Sunday, April 4, 2010

Verism in Roman Art

Initially, Roman sculpture sought truthfulness (verism). Verism in Roman sculpture is often described at "warts and all" meaning that the subject is portrayed as they really looked. It pays close attention to the small details of the human head. The fact that a person was sculpted as they actually appeared shows the value of the individual in Roman society.

Sculptures of heads in marble was adopted from the Greeks, but the Roman style was quite different. The Greeks would idealize the subject as to liken it to a god. The Romans considered facial features to best convey the personality of a person and the age and wisdom gained through life experience. Using verism was the best way to project these qualities.

The Roman culture was structred aroung a strong respect for family and ancestory. Often, likenesses of ancestors were displayed at funerals to inspire the youth to strive for public service achievements. The Roman concept of virtue was based on an morality, a responsible public bearing and courage in the field of battle. Prestige came as a result of age, experience and competition among equals within the political system.

I think that the Romans concern about such things as their culture, government and the individualism and wisdom of their people was well portrayed in their veristic art. They used their sculptures to document the successes of people and to encourage younger people to work hard to meet or exceed their accomplishments. Even today, we recognize the wisdom and honor our elders. After all, they have lived longer and seen more. Could this concept be one of the reasons a person is required to have reached a certain age to be President? We have also learned to respect the value of indivuality in people. Our youth are encouraged to explore their talents and interests and use them to become responsible members of our society. Historically, children have been encouraged to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors. Some do so even without prodding from parents or other family or friends. I feel that if everyone were always shown as young, ideal people that we would suffer more frustration when we cannot meet the accomplishments of our ancestors immediately. Seeing a more true depiction helps us realize we must work and experience life to get there.

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