Trajan's Market from Vittoriano, Rome


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The integration between the architectonic and figurative genres was the fundamental theme of the artistic production of the time: there are significant examples like the Domus Aurea Neronian (once again allowing visits) rich in paintings (probably of Fabullus) and decorative plaster, the Palace of the Flavi Chancery, the Coliseum (Amphitheatre Flavio), the Domus Augustana (Imperial Palace of Domiziano on the Palatino), the Arch of Tito.

The neo-Attica tendency, present in architectonic examples, tended to disappear in the figurative expressions, being substituted by special prospective solutions and of plasticity ignored by Classicism (Triumphal Procession on the Arch of Tito). Coloured mosaics (emblems) and black and white ones, bass-relief (Traiana Column), mural paintings (villas of Pompei), re-proposed a compromise between realism and Ellenism, whilst in architecture, developments went ahead with the Utilitas conception, based on the evolution of classic forms and on their use adapted to the town planning, military and civil needs, present during the reconstruction and foundation of the Imperial Cities.
The Emperor Adriano (117-13) supported these trends and thanks to him, the reconstruction of the Pantheon, The Temple of Venus and suburban complexes of Villa Adriana in Tivoli took place.
Figurative art went ahead by affirming the sculptural and pictorial styles, based on light and dark motifs, which were very popular during the Antonini era (134-192; base of the Column of Antonino Pio, paintings of Lucio Vero and Commodo).

The contemporary foundation of a school of sculpture at Efeso, diffused throughout the East (Palmira, Petra, Baalbek) prepared for the evolution of Roman art computed during the era of the Severi (3rd Century): breaking away from realism and naturalism, and using instead allegory, illusional optical effects are innovative elements already existent in the Column dedicated to Marco Aurelio, where, for the first time in history, an element of a miraculous nature was attributed to the Emperor (rain which saved the Roman Army).

The arch of Settimio Severo and that of Leptis Magna (native city of the Emperor) renewed the motifs of the historical reliefs, already present in previous work (Arch of Tito, Arch of Traiano at Benevento), but gestures of the Emperor are seen in epic-dramatical keys and no longer celebrative. The rarefied effect is obtained by tracing profound grooves around the figures, by use of a helicoid drill. Painting and mosaic also followed allegoric and illusionistic tendencies (paintings in Encausto, Fayyum in Egypt, polychromed mosaic flooring produced in Libya and Sicily).

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