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Les arts de la couleur en Grèce ancienne… et ailleurs

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Philippe Jockey

Rôles, valeurs et symboles des couleurs et de l’or

Reflections on Colour Coding in Roman Art

Réflexions sur la codification des couleurs dans l’art romain

Σκέψεις στην κωδικοποίηση των χρωμάτων στη ρωμαϊκή τέχνη

Paolo Liverani

Résumé

L’intérêt croissant pour l’usage de la couleur sur la pierre a offert une nouvelle vision de l’art romain ; mais pour l’heure on dispose plus de questions que de réponses. Cette situation est due à la rareté des restes de pigments sur les sculptures antiques, à la prédominance, dans les générations antérieures, d’un goût néoclassique et à une quantité encore insuffisante de données au demeurant obtenues par recours à des méthodes différentes. Une situation aussi difficile complique d’autant plus l’interprétation approfondie de tels témoignages. On constate, pour l’époque romaine, des choix différents dans l’usage de la couleur qui peuvent s’expliquer seulement en partie par des motivations naturalistes, par la chronologie ou par le niveau de la commande. Toutefois, en se fondant sur de premiers résultats, on peut explorer au moins quelques-unes des fonctions fondamentales de la couleur. Certaines sont purement intuitives et sont déterminées par l’exigence d’une information patente en relation avec le sujet ou avec la narration représentée dans un contexte spécifique. D’autres sont plus subtiles et semblent liées à des règles générales ainsi qu’aux fonctions du langage iconographique, en d’autres termes à des conventions en cours depuis longtemps et dont l’évolution est extrêmement lente.

Note de l’éditeur

I am indebted to Bernard Frischer for translating this paper into English and to Michael Koorbotijan for discussions and further refinements.

Texte intégral

1The theme chosen for this paper is rather ambitious. Indeed, it is not possible to make definite claims about colour coding in the Roman imperial period, a field of which study has just commenced. Therefore, I will have to limit myself to some preliminary notes, which may help us to give a wider context to the results of the first systematic observations about the monuments.

  • 1 Xenophanes, frg. 32 (Diels-Kranz); Arist., Mete. 371b 32, 374b 30; Aet., III.5.6-9 (ed. Diels 1879) (...)

2Let us begin with the rainbow (table 1): the ancient Greek writers are not in agreement about its number of colours. According to Xenophanes, there were three, or four for Aristotle and Aetius. In contrast, the Latin authors seem to be more precise: Seneca was able to catalogue five and Ammianus Marcellinus lists six, a number that survived through the Middle Ages and down to the present day.1 Only with Newton was the number of seven colours reached, but for reasons that were perhaps more numerological than scientific. To these, we must of course add black and white, which Newton did not count as colours.

  • 2 J. André, Étude sur les termes de couleur dans la langue latine, Études et commentaires VII (1949), (...)
  • 3 W. E. Gladstone, Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age III (1858), pp. 458-499; H. Magnus, Die Gesch (...)
  • 4 M. Pastoureau, Bleu. Histoire d’une couleur (2002). Similar ideas in other studies by the same auth (...)
  • 5 J. and Ch. Cotte, “La guéde dans l’Antiquité”, REA 21 (1919), pp. 43-57.
  • 6 A. Cameron, Circus Factions. Blues and Green at Rome and Byzantium (1976).

3This table2 is useful for some initial observations. Let us pass over the old theories of the 19th century, which claimed that the ancients suffered from colour blindness to blue.3 More recently, even Pastoureau –a scholar whose work on later periods is of extraordinary interest– has tended to re-propose a sort of modern version of the old theory. For Pastoureau, blue was supposedly very clearly visible to the Greeks and Romans, but was of no importance and even had connotations of being a “barbaric” colour.4 According to the French scholar, blue was only “discovered” in the 12th century, “launched” at first by the kings of France and subsequently popular for its association with the cult of the Virgin Mary. Finally, it was consecrated by the Protestant Reformation. Pastoureau derives this theory from his investigations of colours and of the techniques of the dyers of woven cloth, effectively limited to woad,5 a vegetal dye that was inexpensive but not bright, and to indigo, a pigment that was rather better but more expensive because it had to be imported from India. But Pastoureau forgets the great importance of blue in the circus games: here, the principal factions were precisely the Blues and the Greens (factiones Veneta et Prasina).6

Table I — The colours of the rainbow according to the classical authors.

