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Four Styles Of Roman Wall Painting: Incrustation Style; Architectural Style; Ornate Style; And Intricate Style

1589 words - 6 pages

Four Styles of Roman Wall PaintingThe 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...

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