The Ancient Library

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On this page: Sculpture (continued)



cordance with the realistic spirit of Rome, as opposed to the Greek custom of idea­lizing persons and events, this department strove to secure the greatest possible


Found in 1863. (Rome, Vatican.)

accuracy and truth. The most important works of the kind are the reliefs on the Arch of Titus (see cut under triumph) ; those on the Arch of Constantine, taken from the Arch of Trajan (see cut under triumphal arches); and those on the columns of Trajan and M. Aurelius (see cut under architecture, orders of, p. 58 b). Roman historical sculpture is seen already on its decline in the reliefs of the Arch of Septlmlus Severus (203 a.d.), and the decline is complete in those of the Arch of Constantine. A subordinate branch of relief sculpture was employed on the sarcophagi common from the 2nd century A.D. The subjects of these reliefs are rarely taken from events in the man's actual life, they are most usually scenes from legends of Greek gods or heroes, often after com­positions of an earlier period, and accord­ingly showing a Greek character in their treatment. (See cut under muses.)

Materials. White marble was the material chiefly emploj'ed: in the earlier times of Greek art, the local kinds, in Attica particularly the Pentelic, which is " fine in grain and of a pure white" (Middleton's Rome in 1888, pp. 11, 12).

From the 4th century on that of Parts was preferred. [This is a very beautiful marble, though of a strongly crystalline grain; it is slightly translucent.] It was used in Roman times in preference to the similar marble of Luna (Carrara), a " marble of many qualities, from the purest white and a fine sparkling grain like loaf sugar, to the coarser sorts disfigured with bluish-gray streaks" (ib). It was sometimes used for columns in Rome. The marble of Hymettus " appears to have been the first foreign marble introduced into Home. It resembles the inferior kind of Luna marble, being rather coarse in grain and frequently stained with gray striations" (ib.). Coloured marble first became popu­lar under the emperors; e.g. black for Egyptian subjects (statues of Isis), red for Dionysus, Satyrs, and others in his train. To the same period belongs the use of striped and spotted kinds of marble, coloured alabaster, porphyry, and granite. Different colours of stone were also com­bined (e.g. drapery of black marble or porphyry).

A noteworthy peculiarity of ancient sculpture, as also of architecture, is the habit of embellishing all kinds of marble work by the application of colours (Poly-chromy), which is known from references in ancient writers. [Plato, Rep. 420 C, speaks of " painting statues." Plutarch, De Gloria Athen. 348 F, mentions " dyers " of statues side by side with gilders and encaustic painters. Lastly, Pliny, xxxv 133, states that Praxiteles owned he was much indebted to the circ.umtttio, or touch­ing up, of his works by the painter Nicias.] It is also attested by traces still present on many works, [Thus the straps of the sandal of the Hermes of Praxiteles still show traces of red and gold; and the statues at Pompeii, especially those of late date, are in many cases coloured, especially certain parts of the drapery. The accom­panying cut (fig. 18) introduces us into the studio of an artist engaged in embellish­ing with paint a terminal statue of Hermes. The original sketch in colours lies on the ground, and she is pausing to examine her work, which is also watched with interest by two bystanders. (Cp. Treu, Sollen wir unsre Statucn bemalen ? Berlin, 1884.) Wood and pottery were always painted. [It is sometimes supposed that] even sculp­tures intended for the adornment of build­ings, e.g. metopes and friezes, not only had painted backgrounds (generally blue or

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