(From J. André [n. 2], p. 13)

Fig. 1 — Scheme with the various colours of the Roman toga.

(Illustration: P. Liverani)

  • 7 In the meaning intended by B. Berlin, P. Kay, Basic Colour Terms. Their Universality and Evolution (...)
  • 8 Livida, glaucus, caesius, cyaneus, venetus and aeri (n) us. See J. André (n. 2), pp. 162-183: caesi (...)
  • 9 For positive connotations of green see J. Trinquier, “Confusis oculis prosunt uirentia (Sénèque, De (...)
  • 10 Verg., Aen. 3.64, see also CIL XI 1420 (sacrifice to the Dii Manes of bosque et ovis atri infulis c (...)
  • 11 In Serv., Aen. 3.64: Cato ait, deposita veste purpurea feminas usas caerulea cum lugerent. See also (...)
  • 12 In a more generic manner Eus., ep. 22.27 considers the vestis pulla of a penitent as opposite to th (...)
  • 13 For the flammeum, also the official dress of the Flaminica Dialis, see Plin., nat. 21.46; Mart., 11 (...)
  • 14 C. Robotti, “I mosaici del Museo Campano di Capua”, in H. Morlier (ed.), La mosaïque gréco-romaine, (...)
  • 15 Verg., Aen. 7.346; see also 4.482 (serpents in the hair of the Eumenides).
  • 16 Verg., Aen. 3.432.
  • 17 Verg., Aen. 6.410.

4Moreover, Latin knows no fewer than seven terms for “blue”: the basic7 caerul (e) us and six different tones,8 which would seem rather excessive for a supposedly insignificant colour. It is true that blue did not have a primary role in Roman clothing because, aside from the sporting context, it was normally associated with the colours of mourning, grey and black.9 Virgil10 cites the caeruleae vittae, fillets of a blue that was probably very dark, which decorated the altars of the Manes, while Cato11 attests that the gown of female mourning was caeruleus, contrasted with reddish purple, which had festive and elegant connotations12 suitable for bridal gowns.13 We can perhaps also imagine that the chorus of boys which appears in a wall mosaic14 that may be of the 1st century, from the area around the Temple of Diana Tifatina at Capua, was dressed in blue tunics because of the various chthonic and nocturnal connections of this goddess. Caeruleus also has underworld or, at any rate, negative connotations when it used to describe the hair of Alecto,15 the dogs of Scylla,16 and the boat of Charon.17 But the principal problem with Pastoureau’s devaluation of blue is his decision to neglect completely the evidence of ancient architecture and the figurative arts, where blue was extensively used. But I will return to this topic in a moment.

5Not all the colours which dyers could create were bearers of clearly identifiable meanings. Women’s clothes –as happens in general in western societies– displayed a greater variety of colours than men’s, which were more strongly coded, especially in the case of official garments. For reasons of space, I will examine only the latter.

  • 18 J. André (n. 2), pp. 298-296, collects the chromatic terminology concerning garments.
  • 19 Ov., fast. 4.619-620: alba decent Cererem: vestes Cerialibus albas / sumite; nunc pulli velleris us (...)
  • 20 Liv., 45.7; Vell. Pat., 2.80.4; Ov., ars 3.189; Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Commodus 16.6.
  • 21 Cic., Vat. 30-32; CIL XI, 1420; AE 1989, 408; Artem., onirocr. 2.3: οἱ τοὺς ἀποθνήσκοντας πενθοῦνψε (...)

6The Romans knew a sort of “zero degree” of colour, which is that of the natural fabric or yarn,18 of which the colour oscillated between the tones of more or less dark grey. While this colour was used for work clothes and was abandoned on holidays in favour of white,19 it otherwise had connotations of mourning,20 as in the case of the toga pulla (fig. 1).21

  • 22 The same observation is valid for the black in the pair ater/niger.
  • 23 The readings of the sources proposed by S. Stone, “The Toga: From National to Ceremonial Costume”, (...)
  • 24 Goette 1990, pp. 5-6 with bibliography. In this case the fabric was artificially whitened: Isidorus (...)

