Italian art and painting
The history of Italian art is the art of Italy itself in time and space. After Etruscan civilization, and especially after the Roman Republic and Empire, which has held a dominant position in this part of the world for many centuries, Italy has taken center stage in European art during the Renaissance. Italy also demonstrated European artistic dominance in the 16th and 17th centuries thanks to the artistic direction of the Baroque. She regained her powerful presence in the international art scene since the mid-19th century thanks to such directions as macchioli, futurism, metaphysics, Novecento, specialism, arte povera and transavant-garde.
Italian art has influenced some major trends over the centuries, thanks to it many great creators appeared, including artists and sculptors. Today, Italy occupies an important place in the international art scene, there are several large art galleries, museums and exhibitions; significant centers of art of this country include its capital – Rome, as well as Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples, Turin and other cities.
Italian art and painting – “Triumph of Galatea” by Raphael
The Triumph of Galatea by Raphael
Etruscan bronze figures and terracotta funerary reliefs are examples of the powerful traditions of Central Italy, which had weakened by the time Rome began building its empire on this peninsula. The Etruscan paintings that have survived to our time are mainly wall murals from burials, mainly from Tarquinia. This is the most important example of Italian pre-Roman art, known to scholars.
The frescoes were painted using fresh plastering technique, so that when the plaster dries, the painting becomes part of the plaster and an integral part of the wall that helps it to survive so well (and indeed, almost all the preserved Etruscan and Roman paintings are represented only by frescoes). Colors were created from stones and minerals of different colors, which were ground and mixed with each other, small brushes were made from animal hair (even the best brushes were made from ox wool). From the middle of the 4th century BC The use of chiaroscuro to image depth and volume began. Sometimes scenes from everyday life are depicted, but most often these are traditional mythological scenes. The concept of proportion does not appear in any of the surviving frescoes, and we often find images of animals or people with some disproportionate parts of the body. One of the most famous Etruscan frescoes is the painting of the Tomb of the Lionesses in Tarquinia.
Rome under Emperor Constantine
Rome under Emperor Constantine, photo: Campus Martius, public domain
The Etruscans were responsible for the construction of the early monumental buildings of Rome. Roman temples and houses with great accuracy repeated Etruscan models. Elements of Etruscan influence on Roman temples included a podium and an emphasis on the facade to the detriment of the other three sides of the building. Large Etruscan houses were grouped around the central hall in much the same way that Roman large city houses were later built around the atrium. The influence of Etruscan architecture gradually waned during the republic due to influences (especially Greek) from other parts of the world. The architecture of the Etruscans fell under the influence of the Greeks, so when the Romans adopted the Greek styles, they did not become alien to their culture. In the days of the republic, probably, there was a constant development of architectural trends mainly from the Hellenistic world, but after the fall of Syracuse in 211 BC. Greek works of art poured into Rome. In the II century BC, the flow of these works and, more importantly, Greek masters continued to flow into Rome, having a decisive influence on the development of Roman architecture. Towards the end of the republic, when Vitruvius wrote his scientific work on architecture, the Greek theory of architecture and examples of architectural work prevailed over everything else.
As the empire expanded, Roman architecture spread over large areas, it was used to create both public buildings and some large private buildings. In many areas, elements of style, especially jewelry, were influenced by local tastes, but the architecture remained recognizably Roman. The styles of local architecture have, to one degree or another, come under the influence of Roman architecture, and in many regions Roman and local elements are found in combination in the same building.
By the 1st century AD, Rome became the largest and most developed city in the whole world. The ancient Romans came up with new technologies to improve the sanitary control systems of the city, roads and buildings. They developed a system of aqueducts that delivered fresh water to the city through pipes and built a sewage system that removed the city’s waste. The richest Romans lived in large houses with gardens. Most of the population, however, lived in apartment buildings made of stone, concrete or limestone.