Ancient Rome Art

Pompeii. Villa of the Mysteries

Roman art did not get a start until 500 BC. Before this the Romans copied the art of the Etruscans. About 200 BC, the Romans conquered the Greeks and began copying their art style. During their conquest of Greece, the Romans looted the towns. They brought the art home. They also captured sculptors and brought them to Rome as slaves.

Beginning with the Roman Republic, the Romans started making statues that really looked like one particular person. The Romans were far more realistic than the Greeks with their statues. The Greeks tried to build statues to illustrate the "ideal" person. The Romans believed that having a good image of somebody's face kept its ghost happy.


Frescoes, painting on plaster, became popular during the first century AD.. The paintings were painted on a specially prepared wall with three layers of plaster and three layers of a special coating.

Colors were applied to the top layer while it was wet. This made the fresco durable and able to hold up well over a long period of time.

The Romans also painted on canvas. They often painted battle scenes. These were displayed in temples or in public buildings. Unfortunately none of these have withstood time.


Pompeii. House of the Fontana Piccola. Painting to R. of fountain

The Romans painted murals. These depicted everyday scenes around Rome. They also painted mythological scenes such as the heroic deeds of Hercules, Achilles, Ulysses, and Theseus.


Mosaics were also popular. These were made with small pieces of tile that fit together like a puzzle.

As the Roman Empire became larger, the Britons, Spanish, Carthaginians, Phoenicians, etc. mixed their art styles with Romans styles to form many different styles throughout the Mediterranean area. Around 200 AD, the German influence was first seen in the Roman art. At this time, the art showed people suffering such as having their head cut off or their insides ripped out.

Pompeii. House of the Tragic Poet. Cave Canem mosaic



The drill was invented making sculpting easier and faster. This gave the art a little different look.

By the 300's AD, Christianity influence began to show up in Roman art. The artwork had less blood and gore. Some figures were sculpted with the eyes looking towards heaven. At this time the body was less important. Sculptors took less time with the body and at times the body was not in the correct proportions.

Click the images to go to the individual pages.

Ancient Rome Introduction
Romulus and Remus
The History of Rome


The City of Rome
Ancient Roman Emperors
Roman Gods


Ancient Roman Gladiators
The Roman Meal
Ancient Roman Entertainment


Ancient Roman Baths
Ancient Roman Clothing
Ancient Roman Children


Ancient Roman Slaves
Ancient Roman Soldiers
Ancient Roman Homes


Ancient Roman Art
Ancient Roman Calendar
Ancient Roman Building


Roman Numerals
Roman Catacombs