7By contrast, white was the colour of festivals and of solemnity, but in particular the toga, the official Roman garment, was always described as candida, a sort of semantic superlative which emphasises the luminosity of the colour, and never as alba, an adjective which implies a certain opacity.22 The toga candida was also called pura23 or virilis, insofar as it was assumed when a male reached adulthood. Finally, the toga candida signalled “candidacy” in the modern, English sense of the term, of running for political office.24

  • 25 B. Berlin, P. Kay, Basic Color Terms. Their Universality and Evolution (1991) (1st ed. 1969); P. Ka (...)
  • 26 M. Sahlins, “Colours and Cultures”, Semiotica 16 (1976), pp. 1-22; R. Jakobson, L. R. Waugh, La for (...)

8Black and white are present in all known languages, even in those with a poor chromatic lexicon, but ethno-linguistic research has shown that when a language possesses only three terms for colours the third is always red.25 The linguistic emergence of red corresponds to the emergence of colour itself:26 red is not simply another hue next to black and white. Rather, it is distinguished from the pair black/white in the way that chromatism is distinct from luminosity.

  • 27 One further reason for this is obviously the great diffusion of red natural pigments as e.g. ochre.
  • 28 Goette 1990, pp. 5-6.
  • 29 J. Lynn Sebesta (n. 13), p. 47, explains this by reference to the apotropaic power of the red band.
  • 30 The entry of Festus (272.13) is unfortunately corrupted and fragmentary: <Praetexta pulla nulli> ali licebat uti, qu<a>m <ei qui funus faciebat> ---</ei></a></Praetexta> (...)

9Latin, too, uses red as a chromatically privileged marker.27 Thus, beyond the toga pulla and the toga candida we have different types of togas indicated by the presence of red colouring.28 First and foremost is the toga praetexta, which was white but bordered with a stripe of red. The toga praetexta signalled two opposing conditions: on the one hand that of being a boy, on the other, a magistrate.29 In this sense, pure white is the medium grade between not yet being an adult and being a person shown to be “more than adult” from the point of view of civic responsibility. The stripe of the border functioned as a diacritical sign and was used in other cases as well. There was probably also a praetexta pulla for magistrates attending funerals.30

  • 31 Fest., 228 L: picta quae nunc toga dicitur, purpurea ante vocitata est, eaque erat sine pictura. ei (...)
  • 32 (Toga) palmata: Serv., Aen. 334 (palmata dicitur toga quam merebantur hi qui reportassent de hostib (...)
  • 33 Verg., Aen. 7.612. According to a scholium of the Codex Turonensis, this toga was also worn when de (...)
  • 34 Serv., Aen. 7.612: IPSE QVIRINALI TRABEA Suetonius in libro de genere vestium dicit tria genera ess (...)
  • 35 Probably in the archaic and middle-republican ages; from the 3rd century BC these priests also chos (...)
  • 36 See also Isidorus, origines 19.24.8; Serv., Aen. 7.188. On this issue H. Gabelmann (n. 33), pp. 322 (...)
  • 37 Dion. Hal., 6.13.4.
  • 38 Dion. Hal., 2.70.2, with the discussion of the passage in H. Gabelmann (n. 33), pp. 327-328. Probab (...)
  • 39 Verg., Aen. 3.403-409. See also Artem., onirocr. 2.3: ποικίλην δὲ ἐσθῆτα ἕχειν ἢ ἁλουργίδα ἱερεῦσιν (...)

