Monday, March 31, 2008
What is your theory on why verism in their art is so important to the Romans?
Veristic sculpture was important to the Romans for many reasons. Romans that were from old and prominent families were extremely proud of their ancestry. They were so proud they would make likenesses of them and kept them in their house and brought them out for funerals of relatives. These portraits could only be possessed by those who had a distinguished genealogical background. The portraits that were made of the ancestors were made in likeness to that person. Given that the Romans only allowed prominent families to have portraits of family members in their homes this also established the portraits as a way of distinguishing between classes. Generally only older men held positions of power in the Republic and when their portraits were being sculpted they asked that they not make them appear more refined or noble than they actually were. Thus, the sculptors portrayed them realistically; similar to the way the household likenesses of previous ancestors would have been depicted. The Republic patricians were mostly men of old age and accordingly their portraits depicted that. Wrinkles, leathery skin, warts, every detail good or bad was represented. These realistic portraits also showed the personality of the man. Romans valued experience, determination, loyalty and seriousness in a man’s character. An older face with wrinkles and imperfections depicts these traits much more than a younger face which would appear more innocent and immature. The patricians wanted to be portrayed as they were because it told of their status in society as someone who held power in the Republic and it made a statement of what should be valued in a person’s character.