I am taking a class from coursera.org (through Yale University), on Roman Architecture which I am finding very enlightening. I always have loved Greek architecture and thought this class would just add to that, I was surprised to have discovered something that was so interesting that I had to figure a way to do something with that new-found knowledge of decoration on walls of fancy villas.
I have seen gorgeous mosaics on floors and some walls, and fresco wall art in ancient Grecian & Italian sites, but the Romans took it to mathematical heights, and I mean great heights. Look at the height and detail in the wall with the maroon background on the top left and the white one in middle right here. I cannot imagine how long these walls and barreled ceilings took to paint, but read on and you will ask the same questions I did.
When I learned about the 4 different styles that were used over the years, I decided instead of writing a paper on designing a Roman City, that I would create a Children’s Museum exhibit to expose people to this wonderful art form.
Here are a few of the principles to creating the four different styles. You can see, they divided the walls into sections. (This art was done from around 10 BC to 79 AD). The 1st style is simple, they wanted to show that they had money but couldn’t afford to import marble, so they painted walls to look like it. They added columns and architectural features to look like windows with scenes and vistas behind them in the 2nd style. In the 3rd style, they finally realized that the walls were flat and painted them so! They added paintings in the center of panels, like a framed painting. The columns were not so massive but became skinny and decorative, they were no longer headed with the Greek capitols (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian). They used still life art and mythical people in the floating paintings. In the 4th style, they used all of the above and then some. They added cages to the top layer and had buildings and scenes within them, not like a panorama, but a painting within a frame.
I used four colors to identify each style with a wall mural showing different walls from various villas uncovered in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and well-preserved villas from the Roman Empire. What I also added was drafting tables so kids can draw buildings using real architect tools and I added a block area so they can build houses. I saw a fabulous paneled digital presentation on a wall at a fair recently and saw they can project multiple images on panels, so I included this (very expensive wall) above the block area so people can see Roman buildings and ancient dig sites.
I have updated my exhibit design by added the three column capitals to each table and using a slanted one the Romans used for the fourth table. The height will add grandeur to the whole exhibtion and I decided I could not leave out an archeological dig site showing the kids what the ruins looked like. So they will clear away dirt and unveil the ancient city underneath the photo of Mt Vesuvius.
(Click on any of the collages to enlarge them so you can see the details, then use the upper left arrow to go back to the blog.)
You can see the entire slide show on YouTube if you go to this link. Now I just have to find some museum who might be interested in hiring me to produce this! I think it is very exciting for every age. And if you can draw, it wouldn’t be too difficult to follow their patterns. (FYI: The YouTube version is not as updated as this one. Look at the map above for the changes.)