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Painting in Antiquity

Frescoes in Antiquity
Painted grave stelai in Antiquity

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Fresco from Boscoreale
Fresco from the house of Fannius Sinistor at Boscoreale, showing members of the Antigonid family (Antigonos Gonatas and Phila) or personifications of Syria and Macedonia, circa mid-1st century BC, Naples, Italy, Museo Archeologico Nationale.

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Fresco from Boscoreale
Circa mid-1st century BC

The absence of original paintings of the Classical and Hellenistic periods was compensated by the discovery of works which had survived in subterranean edifices. In this way the frescoes of burial monuments were added to the copies made in Roman times to acquaint us with notable Greek painting.

In close relation to their contemporary art forms of painted pottery and mosaic, the depictions stand out from their surroundings in either lively animation (Kyane, e.g.) or serene poses ("Rhadamanthys",e.g.); they represent mythological subjects with plasticity and delicate chiaroscuro shading ("The Abduction of Persephone"), or historical events (e.g. battle of Issos) exalting the personality of Macedonian rulers, or reproduce the stucco or stonework of walls (Amphipolis).

In the Roman period many subjects were copied for the adornment of houses in Italy, from which we can deduce the extent to which the development of 'Pompeian styles' was influenced by Hellenistic painting.

See Also
Civilization - Mosaics in Antiquity
Ceramics in Antiquity
Travelling - Aigai (Vergina)

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.