Roman Art in the Private Sphere: New Perspectives on the Arquitecture and Decor of the Domus, Villa, and Insula

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Elaine K. Gazda, Anne E. Haeckl
University of Mich. Press, 1991 - Art - 156 pages
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Roman Art in the Private Sphere presents an impressive case for the social and art historical importance of the paintings, mosaics, and sculptures that filled the private houses of the Roman elite. The six essays in this volume range from the first century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E., and from the Italian peninsula to the Eastern Empire and North African provinces.
The essays treat works of art that belonged to every major Roman housing type: the single-family atrium houses and the insula apartment blocks in Italian cities, the dramatically sited villas of the Campanian coast and countryside, and the palatial mansions of late antique provincial aristocrats.
In a complementary fashion the essays consider domestic art in relation to questions of decorum, status, wealth, social privilege, and obligation. Patrons emerge as actively interested in the character of their surroundings; artists appear as responsive to the desire of their patrons. The evidence in private art of homosexual conduct in high society is also set forth.
Originality of subject matter, sophisticated appreciation of stylistic and compositional nuance, and philosophical perceptions of the relationship of humanity and nature are among the themes that the essays explore. Together they demonstrate that Roman domestic art must be viewed on its own terms.
"This is a stimulating book and should be compulsory reading for all students of Roman art."--Classical Review
"For all the authors, attention to the ensemble, a sense of the relation between the formal and the iconographic, and the desire to historicize their material contribute to making this anthology unusual in its rigorous and creative attention to the way that art and architecture participate in the construction of the image of the Roman elite." --Art Bulletin
Elaine K. Gazda is Director of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan and Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology in the Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan.

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About the author (1991)

Gazda is Professor in the Department of the History of Art and the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Michigan.

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