Visual Art in Rome Essay Sample

Visual Art in Rome

Rome can be proud of rich collection of the most magnificent pieces of visual art. These pieces of art range from paintings, drawings, sculptures and pottery. Every work of art has a distinct symbolism depending on the era in which it was created. Ancient art and Renaissance art represent a wide disparity. Consequently, this essay will discuss two paintings, one from the Ancient era and the other from the Renaissance age. I will use the painting of the Pompeian women to describe visual art in the Ancient period in Rome. To represent the Renaissance period, I will use the painting of Galatea.

The painting of the Pompeian women was made on a brick wall inside a house (Perry, 2011). This is evident by the cracks on the left side of the painting. This Ancient Roman fresco, which shows Omphale who was the Lydian queen, was taken from the House of the Prince of Montenegro. The painting was created during the reign of Emperor Augustus. The queen is seated while her two servants are standing by her side. The painting is famously known as “Women of Pompeii”. The ancient painting is very popular even among modern art lovers.

“Triumph of Galatea” is a world famous piece of art. It is a beautiful painting created in the Renaissance era that dates back to the 16th century. The painting is based on mythical stories. The painting of Galatea depicts a scene in the fictional love story. It shows small people with bows and arrows trying to kill other people. The killers are high up in the air while those being pursued are on the ground. The famous piece of art was painted by Raphael in the year 1512. The style of the painting embodies High Renaissance while the technique is fresco. The painting’s genre reveals mythological theme. Raphael’s intention while painting Galatea was to depict her as a perfect representation of woman.

Because of the colors the painter used, it is evident that this painting was done in the Ancient era. Dull colors that do not attract attention are characteristic of Ancient paintings. This painting represents true events in the history of Greek Kingdoms. The oeuvre is characterized by the use of grey, cream green and pale yellow colors (Zanker, 2010). These shades give the painting a dull mood. This means that during the time when the painting was created, there were pain and sorrow. The background of the painting is grey. This tells that the household was undergoing a rough patch. The clothes the queen and her servants are wearing are also murky-colored. This symbolizes mourning and sadness. The texture of the painting can also tell the viewer about the prevailing mood in that epoch. The painting was done in a rough texture. The rough texture gives the painting blurred clarity. It evokes the feel that there is prevailing distress.

In the foreground of the painting are three women. The woman in a grey robe at the middle of the painting is Omphale, the queen. On the right and left, there are two servants. The three women seem to be disturbed. The queen’s face is filled with sorrow; the servant on her right side is holding her chin in deep thought. The queen and the servants are deeply immersed in their thoughts. Their faces show profound pain (Perry, 2011). The queen’s admirer is holding her hand. In the Ancient era, servants did everything for the queen including fanning her. The fact that the queen has a fan holding her hand is rather unusual. The servant behind the queen is patting her mistress probably as a way of comforting her. It can be assumed that the queen and the servants are trying to find solutions for the problems they are facing.

Description of the Painting of Galatea by Raphael

This painting was done in the Renaissance era as symbolized by the bright colors. The sharp images are also a characteristic of Renaissance paintings. The texture of the painting is very fine and smooth, which identifies the presence of better art tools. The painting is based on a Greek mythology. Raphael painted “Triumph of Galatea” to illustrate an event in the Greek legend. The background of the painting is blue since it shows the skies. The top half of the painting illustrates Cupids who are flying with the aid of wings on their backs (D'Ambrosio, 2001). The flying figures are holding bows and arrows in their hands ready to attack those on the ground. At the bottom of the painting, there are sea creatures looking up at the sky, as well as Triton who tries to abduct a young nymph. Some of the creatures are probably trying to see what intention the flying Cupids have.

The centerpiece of this picture is a beautiful Nereid in a red robe. She seems to be running away from the attackers. She is riding on a huge seashell that is being pulled by two black dolphins. The red robe Galatea is wearing represents love, passion and boldness. She is the only one fleeing from the pursuant. This illustrates the viewer that she is a figure of importance. An artist decided to paint a red robe to ensure that the viewers’ attention is concentrated on the main heroine. Raphael used an eye-catching color to differentiate the painting’s main element from the rest personages in this piece of art. The beings that look like half sea creatures and half human symbolize fictional conception of the painting.

Contrasting and Comparing the Paintings

The painting of the queen of Lydia and that of Galatea are very distinct. The first distinction emanates from the periods in which the paintings were created. “Women of Pompeii” was painted in the Ancient era while “Triumph of Galatea” was done in the Renaissance period. The textures of the paintings are fundamental features due to which the age of these oeuvres can be estimated. The rough texture of “Women of Pompeii” shows that the tools used were primitive (Littleton, 2005). Simple tools are a characteristic of Ancient era. The painting of Galatea has a smooth texture, which shows that Rafael employed sophisticated tools. The colors used for the painting can also help estimate an epoch in which a painting was made. Bold and bright colors are elements of the Renaissance. Dull colors symbolize primeval age. The surface on which the painting was done can depict the paintings’ era as well. Ancient paintings were done on either wooden or brick walls of houses. Renaissance paintings were done on the canvas for easier preservation.

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The central figures of the two pieces of art are women; however, the circumstances under which the paintings were done are different. In the painting, which represents queen of Lydia and her servants, the women seem to be defeated. Galatea’s painting shows the triumph of the woman. The painter of Galatea, Raphael, had an intention of portraying the woman as a victor. However, the Pompeian women painter depicted main heroines as vulnerable beings. The mood of the painting is sad, which tells the viewer that women are highly vulnerable. The different perceptive put forward by the artist show their perception and mind-set regarding women (Freedman, 2011). Raphael had a high opinion about women while the painter of Pompeian women treated women from totally different perspective.

As it has been already understood, the two paintings have dissimilar meanings. The painting of the queen and her servants represents a time of distress for the empress. The sadness on the faces of servants and the queen tells the viewer that the painting was done at a time of difficulty. The painting of Galatea illustrates a challenging time but an opportune solution can be found to the problem. The illustration of the woman escaping a dangerous scene shows there is a victory at the end of suffering. The painting of Galatea has two famous versions. The concept is the same, but the placing of the painting’s features is different. The only difference between these pictures is the arrangement of characters.


Visual art is an integral part of Roman and Greek artworks. The two countries offer a wide range of magnificent pieces of art. Artwork is divided into various epochs with each age having different characteristics. Ancient art is characterized by rough images while images in the Renaissance era have great clarity. To sum up, two paintings from diverse periods have been discussed in this paper. The painting of Galatea represents Renaissance and clearly shows the use of refined tools. The Pompeian woman painting is a brilliant example of art in ancient times. The color, texture and images of the painting tell the viewer a lot about its purpose. It is possible to deduct circumstances under which the painting was done. The two paintings have a similarity in that they both focus on portrayal of women. The two artists had a message to relay to the viewer about their attitude towards women. The paintings capture different events in two separate ages. Moreover, Raphael’s oeuvre has two main versions that are closely alike. Visual art has over the centuries presented an effective way of preserving the world’s history.

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