Ancient Roman art was influenced by culture and tradition of the countries that were a part of the ancient Roman Empire. One of the countries that influenced the art of ancient Rome was Greece. Roman history would be incomplete if Roman art is not mentioned.
The golden period of ancient Roman art was between 750 BC and 410 AD. Architecture, painting, mosaic work, and sculpture were the prominent art forms of this time, while ivory carving, figurine glass, pottery, metal work, gem engraving, and coin-die were the less significant art forms of this culture.
Roman Emperors such as Constantine and Justine promoted many forms of art. Many of the paintings, sculptures, and mosaics of the Romans had a touch and charm of Greek culture. The Greeks, who had migrated to Rome from Greek colonies and provinces, created many of the artworks of ancient Rome.
Some of the famous Greek sculptors were Skopas, Phidias, Lysippos, and Praxitele. The Greek artists were held in high esteem by the Roman artists and the latter copied their style. Many of the major and the minor artworks such as mosaic, coin die, and landscape painting, were wholly borrowed from the Greeks.
Roman art was very colorful and decorative. It mainly indicated the wealth and status of the subject. Whereas the Greeks paid more attention to the aesthetic and natural beauty and qualities of a subject.
Wealthy Romans promoted art and architecture. They loved to decorate the walls of their homes and offices with beautiful sculptures and mural paintings. Roman women were also fond of fine jewelry and clothes. These factors assisted in the growth this art.
Between the 4th and the 6th century, panel painting and wooden painting had died, while art forms such as wall paintings, mosaic ceiling, and floor work thrived. Historians opine that panel painting became unpopular due to religious reasons. Remember, during this period, Christianity was gaining importance.
Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Byzantium and renamed the city as Constantinople. During this period, the Roman art form incorporated the best of the styles of Eastern Europe. This style came to be known as Byzantine art. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian employed as many as 10,000 laborers and artisans to build the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. He also ordered the artisans to create wall and ceiling mosaics in Ravenna, the capital of the Western Roman Empire.
Roman artists used paints and brushes made from natural materials. Leaves and powdered rocks were used to make paint colors. Ochre (a combination of alumina, silica, and ferric oxide) was used to develop the shades of red and yellow. Chalk was used for white color. The Romans used seashells to get a shade of purple and blue, and it was made from a combination of copper and glass. Soot was used for the color black. Twigs, reeds, and wood were used to make paintbrushes. Ivory and quality woods were used to make pens for writing.
To sum up, ancient Roman art also included Roman architecture. The Romans had great architectural skills. The Aqueduct is one such architectural marvel.