What were some common traditions in Roman Republic-era art?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Roman Republic lasted for nearly 500 years. During this long period, artistic styles and techniques went through various changes, developments, and modifications. However, there are some common elements and traditions that remained the same through the entire Republic.

Republican Roman art was always greatly influenced by its neighbors, particularly the Greeks and Etruscans. Elements of art from these other cultures are prominent in Roman pieces. This is the case for visual art and literature. Both forms of art often took the form of praise for the ideal of human beauty and achievement. However, by the late Republic, Roman works shifted to a more realistic portrayal of its subjects. While Classical Greek art usually portrayed an idealized human form, Roman works aimed to portray people and their achievements in a more realistic way. This was particularly the case when it comes to portraits. Roman works also depicted more grizzled subjects, as they respected age and experience.

Eclecticism is another common tradition of art from the Roman Republic. As Rome conquered more territory, disparate foreign styles found their way into its art. Sometimes, elements from several different regions and cultures would be combined in a single piece to make something uniquely Roman. It would not be uncommon to find a Roman sculpture or painting with Etruscan, Phoenician, and Greek elements all present.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team