The Artists of the Ara Pacis: The Process of Hellenization in Roman Relief Sculpture

The Artists of the Ara Pacis: The Process of Hellenization in Roman Relief Sculpture

by Diane Atnally Conlin


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The Ara Pacis Augustae, or Altar of Augustan Peace, was built to commemorate the return to Rome of the emperor Augustus and his general Agrippa, who had been away for many years on military campaigns. Dedicated in 9 B.C., the monument consists of an altar and surrounding wall, both decorated with a series of processional friezes. Art historians and archaeologists have made the Ara Pacis one of the best-known, most-studied monuments of Augustan Rome, but Diane Conlin's reassessment of the artistic traditions in which its sculptors worked makes a groundbreaking contribution to this scholarship. Illustrated with over 250 photographs, Conlin's innovative analysis demonstrates that the carvers of the monument's large processional friezes were not Greek masters, as previously assumed, but Italian-trained sculptors influenced by both native and Hellenic stonecarving practices. Her systematic examination of the physical evidence left by the sculptors themselves—the traces of tool marks, the carving of specific details, the compositional formulas of the friezes—also incorporates an informed understanding of the historical context in which these artists worked.

Originally published in 1997.

A UNC Press Enduring Edition — UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807868997
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/01/2011
Series: Studies in the History of Greece and Rome
Edition description: 1
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Diane Atnally Conlin received her Ph.D. in classical art and archaeology from the University of Michigan. A fellow of the American Academy in Rome, she has taught Roman art and archaeology at the University of Michigan.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

The quality of Conlin's observations is outstanding, and much will be of great assistance to students of stone-carving in Augustan Rome.—Times Literary Supplement

This lavishly illustrated study represents an important contribution to our understanding of the production of Roman sculpture."American Journal of Archaeology

[This book] will inspire others to take a second look at other Hellenizing sculptures, and actually demonstrates what has only before been assumed.—Bryn Mawr Classical Review

[Conlin] provides an historiographic context for the Ara Pacis and allows us to see what kinds of artists were responsible for carving it. Nothing like this has been attempted before, and the book constitutes a major advance in the study of ancient sculpture. The photographic documentation is invaluable: most of the shots have never been published before, and the reader feels as if he/she is seeing a familiar monument for the first time.—C. Brian Rose, University of Cincinnati

A meticulous analysis of the sculpting of Rome's Ara Pacis Augustae. . . . Essential reading for students of Roman art and sculpture of any period.—History: Reviews of New Books

Conlin repeatedly demonstrates how a fresh approach can tease new meanings from even an exhaustively studied monument. . . . An advocate of 'close looking,' Conlin will inspire students to mine the surviving visual evidence for a deeper understanding of antiquity.—Classical World

An important and intelligent contribution to our knowledge about the Ara Pacis and the practice of Roman sculptors in general. . . . [Conlin] has taken a much needed closer look at an artistic hallmark of the Augustan age and initiated us into one of its basic characteristics.—Classical Journal

Conlin's exceptionally observant eye looks at the hardest of facts, the material traces of sculptural facture, in order to infer the artistic pedigree and aims of the sculptors who helped found the significant Imperial genres of monumental architectural relief. Even if their names are permanently irrecoverable, in Conlin's work those gifted makers gain for the first time a solidly reconstructed cultural identity: Italians, who consciously strove to fuse inherited Republican design traditions with artisanal practices selected from the Greek East.—Ann Kuttner, University of Pennsylvania

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