Special Issue "Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2)"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 February 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Regina Gee
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor of Ancient Art, School of Art, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA
Interests: Roman art; Romano-Campanian wall painting; Roman villa decoration; Villa of Poppaea; Villa Oplontis; Pompeii
Dr. Vanessa Rousseau
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Independent Scholar, St. Paul, MN 55104, USA
Interests: Greek and Roman art; wall painting; opus sectile; surface decoration; Sardis; art authentication; antiquities trade

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

From the Bronze Age Aegean, Egypt, and Mesopotamia to the late Roman Empire, painted images mediated the experiences and interactions of the individuals whose cultures produced them. They influenced and even shaped the rituals of home life, work, religion, and other social experiences in myriad, complex ways. For example, iconography, patterns or other embedded references could function as cues related to social status/relationships, pathways or belief systems. At the same time, images specific to a particular culture could "travel", whether as paintings on portable objects like ceramics and panels or as a cultural import in the form of new subjects and motifs decorating architecture. Across a long timeline shaped by inter-cultural traffic and exchange, painted imagery could also “travel” diachronically, fluidly picking up and shedding meaning(s) through changing audiences, different patrons, and new viewing contexts.

In consideration of both of these ideas, the creation of distinctive cultural products and an ongoing mutable "life" through circulation and receptions, these two volumes focus on new insights into the interaction(s) between viewer and painted surface. Proposed subjects include the relation between patrons and makers, the relevancy of distinctions between fine art and craft for understanding contemporary value and viewer reception, the exchange of ideas and motifs between cultural groups, the influence of various representational media on each other, kinaesthetic address, or the experiential effect of painted imagery with a consideration of time, movement, and body position, as well technical studies that bring the meaning of two-dimensional renderings into sharper relief.

Volume 2 will be focused on painting from roughly 100 BCE to 600 CE in the Mediterranean, starting from the Italic peninsula as a crucible whose interactive elements included Greek and Etruscan, and expanding outward to consider Roman spheres of contact and exchange across Europe, Africa, and the Levant. Anticipated areas of discussion include, but are not limited to, wall painting in domestic and public spaces, tombs, and relationships between across media and functional and geographic boundaries.

Dr. Regina Gee
Dr. Vanessa Rousseau
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ancient painting
  • wall painting
  • fresco
  • secco
  • mural
  • decoration
  • pigment
  • Greek
  • Roman
  • domestic
  • civic
  • surface
  • iconography

