A History of Roman Art (Enhanced Edition): A Lavishly-Illustrated Survey of the Artistic Legacy of Rome
A History of Roman Art (Enhanced Edition) is a book by Fred S. Kleiner, a professor of art history and archeology at Boston University. It is a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the art of Rome and the Roman Empire from the 8th century BCE to the 4th century CE, covering all aspects of Roman art and architecture, including private art and domestic architecture, the art of the Eastern and Western provinces, the art of freedmen, and the so-called minor arts, such as cameos, silverware, and coins[^1^] [^2^].
The book is divided into four parts: Monarchy and Republic, Early Empire, High Empire, and Late Empire. Each part traces the development of Roman art in its historical, political, and social context, highlighting the achievements and innovations of different periods and regions. The book also features special chapters devoted to Pompeii and Herculaneum, Ostia, funerary and provincial art and architecture, and the earliest Christian art[^1^] [^2^].
The Enhanced Edition of the book has added coverage on Etruscan art in the beginning of the text, providing a broader perspective on the origins and influences of Roman art[^1^] [^2^] [^3^]. The book is also lavishly-illustrated with more than 400 color photographs, maps, diagrams, and reconstructions that bring the ancient world to life[^1^] [^2^]. The book is suitable for students, scholars, and general readers who want to learn more about the artistic legacy of Rome.
Major Periods of Roman Art
Roman art can be divided into several major periods based on the political and cultural changes that occurred in Rome and its vast empire. These periods are not fixed or definitive, but rather reflect some general trends and characteristics that can help us understand the artistic production of the Romans.
Monarchy and Republic (8th-1st centuries BCE): This period covers the origins of Rome as a small city-state ruled by kings, and its expansion into a republic that dominated Italy and the Mediterranean. The art of this period reflects the influences of the neighboring cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Greeks, as well as the development of a distinctive Roman identity and style. Some of the artistic forms that emerged in this period include realistic portrait busts, historical reliefs, and monumental architecture such as temples, aqueducts, and roads.
Early Empire (1st-2nd centuries CE): This period covers the establishment of the imperial system by Augustus and his successors, and the consolidation of Roman power and culture throughout the provinces. The art of this period reflects the ideals of order, harmony, and propaganda that characterized the Augustan age, as well as the diversity and richness of the provincial art. Some of the artistic forms that emerged or flourished in this period include imperial portraits, historical reliefs, triumphal arches, domed buildings, wall paintings, mosaics, and luxury arts.
High Empire (2nd-3rd centuries CE): This period covers the peak of Roman imperial expansion and prosperity under the rule of the so-called Five Good Emperors and their successors. The art of this period reflects the confidence, stability, and cosmopolitanism of the Roman world, as well as the challenges and crises that it faced. Some of the artistic forms that emerged or developed in this period include equestrian statues, column monuments, baths, villas, sarcophagi, and catacombs.
Late Empire (3rd-4th centuries CE): This period covers the decline and transformation of the Roman empire under the pressure of internal and external threats, and the rise of Christianity as a dominant religion. The art of this period reflects the changes in society, politics, and religion that occurred in this turbulent time, as well as the continuity and resilience of Roman culture. Some of the artistic forms that emerged or evolved in this period include tetrarchic portraits, Constantinian monuments, basilicas, Christian symbols, and icons. aa16f39245