Four styles of Roman wall painting: Incrustation style; Architectural style; Ornate style; and Intricate style

Topics: Painting, The Wall, Roman Empire Pages: 5 (1601 words) Published: February 21, 2009
FOUR STYLES OF ROMAN WALL PAINTING

The wall paintings evolved from around 2nd BC. Romans created these extravaganza works to emphasise their wealth. The evidence for the techniques used is described by Vitruvius' in _De Architectura._ He noted that wall paintings were interior wall designs as frescoes, which were executed using damp plaster (lime and sand mixed together). There must have been at least several layers of this plaster, where the top layers were burnished with marble powder to make the surface smooth and glittering. Then on this medium the pigments of primary colours were applied quickly while it was still wet. The colour black was drawn from carbon of burned brushwood; yellow was obtained from mines or from heated white led; baked mixture of sand and copper produced colour blue; red was obtained from red ochre or cinnabar; and the most precious colour purple was obtained from sea whelks. The essential tools used for plastering the walls were wooden float and trowel blades. Many wall paintings are very well preserved because as plaster dries, water evaporates and plaster absorbs carbonic acid gas (from air) which forms a protective skin of crystalline carbonate of lime. The roman wall paintings were inspired by Greek and Hellenistic paintings and architecture.�

The wall paintings were classified into four 'styles' by German archaeologist August Mau (1840-1909). He did not consider individual elements of paintings but rather focused on decorative composition and patterns and how they might be grouped into certain period 'styles'. So these styles marked the shifting point in the chronology of painting from 2nd century BC to the final eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii in 79 CE as there are the most wall paintings that have survived. The 'styles' were identified as follows: the 1st 'style' is called Incrustation style (2nd - 1st BC); the 2nd was Architectural style (c. 100- 15 BC); the 3rd was Ornate style (c.20 BC - c.20 AD); and the 4th was Intricate style (from c. 50 CE).�

The first style is most distinctive style from all. Using this style, the wall was painted and moulded from stucco with the replication of various architectural elements such as masonry bricks, suspended alabaster discs, 'wooden' beams, mouldings of dentils and etc. The figures did not give much of the importance to overall painting. The colours used were very bright such as yellow, red, green or even 'marbled effect' in order to display the splendour of the buildings. The wall was usually divided into three horizontal panels. Probably the earliest example can be found in the diagram of 'tablinum' (south west wall) the house of Livia (c. 30 BC) in Rome. Here we can clearly see the division of wall by two vertical lines into three major sections, which are further divided into small sections, appearing as masonry blocks. The other wall painting appears in Samnite house, in Herculaneum during c.2nd BC. This elaborate marbled panel appears as wall of bricks with glittering affects, which completely fits into the definition of Incrustation style. This style was mostly influenced by Greek art with representing materials of building and the figure drawing was influenced by Hellenistic wall paintings.

The replacement of first style occurred around 80 BC after defeat in the Social War. Here the Architectural style emerged, with the emphasis on the imitation of architectural forms to evoke a more spectacular type of architecture. Instead of using details based on stucco, there was the use of flat plaster on which projection and recession were emphasised by the use of shading and perspective. The common features in this style are use of Ionic columns or stage platforms. But still these decorations make the wall to appear sort of 'closed in'. The architectural style is evident in the house of the Griffins on the Palatine Hill in Rome. There was found the geometrical marble affects on the walls with use of stucco like in the first style,...

Bibliography: Ramage, Nancy & Ramage, Andrew _Roman Art: the Cambridge Illustrated History_ Cambridge University Press, 1991 pp.55-65 (Wall Paintings)
Steward, Peter _Roman Art_ Greece & Rome: New Surveys in the Classics No. 34; Oxford University Press, 2004 pp. 74-92
Strong, Donald _Roman Art_ revised by Roger Ling, 2nd edition, 1988; pp. 63-74
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeian_Styles
Department of Greek and Roman Art. "Roman Painting". In _Timeline of Art History_. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000-. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ropt/hd_ropt.htm (October 2004)
� � HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresco" ��http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresco� ; � HYPERLINK "http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ropt/hd_ropt.htm" ��http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ropt/hd_ropt.htm�
� Steward Roman Art pp. 74-76 (Pompeii and Paintings)
� Strong Roman Art pp.65-68; � HYPERLINK "http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ropt/hd_ropt.htm" ��http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ropt/hd_ropt.htm�
� � HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeian_Styles" ��http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeian_Styles�
� Steward Roman Art pp.80-82 ( the Third and Fourth styles); � HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeian_Styles" ��http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeian_Styles�
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