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Circling Round Vitruvius, Linear Perspective, and the Design of Roman Wall Painting
Arts 2019, 8(3), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030118 - 14 Sep 2019
Abstract
Many scholars believe that linear perspective existed in classical antiquity, but a fresh examination of two key texts in Vitruvius shows that 1.2.2 is about modularity and symmetria, while 7.Pr.11 describes shading (skiagraphia). Moreover, these new interpretations are firmly based [...] Read more.
Many scholars believe that linear perspective existed in classical antiquity, but a fresh examination of two key texts in Vitruvius shows that 1.2.2 is about modularity and symmetria, while 7.Pr.11 describes shading (skiagraphia). Moreover, these new interpretations are firmly based on the classical understanding of optics and the history of painting (e.g., Pliny the Elder). A third text (Philostratus, Imagines 1.4.2) suggests that the design of Roman wall painting depends on concentric circles. Philostratus’ system is then used to successfully make facsimiles of five walls, representing Styles II, III, and IV of Roman wall painting. Hence, linear perspective and its relatives, such as Panofsky’s vanishing vertical axis, should not be imposed retrospectively where they never existed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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Open AccessArticle
Reflection, Ritual, and Memory in the Late Roman Painted Hypogea at Sardis
Arts 2019, 8(3), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030103 - 19 Aug 2019
Abstract
Wall painting in the Sardis hypogea expresses a regional visual language situated within the context of Late Antique approaches to decorative surfaces and multivalent motifs of indeterminate religious affiliation. Iconographic ambivalence and a typically Late Antique absence of illusionism creates a supranatural world [...] Read more.
Wall painting in the Sardis hypogea expresses a regional visual language situated within the context of Late Antique approaches to decorative surfaces and multivalent motifs of indeterminate religious affiliation. Iconographic ambivalence and a typically Late Antique absence of illusionism creates a supranatural world that is grounded in the familiar imagery of home and gardens but does not quite reflect the natural world. Ubiquitous and mundane motifs were thus elevated and potentially charged with polysemic allusions to funerary practice and belief. Twelve fourth century C.E. hypogea form a distinctive corpus with a largely homogenous decorative program of scattered flowers, garlands, baskets, and birds. Related imagery is common throughout the larger Roman world, but compositional parallels from Western Anatolia suggest a particularly local visual vocabulary. The chronologically, geographically, and typologically discrete nature of the Sardis corpus set it apart from the standard of Rome while underscoring commonalities in late Roman funerary decoration and ritual. The painted imagery evoked funerary processes and ongoing social negotiation between the living and the deceased. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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Open AccessArticle
The Girl with the Golden Wreath: Four Perspectives on a Mummy Portrait
Arts 2019, 8(3), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030092 - 16 Jul 2019
Abstract
A mummy portrait of a young woman with a golden wreath is part of the archaeological collection of the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam. This portrait is covered by four authors, each from their separate perspective, namely provenance research, technical examination, museum presentation, [...] Read more.
A mummy portrait of a young woman with a golden wreath is part of the archaeological collection of the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam. This portrait is covered by four authors, each from their separate perspective, namely provenance research, technical examination, museum presentation, and diversity education. Provenance research is significant not only for tracing the second-life biography of the panel, but also for assessing its bona fide authenticity. Non-invasive examinations can help identify possible underlayers, pigments and modern restorations. Museological aspects concern the contextualization of the portrait, not only as a funerary artefact, but also as an expression of physical appearance. Educational programs can be implemented to illustrate to museum visitors the relevance of ancient artefacts for modern society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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Open AccessArticle
Applications of Photogrammetric Modeling to Roman Wall Painting: A Case Study in the House of Marcus Lucretius
Arts 2019, 8(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030089 - 10 Jul 2019
Abstract
Across many sites in Italy today, wall paintings face particular dangers of damage and destruction. In Pompeii, many extant fragments are open to the air and accessible to tourists. While efforts are underway to preserve the precious few examples that have come down [...] Read more.
Across many sites in Italy today, wall paintings face particular dangers of damage and destruction. In Pompeii, many extant fragments are open to the air and accessible to tourists. While efforts are underway to preserve the precious few examples that have come down to us today, after excavation even new finds begin to decay from the moment they are exposed to the air. Digital photogrammetry has been used for the documentation, preservation, and reconstruction of archaeological sites, small objects, and sculpture. Photogrammetry is also well-suited to the illustration and reconstruction of Roman wall painting and Roman domestic interiors. Unlike traditional photography, photogrammetry can offer three-dimensional (3D) documentation that captures the seams, cracks, and warps in the structure of the wall. In the case of an entire room, it can also preserve the orientation and visual impression of multiple walls in situ. This paper discusses the results of several photogrammetric campaigns recently undertaken to document the material record in the House of Marcus Lucretius at Pompeii (IX, 3, 5.24). In the process, it explores the combination of visual analysis with digital tools, and the use of 3D models to represent complex relationships between spaces and objects. To conclude, future avenues for research will be discussed, including the creation of an online database that would facilitate visualizing further connections within the material record. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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Open AccessArticle
Masks, Mirrors, and Mediated Perception: Reflective Viewing in the House of the Gilded Cupids
Arts 2019, 8(3), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030083 - 03 Jul 2019
Abstract
Masks, as a locus of mimetic potential, serve both to typify and to disguise, distilling character traits and translating them visually, even as they hide the visage of those who might wear them, suggesting a performative persona through the partial negation of the [...] Read more.
Masks, as a locus of mimetic potential, serve both to typify and to disguise, distilling character traits and translating them visually, even as they hide the visage of those who might wear them, suggesting a performative persona through the partial negation of the form of the actor. As a multi-dimensional depiction, they enable the generation of distance between viewer and viewed, translating an animate individual into an inanimate object and thus, through the intervention of a worked surface, inviting interpretation. To explore the ways that these ideas interact within a domestic space, the article focuses on the House of the Gilded Cupids, interrogating the interplay between materiality and depiction by pairing masks with mirrors, considering the ways in which both media use surface to highlight liminality, eliding viewer and viewed in a complex commentary on the mutability of visual perception. Highlighting the juxtaposition of inset obsidian panels with depictions of reflective surfaces in the mythological wall paintings within the domestic space, the article argues that the conflation of mirror, mask, and reflection within the space enables the viewer to utilize depicted conceptual doubles to both reinforce and undermine the boundaries of the viewer’s embodied reality in order to confront the extent to which an individual is predicated on perception, both internal and external. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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Open AccessArticle
