The Roman Empire
In overview, the importance of Roman wall paintings is based on the way they provide a pictorial view of Roman history. Accordingly, the respective paintings tended to take place on plaster. In this respect, four distinct patterns were asserted for providing a synopsis of wall paintings within the Roman culture. The first style of Roman wall painting was more of a discovery of the way marble could be used in different colors and types during painting. The painters belonging to the Late Republican era borrowed styles from illustrations of the Hellenistic works of art such as sculptures and paintings for purposes of representing masonry (Pappalardo and Mazzoleni 56). Normally, the wall was classified into a triad of level, painted zones caped with a stucco-based crown of dentils derived from the Doric architectural form. In significance and development, the fall of the First Style corresponded with the takeover of Pompeii by the Romans in approximately 80 BC (Pappalardo and Mazzoleni 56).
Despite this, three of the styles hold more relevance based on their coincidence with the start of the Roman Empire and the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which would later lead to the destruction of Pompeii and a natural conservation of the Roman wall paintings in their distinct styles. Following this, the Second Style, based on the available wall paintings, emerged within the first century BC (Lydakēs 27). At this time, most painters started borrowing ranges of wall paintings from the Hellenistic period that illustrated men, gods, and heroes within a variety of settings. At this time, the fresco painters copied architectural forms purely via pictorial techniques. Instead of architectural details based on stucco, the artists utilized flat plaster. With this material, recession and projection were asserted by perspective and shading (Lydakēs 30). Moreover, as the respective style developed, the forms became more convoluted leading to a mature Second Style of painting.
The importance of the Third Style is illustrated by the influence of appointment and ascent of Emperor Augustus in 27 BC (Pappalardo and Mazzoleni 90). At this point, the respective pattern of wall painting developed into a style that rejected the incorporation of surface adornment or decoration. As such, most of the wall paintings from the Augustus period contain a simplistic monochromatic backdrop together with detailed vegetation-like and architectural features. Additionally, under Emperor Augustus, there was a novel desire to devise new ideas, instead of re-developing old ones in painting as well as other styles of art such as sculpting and architecture. This is evidenced by the integration of landscape and figural panoramas within the center of the paintings as a significant aspect of the general ornamental framework. This style of painting, which was essentially the court pattern of Augustus and his companion, Agrippa, ultimately influenced a rejuvenated interest in expansion.
Lastly, the importance of the Fourth Style of wall painting is based on its representation of the era of Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, and Claudius. During this period, Rome was characterized by its significant political authority and wealth. Such aspects influenced an explosion of Roman arts and literature. Additionally, the Julio-Claudian era was characterized by rampant cases in notoriety and extravagance among members of the imperial family and community. With innovations in wall painting, the Fourth Style materialized as a rococo reaction towards the attitudes of the Third Style (Lydakēs 67). By refusing to observe the rules evident in the former forms of painting, the Fourth style of wall painting exuded less discipline within its works. Based on this, the respective pattern of wall painting restored widespread narrative paintings as well as panoramic views, while maintaining the architectural particulars of the mentioned style of wall painting.
Lydakēs, Stelios. Ancient Greek Painting and Its Echoes in Later Art. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2014. Print.
Pappalardo, Umberto, and Donatella Mazzoleni. The Splendor of Roman Wall Painting. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009. Print.