A Look At Roman Imperial Portraiture

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Portraits of Vespasian and Trajan: A Look at Roman Imperial Portraiture

The Roman tradition of art, particularly architecture and sculpture is rooted in adopting styles of the past to convey a particular message. The combination of Greek and Etruscan styles, such as in the Temple of Portunus in Rome, ultimately culminate to reference a new meaning and style that is independently roman. Similarly to architecture, the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, chose to liken both is architecture, by using stone and the orders, and his portraiture back to the Greeks. Romans emperors ultimately tend to use style association to portray propaganda for their particular platform, as a form of associative mass media. Two emperors that exemplify this
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The depth of such wrinkles as well as the deep set and hooded eyes allow for a stark contrast within the lighting of the piece, further emphasizing the importance of such areas. Furthermore, Vespasian chooses to depict himself as bald, or at least balding. While other emperors, such as Vespasian 's successors, will choose to falsify a head of hair in order to capture some ideal of the self, Vespasian chooses to keep some of his key features in order to preserve and distribute his identity, all while hyper-emphasizing his age.

Through his efforts of individualization and emphasizing his age, Vespasian ultimately directly references the old versitic style of the Roman republic in order to present himself as a common, hardworking man and politician. The traditional Roman Republican style of portraiture has been nicknames "veristic" or truth-like. Its name stems from the apparent hyper- "realistic" portrayal of its subjects. When looking at a single republican portrait, it appears to be individualized and puts emphasis on the physical effects of age upon the body, much like Vespasian 's portrait. However, the distinction between "realistic" and "veristic" is important. While the republican portraiture style seems to be realistic and individualized when viewing one of them, it is in collective view of these portraits that one can see the commonality between them, and see these attributes create a new idea: an ideal of
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