10Moreover, there was the toga purpurea, which was later called the toga picta31 or palmata.32 It was an emblem of the triumphator, but it was also worn by the consuls on particular occasions.33 Suetonius34 gives us some more systematic details about the trabea, which in the imperial period was not easily distinguishable from the toga except for the coloured stripes on its border (that is, its trabes). There were three kinds of trabea: the first was consecrated to the gods and was only purple; the second for the kings was purple but with some white, which probably made it a kind of praetexta with inverted colours; the third was for the augurs,35 marked by purple and scarlet,36 and was probably a purple garment with a scarlet border. This third type of trabea was also used by the equites during the annual transvectio equitum held on July 15th.37 It was also worn by the priests known as the Salii.38 The priestly connotations of the toga of this colour were attributed by Virgil to Aeneas himself, who sacrifices with his head covered with purple.39

  • 40 R. Delbrück, Antike Porphyrwerke (1932), pp. 49, 54-58, 96-100.
  • 41 Goette 1990, pp. 172-175, list K III-V; add also a togate statue from Formia: B. Conticello, Antiqu (...)
  • 42 MNAT 7584: E. M. Koppel, Die römischen Skulpturen von Tarraco, Madrider Forschungen 15 (1985), pp.  (...)
  • 43 Thanks to the kindness and helpfulness of the director of the Museum, Dr Francesc Tarrats, in Janua (...)

11Very little figural documentation of the colours of these togas has so far been found. Aside from the togas sculpted in porphyry,40 we have representations of men wearing the toga praetexta in frescoes, mosaics, and on gold glass.41 To these examples I would like to add a headless togate statue in the Museum of Tarragona (figs. 2-6).42 Its dimensions are bigger than normal, and they are also larger than those of all the other statues found in the town’s theatre. For this reason, its identification as a posthumous portrait of Augustus has been proposed. But what is most striking about this statue are the abundant traces over the entire surface of the toga of a vivid red, in some places rather thick, extending over a preparatory layer of white.43 Apparently, we have here a toga picta: the hypothesis that this is a portrait of Augustus is certainly very attractive in this context and suggests that in future other togati should be examined with greater attention, in order to find other possible traces of red that may permit us to verify and perfect the typology which the sources present.

12In sum, we have a “zero degree” (the toga pulla) and a normal or festive degree (the toga candida) articulated with the praetexta on three increasing levels of civic responsibility. Finally, we have a superlative degree, the toga picta with sacred connotations, which probably evolved over time. This type, too, is scaled on three levels, from a white border to a scarlet border.

  • 44 Val. Max., 1.6. 11: pullum ei traditum est paludamentum, cum in proelium exeuntibus album aut purpu (...)
  • 45 Amm., 14.11.20.
  • 46 Iust., 20.3.8; Plin., nat. 22.3: coccum imperatoriis dicatum paludamentis; Lyd., mag. 2.4: παλουδαμ (...)
  • 47 Val. Max., 1.8.8 mentions the paludamentum of the divus Caesar, who appeared to Cassius during the (...)
  • 48 Oros., Hist. 6.18.32: Lepidus […] deposito paludamento assumptaque veste pulla supplex Caesaris fac (...)

13Just as the toga is characteristic of the civic realm, so, too, is the paludamentum (fig. 7) of the military. In this case we also find the same chromatic tripartition, which is explained most clearly by Valerius Maximus,44 when he narrates an unfavourable omen for Crassus while he prepared for the battle of Carrhae. Instead of the usual white (album) or purple mantle, he was brought one of a dark colour (pullum) –it was thus a sign of mourning, and unlucky. It is legitimate to suspect that the commune paludamentum,45 in which Gallus had been dressed before he was killed by order of Constantius the Second, was also of a dark colour. Better attested in military contexts is the paludamentum coccineum46 or purpureum,47 a sign of imperium. The clear opposition recorded by Paulus Orosius between the paludamentum, a sign of command, and the generic vestis pulla, characteristic of the petitioner,48 is also interesting: these were two forms of garment which delimited the semantic extremes of the political code in the field of clothing.

Fig. 2 — Togate statue, Tarragona MNAT 7584.

(Photo: P. Liverani)

Fig. 3 — Detail of fig. 2.

(Photo: P. Liverani)

Fig. 4 — Detail of fig. 2.

(Photo: P. Liverani)

Fig. 5 — Togate statue, Tarragona MNAT 7584, rear side.

(Photo: P. Liverani)

Fig. 6 — Detail of fig. 5.

(Photo: P. Liverani)

Fig. 7 — Paludamentum pullum, album, purpureum.

