VISA 1P90 Oct. 3, 2011
1. A formal analysis is a specific type of visual description.
2. You are writing about what you see.
3. Ask yourself how the visual elements: forms, shapes, expressions, posture,
colors/shadows, lines, textures, technical aspects, and arrangement make meaning in
4. A formal analysis is not only a description but a description with interpretation or
5. You must have a thesis-your descriptive analysis must argue your thesis.
Refer to Barnet, “A Short Guide to Writing About Art” Chapter 3 pages 46-48.
Romans conquered Greeks, but thought of Greek art as superior to other lands.
Romans tended to copy original Greek works. Romans tended to use similar
architecture to the Greeks.
Etruscans established city around Florence. It is mysterious what the origin of these
people is. It is not clear that they came over land from another place. They were a
strong military society and able to defend boundaries until they fought the Romans.
Apollo, from the Temple of Minerva, Portenaccio, Veii, c. 510-500 BCE: Thought to be
sculpted by a man named Vulva, this is unconfirmed. This is certainly reminiscent of
Greek sculpture and the Archaic smile. The main difference between them is that he is
fully clothed. The Etruscans did not put sculptures in the pediment, it went on the roof
line. Stylized elements in the drapery and the hair. The pose is more dynamic than in
Greek sculptures. Terra cotta would give more possibilities than bronze or marble.
Etruscan burial chambers were like a home - pots, pans, etc. It was made to be very
Sarcophagus, from Cerveteri, c. 520 BCE: A center for Etruscan tombs. The Sarcophagi
seem real, everyday life. He has his arm around her, would have had a terra cotta glass
to have a drink. Could be a banquet for the deceased or a depiction of daily life.
Stylization of the hair, much like Egyptian art. Lower body is underdeveloped. The focus
is on the upper body. Greece tended to be a unified culture, whereas Rome was a
melting pot of different societies. 476 BCE was the fall of Rome.
Roman Republic: She-Wolf, c. 500 BCE with 15th-16th century additions (the twins): Very important for
early republic period. This is a bronze wolf which is significant to the Roman people,
they saw the wolf as a loyal and protective creature. The wolf has a nasty, protective
look, but her teats are hanging as if nursing offspring. Two twins are taken in by a she-
wolf, and they found the city of Rome. The twins were natural leaders, had a strong
force behind them. The she-wolf is the symbol to early Romans.
Denarius with portrait of Julius Caesar, 44 BCE: There was a tendency towards realism.
Movement towards a type of portraiture. Caesar was often depicted in this way, short
hair, older features. Often artists were payed to make waxed death masks. In terms of
coinage, this is a practice that really begins with Caesar. He would put his face on one
side, some kind of symbol on the other side. Caesar was a Roman general and he had
a lot of political power. He was assassinated by a group of senators trying to restore the
Republic. Republic was not restored, and later Augustus Caesar took control.
Patrician Carrying Two Portrait Busts of his Ancestors, End of 1st century BCE or
beginning of 1st century CE: The Romans really paid a lot of attention to their ancestors.
They would often show their ancestors to set their social status. It was never part of the
Greek tradition to use stock bodies. Typical Greek classical pose. Family likeness in the
stock bodies. Not original head, found without head and someone added a head,
carbon dating doesn’t add up.
Age of Augustus:
After the death of Julius Caesar, there was a period of unrest until Augustus Caesar
Augustus of Primaporta, early 1st century CE: It demonstrates a particular type of
political portrait. A very strong political message conveyed by the work. This sculpture
would have been taken from a stock body and the features would have been added.
Very much like sculpture Doryphorus with some minor changes. He was ruler for a long
period of time, but even in late years was depicted the same way. The right arm is raised
in a speaking gesture. The chest plate is carved with allegorical figures which display
victories he had accomplished. Small figure is Cupid (Venus’ son), shows that Augustus
had associated himself as Venus’ son, a demigod that has the right to rule.
Ara Pacis, Rome, 13-9 BCE: Commemorative architecture was very important,
celebrated victories. Here we have a combination of portraiture and allegory. The alter is
just visible inside the door, enclosed by the large marble frame. This type of alter
formation derives from Greek style. Detailed relief along the sides. Eluding to the fact
that people were prospering because there was no war. On the North & South sides
there is a precession of Augustus and his family, priests and virgi