, this is due to the fact that the Romans had a strong cult of ancestors, and from the earliest period of Roman history there was a custom to remove posthumous wax masks, which later were taken as the basis for sculptural portraits by sculptors.
The very concept of ancient Roman art has a very conditional meaning. All Roman sculptors were of Greek origin. In an aesthetic sense, the whole ancient Roman sculpture is a replica of the Greek. An innovation was the combination of the Greek desire for harmony and Roman rigidity and the cult of power.
The history of ancient Roman sculpture is divided into three parts - the art of the Etruscans, plastic era of the republic and imperial art.
The sculpture of the Etruscans was designed to decorate the funeral urns. These urns themselves were created in the form of a human body. Realism of the image was considered necessary to maintain order in the world of spirits and people. The works of the ancient Etruscan masters, despite the primitiveness and schematics of the images, amaze with the individuality of each image, their character and energy.
Sculpture of the Roman Republic
The sculpture of the times of the Republic is characterized by emotional stinginess, detachment and coldness. It seemed that the image was completely closed. The reason for this is the exact reproduction of the death mask when creating the sculpture. The situation was somewhat corrected by Greek aesthetics, the canons by which the proportions of the human body were calculated.
Numerous reliefs of triumphal columns, temples, which belong to this period, amaze with grace of lines and realism. Especially worth mentioning is the bronze sculpture of the Roman she-wolf. The fundamental legend of Rome, the material embodiment of Roman ideology, is the significance of this statue in culture. The primitivization of the plot, the wrong proportions, the fantastic, do not stop at all from admiring the dynamics of this work, the special sharpness and temperament.
But the main achievement in the sculpture of this era is a realistic sculptural portrait. Unlike Greece, where creating a portrait, the master somehow subordinated to the laws of harmony and beauty all the individual features of the model, Roman masters carefully copied all the subtleties of the appearance of the models. On the other hand, this often led to a simplification of images, roughness of lines and a distance from realism.
Sculpture of the Roman Empire
The task of the art of any empire is to exalt the emperor and power. Rome is no exception. The Romans of the era of the empire could not imagine their home without sculptures of their ancestors, gods and the emperor himself. Therefore, many examples of imperial plastic art have survived to this day.
First of all, the triumphal columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius deserve attention. The columns are decorated with bas-reliefs telling about military campaigns, exploits and trophies. Such reliefs are not only works of art that strike with accuracy of images, multi-figure composition, harmonious lines and subtlety of work, it is also an invaluable historical source that allows you to restore everyday and military details of the era of the empire.
Statues of emperors on the forums of Rome are made in a harsh, rude manner. There is no trace of that Greek harmony and beauty that was characteristic of early Roman art. Masters, first of all, should portray strong and tough rulers. A departure from realism has also occurred. The Roman emperors were depicted as athletically built, tall, despite the fact that few of them were distinguished by a harmonious physique.
Almost always, during the Roman Empire, sculptures of the gods were depicted with the faces of the ruling emperors, so historians know for sure what the emperors of the largest ancient state looked like.
Despite the fact that Roman art, without a doubt, has entered the world treasury of many masterpieces, in essence it is only a continuation of ancient Greek. The Romans developed ancient art, made it more magnificent, majestic, brighter. On the other hand, it was the Romans who lost the sense of proportion, depth and ideological content of early ancient art.