This course will present the surviving evidence for a wide range of pictorial representations in ancient Italy. It will include a sampling of the surviving paintings from Etruscan tombs; the earliest pictorial remains from the city of Rome itself; the elaborate suites of painted rooms found in the houses of Pompeii and Herculaneum on the Bay of Naples; and will touch on Roman mosaics—‘paintings in stone’—from Italy, North Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean. Some topics to be considered: the Etruscan contribution or legacy to Roman painting; the funerary and non funerary themes found in Etruscan tomb painting; the ‘four styles’ of Pompeian interior decoration; the surviving paintings of the Domus Aurea, the emperor Nero’s gigantic ‘Golden House’ in Rome; the painting of marble statues and reliefs; and finally the brilliantly colored mummy portraits preserved by the sands of the Egyptian desert. What role did painting play in Etruscan and Roman life? How “public” were the tomb paintings of the Etruscans and how do their narratives act as picture books of daily life? What paintings were available for Romans to see when they took over Etruscan cities and cemeteries? And more importantly, what innovations, conventions, and subject matter were adopted (or not) by the Romans? What sort of paintings do we hear about in the writings of Latin authors? What kinds of pictures were set up as votives in Roman and public spaces? What designs and subjects did ordinary Romans choose to have painted on the walls of their homes, their villas, and their tombs? And finally, what do these paintings tell us about the lives of the people of ancient Italy.
Prerequisites: None. This course is taught in English with readings in English.