(Illustration: P. Liverani)

  • 49 Ps.-Aur. Vict., epit. de caes. 3.9.
  • 50 Plin., nat. 33.63, but Tac., ann. 12.56.3 refers more properly to a chlamys aurata. See also the ne (...)
  • 51 P. Liverani, “Die Polychromie des Augustus von Prima Porta, vorläufiger Bericht”, in G. Zimmer (ed. (...)
  • 52 B. Freyer-Schauenburg, “Die Statue des Trajan auf Samos”, AM 117 (2002), pp. 257-298; ead., “Die St (...)
  • 53 I merely mention that something similar was the case for other military garments too: we know, for (...)

14Here we might recall the rather exceptional case, presented in implicitly negative terms, of a paludamentum aureum worn by Caligula49 outside the ritual of the triumph. A similar accusation is made against Agrippina, who supposedly wore a paludamentum woven only from gilt threads when she and Claudius presided over a mock naval battle in the Fucine Lake during the inauguration of the drainage channel.50 Moreover, I was able to identify traces of red paint on the paludamentum of the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta (fig. 8),51 and one might also recall the case of the Trajan of Samos,52 but I will not take the time here to review examples that are well known.53

Fig. 8 — Reconstruction of the polychromy of the Prima Porta Augustus, plaster cast, Vatican Museum.

(Photo: Vatican Museum, Rome)

  • 54 Plin., nat. 33.63 mentions the triumphal tunic of king Tarquinius Priscus, who had a bad reputation (...)
  • 55 Amm., 23.3.2.

15In sum, the male dress code, both for civil and military occasions, seems principally to have been based on this tripartition: a dark colour, white, and red. Gold on a garment was seen as a sort of superlative, more appropriate for the gods than the living.54 As the examples of Caligula and Agrippina show, gold was unacceptable unless employed on ritual occasions, and this is confirmed by the case of the inept figure of Procopius who, when Julian died, tried in vain to take over his position. Not finding the paludamentum purpureum, however, which the emperor had secretly delivered to him, he dressed himself in a tunica auro distincta and with other accessories, which simply made him appear to be a slave who frequented a paedagogium, or even an actor.55

  • 56 E. Kirschbaum, “L’angelo rosso e l’angelo turchino”, RAC 17 (1940), pp. 209-248.

16The colour codes described thus far are linked to art only in a generic way, but it is clear that it will be necessary to take account of them when we interpret figural work. On the other hand, a work of art can also be analysed as an autonomous system, in which the significance of the colours acquires particular emphasis from internal oppositions. For the sake of brevity, I will give just one example: the colour of the wings of angels on some early Christian mosaic cycles of the 5th and 6th centuries, where we note a chromatic opposition between angels with red wings and those with blue. Long ago, E. Kirschbaum56 recognised the positive connotations of the former and the negative of the latter both on the arch of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome (434-440) (fig. 9) and in the cycle of the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna (540-548).

  • 57 See E. La Rocca, Lo spazio negato (2008) about the background and treatment of the space in ancient (...)
  • 58 E. Walter-Karydi, “Prinzipien der archaischen Farbgebung”, in K. Braun, A. Furtwängler (eds), Studi (...)
  • 59 Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 103-133, pll. 26-43.

17It is, however, necessary at this point to emphasise that this approach is insufficient to explain in exhaustive detail the meaning of colour in a work of art. Here, too, I limit myself to just one example, which is particularly important and which I have recently begun to pursue in depth: the question of the colour on the background of reliefs and friezes, especially in architectonic contexts. If we applied mechanically the symbology described above, we would find ourselves in serious difficulty when trying to explain the omnipresence of the colour blue on the backgrounds. It is indeed not possible to attribute to these examples funerary or underworld associations, nor can the blue be interpreted naturalistically as a substitute for the sky.57 Although I am concentrating on Roman examples, I can hardly neglect the Classical and Hellenistic precedents. As E. Walter-Karydi58 showed some time ago, on Classical reliefs the canonical background was a blue that was dark and bright, a colour often obtained with Egyptian blue. Later, the situation became more complicated and articulated: in contrast to the friezes and pediments, for the background of the metopes white, or at any rate a bright colour, soon came to be preferred, while, in the Hellenistic age, backgrounds of various colours, all with a bright tone, are attested. Similar backgrounds seem particularly suitable for panels which have a narrative character and which do not possess an architectonic function canonised by tradition, as, for example, on the façade of the Tomb of the Hunt at Vergina.59 Later, we find bright backgrounds on pastoral sarcophagi of the late third century (fig. 10), but they have not yet been studied in detail.

