HISTART 689-004

Special Topics in History of Art: Ancient Roman Painting: Image and Abstraction

M 12:00 PM 03:00 PM
3 Credit Seminar

Cross-listed with Classics TBD

This traveling seminar explores the vibrant media of ancient Roman painting, with a focus on the tradition of interior fresco painting in particular. We take an in-depth look at the wide body of surviving paintings from Pompeii and Herculaneum, using Mau's famous "four styles" as an initial way into the material, but interrogating his system's limitations and assumptions. In these towns on the Bay of Naples we will consider paintings in townhouses, villas, and public spaces like temples, as well as the more overlooked sites of markets, inns, workshops, and latrines. We also cast our net further afield to include the Emperor Nero's Domus Aurea palace in Rome, the terraced houses of Ephesus (Turkey), the Nabataean paintings of Jordan, the painted house of Dover (England), the synagogue and church of Dura Europos (Syria), and the sole corpus of surviving Roman panel paintings from the Fayum region in Egypt. Throughout we will consider the negotiations of categories of image and abstraction inherent in these works, and reflect on the reasons for the long comparative neglect of Roman interior wall painting in the grand narratives of classical art history. The highlight of the course will be a required week-long trip to Italy, funded by the university. (Dependent upon successful application for funding.)

All course materials are posted on Canvas, or on reserve in the Fine Arts Library

HISTART Distribution Requirements: Europe and the US, Middle East, Ancient

Course Requirements:

  1. In class presentation of readings 15%
  2. Annotated bibliography 25%
  3. Presentation of a visual work in situ in Italy 20%
  4. Final research paper 40%

Intended Audience: Graduate students

Estimated Cost of Materials: $0-50

Class Format: Three hour seminar