New Insight into Hellenistic and Roman Cypriot Wall Paintings: An Exploration of Artists’ Materials, Production Technology, and Technical Style
Arts 2019, 8(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8020074 - 24 Jun 2019
Abstract
A recent scientific investigation on Hellenistic and Roman wall paintings of funerary and domestic contexts from Nea (‘New’) Paphos, located in the southwest region of Cyprus, has revealed new information on the paintings’ constituent materials, their production technology and technical style of painting. [...] Read more.
A recent scientific investigation on Hellenistic and Roman wall paintings of funerary and domestic contexts from Nea (‘New’) Paphos, located in the southwest region of Cyprus, has revealed new information on the paintings’ constituent materials, their production technology and technical style of painting. Nea Paphos, founded in the late 4th century BC, became the capital of the island during the Hellenistic period (294–58 BC) and developed into a thriving economic center that continued through the Roman period (58 BC–330 AD). A systematic, analytical study of ancient Cypriot wall paintings, excavated from the wealthy residences of Nea Paphos and the surrounding necropoleis, combining complementary non-invasive, field-deployable characterization techniques, has expanded the scope of analysis, interpretation and access of these paintings. The results from in situ analyses, combining X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and fiber-optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), forensic imaging in reflectance and luminescence, and digital photomicrography, were informative on the raw materials selection, application technique(s) and extent of paintings beyond the visible. Data collected through the integration of these techniques were able to: (1) show an intricate and rich palette of pigments consisting of local and foreign natural minerals and synthetic coloring compounds applied pure or in mixtures, in single or multiple layers; (2) identify and map the spatial distribution of Egyptian blue across the surface of the paintings, revealing the extent of imagery and reconstructing iconography that was no longer visible to the naked eye; and (3) visualize and validate the presence of Egyptian blue to delineate facial contours and flesh tone shading. This innovation and technical characteristic in the manner of painting facial outlines and constructing chiaroscuro provides a new insight into the artistic practices, inferring artists/or workshops’ organization in Cyprus during the Roman period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial Dimensions in Roman Wall Painting and the Interplay of Enclosing and Enclosed Space: A New Perspective on Second Style
Arts 2019, 8(2), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8020068 - 30 May 2019
Abstract
This article engages with the interplay of two-dimensional and three-dimensional wall decoration in Roman wall decoration of the so-called four Pompeian styles. Instead of describing the rapid changes in the use (or non-use) of techniques for creating perspectival depth in August Mau’s four [...] Read more.
This article engages with the interplay of two-dimensional and three-dimensional wall decoration in Roman wall decoration of the so-called four Pompeian styles. Instead of describing the rapid changes in the use (or non-use) of techniques for creating perspectival depth in August Mau’s four styles within an autonomous development of decorative principles, either favoring surface over depth, or vice versa, this article will discuss the imaginary space/surface on the walls in relation to the ‘real’ space enclosed by the decorated walls and—foremost—their inhabitants as the actual referent of the decoration. The discussion will focus on second-style wall decoration, with glimpses on the earlier first and later third and fourth styles in a final section. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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Open AccessArticle
Mixed-Media Domestic Ensembles in Roman Sicily: The House of Leda at Soluntum
Arts 2019, 8(2), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8020062 - 14 May 2019
Abstract
Built in the second to early-first century BCE, the House of Leda at Soluntum, a city on the northwest coast of Sicily, was renovated in the first century CE. The most prominent change to the residence was the inclusion of figural Fourth-Style wall [...] Read more.
Built in the second to early-first century BCE, the House of Leda at Soluntum, a city on the northwest coast of Sicily, was renovated in the first century CE. The most prominent change to the residence was the inclusion of figural Fourth-Style wall paintings in its dining room. The fresco ensemble reveals a particular interest in the painted depiction of stone, such as an image of Leda and the swan as a marble statue and trompe l’oeil blocks of colored marble and granite from around the Mediterranean. The house renovation was not wholesale since the owner also chose to preserve a number of decorative elements from the earlier, Hellenistic-era phase of the residence, including two sculptures, cut-limestone pavements, and an intricate mosaic of an astronomical instrument. In this article I argue that the tension created between the medium of paint, and its use to mimic marble and stone, resulted in a unified, mixed-media domestic ensemble. The viewer was encouraged to compare and contrast the faux marble and stone in the dining room’s Fourth-Style frescoes with the Hellenistic-era marble and stone artworks throughout the rest of the house. This juxtaposition of older and newer decorative elements reveals that the owner of the House of Leda positioned himself as both a member of the Roman provincial elite as well as a local benefactor and custodian of Sicily’s rich Hellenistic culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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Open AccessArticle
‘Eye-Like Radiance’: The Depiction of Gemstones in Roman Wall Painting
Arts 2019, 8(2), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8020060 - 09 May 2019
Abstract
The study of ornament in Greek and Roman art has been the focus of increasing scholarly interest over the last decade, with many publications shedding new light on the dynamics of ornatus in antiquity, and the discourses that shaped and situated it. Through [...] Read more.
The study of ornament in Greek and Roman art has been the focus of increasing scholarly interest over the last decade, with many publications shedding new light on the dynamics of ornatus in antiquity, and the discourses that shaped and situated it. Through an analysis of the depiction of gemstones in Roman wall painting, this article demonstrates the importance of ornamental details both to the mechanics of two-dimensional representation and to the interpretation of the images they adorned. I argue that by evoking the material qualities and sensual pleasures of real precious stones, painted gems served on the one hand to enhance the illusory reality of wall painting, and on the other to extol the delights of luxury and refinement—that is, of ornamentation itself. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
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