  • 60 Moulding between frieze and metope in the Judgement Tomb at Lefkadia (Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 311-315, (...)
  • 61 See the lekythos of the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum in Athens and of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptote (...)
  • 62 Ibid., fig. 247, Piraeus Museum stele of Diogenes son of Apollonides, from Pyrrha on Lesbos (first (...)
  • 63 G. H. Hallam, “Notes on the Cult of Hercules Victor in Tibur and its Neighbourhood”, JRS 21 (1931), (...)
  • 64 C. Rizzardi (ed.), Il mausoleo di Galla Placidia a Ravenna. The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenn (...)
  • 65 F. R. Moretti, “Il mosaico con l’Agnus Dei, le colombe e i girali d’acanto nell’abside orientale”, (...)
  • 66 F. W. Deichmann, Ravenna. Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes II.1 (1974), pp. 30-31; III (1989) (...)
  • 67 F. W. Deichmann (n. 66), II.2 (1976); III, p. 177, pll. 332-333.

18If we follow these tendencies in their general development over a long period of time, we can propose a differentiation in the choice of backgrounds tied to the image’s genre and function. The vegetal friezes, for example, seem to be those more strongly tied to the tradition of the blue background, as innumerable examples show. One may mention here the Macedonian tombs,60 funerary lekythoi,61 and the crowning of palmette steles.62 The tradition survives in the middle and late imperial periods. Here one may cite the Hadrianic mosaics of the apses of the hypogeum of Monte dell’Incastro near Rome,63 the vaults64 of the mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna (425-430) (fig. 11), the apsidal vault of the narthex of the Baptistery of St John in the Lateran in Rome65 (dating to the time of Sixtus III, AD 432-450) (fig. 12). But in Ravenna its use survives as late as in some vegetal mosaic friezes of the Baptistery of Bishop Neon66 and even in some of San Vitale67 (540-548).

Fig. 9 — Angels in the mosaic of the arch Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.

(Photo: Vatican Museum, Rome)

Fig. 10 — Sarcophagus with pastoral scene, c. AD 300, Vatican Museums.

(Photo: Vatican Museum, Rome)

Fig. 11 — Lateran Baptistery, Mosaic of the narthex (AD 432-450), Rome

(Photo: Vatican Museum, Rome)

Fig. 12 — Polychrome reconstruction of the back wall of the Aula of the Colossus.

(Photo: Museo dei Fori Imperiali, Rome)

  • 68 IIITomb at Haghios Athanasios (Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 263-303, pll. 90-95; M. Tisimbidou-Avloniti, Le (...)
  • 69 L. Ungaro, “Il rivestimento dipinto dell’ ‘Aula del colosso’ nel Foro di Augusto”, in I Colori del (...)
  • 70 M. J. Strazzulla, Il principato di Apollo. Mito e propaganda nelle “lastre Campana” del tempio di A (...)
  • 71 Also in this case the analyses were directed by U. Santamaria in the Laboratory for Scientific Rese (...)
  • 72 Inv. 918; W. Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums II (1908), p. 111, no. 41b, pl. 11; (...)
  • 73 U. Lange, R. Sörries, “Die Procla-Platte. Eine polychrome Loculusverschlussplatte aus der anonymen (...)

19If we concentrate on the friezes and pediments, the impression given is more or less the same. Once again, we can take our point of departure from the Macedonian tombs in which friezes and pediments regularly have a blue or black background.68 In the Roman period, I believe we can include among the blue backgrounds the back wall of the Aula of the Colossus69 (fig. 13) in the Forum of Augustus in Rome, against which towered the colossal statue of the Genius of Augustus, as well as the terracotta revetment plaques from the area of the Temple of Palatine Apollo.70 A little later, in the age of Tiberius, the so-called “altar of the Vicomagistri” (fig. 14) shows clear traces of a malachite background, probably an alteration of the original one in azurite.71 On a more reduced scale, in later periods traces of blue are found on the background of a Hadrianic clipeus in the Vatican Museums72 (fig. 15) as well as on the sealing plaque of the loculus of Procla in the Via Anapo catacomb in Rome73 (fig. 16).

Fig. 13 —Ara dei Vicomagistri, detail with traces of malachite.

(Photo: P. Liverani)

Fig. 14 — FT-IR analysis of the traces of pigment on the background of the Altar of the Vicomagistri.

(Diagram: Gabinetto di ricerche scientifiche, Vatican Museum, Rome)

Fig. 15 — Hadrianic portrait on a clipeus, Vatican Museum.

(Photo: P. Liverani)

Fig. 16 — Loculus’s slab of Procla, Via Anapo catacomb, Rome.

(Photos: Pontificia Commissione Archeologia Sacra)

  • 74 K. E. Werner, Die Sammlung antiker Mosaiken in den Vatikanischen Museen (1998), pp. 326-332 (late 2(...)
  • 75 P. Pogliani, in M. Andaloro (n. 65), pp. 175-178, no. 20.
  • 76 M. R. Menna, in M. Andaloro (n. 65), pp. 179-180, no. 21.
  • 77 S. Pennesi, in M. Andaloro (n. 65), pp. 191-193, no. 26.
  • 78 C. Rizzardi (n. 64), pll. 15-22, 76-91.
  • 79 F. W. Deichmann (n. 66), II.1, pp. 31-43; III, pll. 39-53; C. Rizzardi, “La decorazione musiva del (...)
  • 80 See L. Bréhier, “Les mosaïques murales à fond d’azur”, REByz 3 (1945), pp. 46-55. The first mosaic (...)

20Among the mosaics should be mentioned, first and foremost, that of Silvanus from Ostia74 (fig. 17). In the early Christian period one can also recall the mosaic with the Maiestas Domini75 (366-384) (fig. 18) in the catacomb of Domitilla in Rome, as well as the fresco in the cubiculum of the Pistores76 (fig. 19) with Christ and the Twelve Apostles. In the catacomb ad Decimum on the Via Latina in Rome, the fresco with the Traditio legis (fig. 20) on the arcosolium “of Biator”77 can probably be dated to the beginning of the 5th century. The latest monumental Roman mosaic with a blue background is that in the apse of Sts Cosmas and Damian, which falls between the years 526 and 530. Here the blue does not primarily allude to the sky, which in this case is indicated more obviously by the presence of the clouds. At Ravenna, the lunettes of the aforementioned Mausoleum of Galla Placidia78 present a blue background which once again derives from the Classical tradition, and the same is true for the background from which the apostles emerge at the top of the dome of the Baptistery of Bishop Neon.79 We have now reached a “bilingual period”, as it were, because the central medallion with the baptism of Christ on the same dome has a golden background, and it was this colour that now became dominant for several centuries.80

Fig. 17 — Silvanus Mosaic, Vatican Museum.

(Photo: Vatican Museum, Rome)

Fig. 18 — Maiestas Domini, wall mosaic, Domitilla catacomb, Rome.

(Photo: Pontificia Commissione Archeologia Sacra)

Fig. 19 — Christ and the Twelve Apostles, fresco, Cubiculum of the Pistores, Domitilla catacomb, Rome.

(Photo: Pontificia Commissione Archeologia Sacra)

Fig. 20 — Traditio Legis, Arcosolium “of Biator”, Catacomb ad Decimum, Via Latina, Rome.

(Photo: Pontificia Commissione Archeologia Sacra)

21To conclude, it has been shown that in these cases blue constitutes a code which can be understood only when it is traced through a long period of development, and with a meaning completely different from that uncovered earlier with reference to dress codes. Rather than being tied to specific significations, the function of the blue background is rather metalinguistic, and its presence provides orientation to the spectator and confers on the images an authoritative and representative function, which we might define as “classic” and monumental.

Bibliographie

Bibliographical abbreviations

The abbreviations used in this study to refer to ancient authors and their works are those used in the Neue Pauly.

Brecoulaki 2006 = H. Brecoulaki, La peinture funéraire de Macédoine. Emplois et fonctions de la couleur ive-iie s. av. J.-C., Mélétémata 48.

Goette 1990 = H. R. Goette, Studien zu römischen Togadarstellungen.

Notes

1 Xenophanes, frg. 32 (Diels-Kranz); Arist., Mete. 371b 32, 374b 30; Aet., III.5.6-9 (ed. Diels 1879); Sen., QNat. 1.3.12; Amm., 20.11.27-28.

2 J. André, Étude sur les termes de couleur dans la langue latine, Études et commentaires VII (1949), p. 13.

3 W. E. Gladstone, Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age III (1858), pp. 458-499; H. Magnus, Die Geschichtliche Entwicklung des Farbensinns (1877) (French edition: Histoire de l’évolution du sens des couleurs [1878], pp. 47-48); O. Weise, Die Farbenbezeichnungen bei der Griechen und Römern, Philologus 46 (1888), pp. 593-605.

4 M. Pastoureau, Bleu. Histoire d’une couleur (2002). Similar ideas in other studies by the same author: Une histoire symbolique du Moyen Âge occidental (2004); Noir. Histoire d’une couleur (2008). This historian, the author of fundamental contributions on the issue, cannot profit from a solid body of literature on the Classical period, where he has at his disposal only a few essays that are limited in scope, and too general in their synthesis (M. Brusatin, Storia dei colori [1983]; J. Gage, Colour and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction [1993]) or works with evident methodological weaknesses (L. Luzzatto, R. Pompas, Il significato dei colori nelle civiltà antiche [1988]). For the best presentation of the sources in recent times see J. Lynn Sebesta, “Tunica ralla, tunica spissa: The Colors and Textiles of Roman Costume”, in J. Lynn Sebesta, L. Bonfante (eds), The World of Roman Costume (2001), pp. 65-76. A further proof –according to Pastoureau– of the low importance of blue in ancient times is its absence from Christian liturgy, but this is quite a weak argument. The choice of colour for mourning or penitence was from among grey, black, blue and violet. Only the last was preferred (in Latin also called subniger) with the obvious exclusion of the other “synonyms”.

5 J. and Ch. Cotte, “La guéde dans l’Antiquité”, REA 21 (1919), pp. 43-57.

6 A. Cameron, Circus Factions. Blues and Green at Rome and Byzantium (1976).

7 In the meaning intended by B. Berlin, P. Kay, Basic Colour Terms. Their Universality and Evolution (1991) (first edition 1969).

8 Livida, glaucus, caesius, cyaneus, venetus and aeri (n) us. See J. André (n. 2), pp. 162-183: caesius was used only for the colour of human eyes (and the eyes of lions); venetus occurs only in sporting contexts; aerinus appears only in Christian writers; ferreus is attested four times but with divergent meanings.

9 For positive connotations of green see J. Trinquier, “Confusis oculis prosunt uirentia (Sénèque, De ira 3.9.2): les vertus magiques et hygiéniques du vert dans l’Antiquité”, in L. Villard (ed.), Couleurs et vision dans l’Antiquité classique (2002), pp. 97-128.

10 Verg., Aen. 3.64, see also CIL XI 1420 (sacrifice to the Dii Manes of bosque et ovis atri infulis caerulis infulati); Val. Fl., 1.188.

11 In Serv., Aen. 3.64: Cato ait, deposita veste purpurea feminas usas caerulea cum lugerent. See also L. Deschamps, “Rites funéraires de la Rome républicaine”, in F. Hinard (ed.), La mort au quotidien dans le monde romain. Actes du colloque organisé par l’Université Paris IV, Paris-Sorbonne, 7-9 octobre 1993 (1995), pp. 171-180, esp. 171-174; J. Engels, Funerum sepulcrorumque magnificentia: Begräbnis- und Grabluxusgesetze in der griechisch-römischen Welt: mit einigen Ausblicken auf Einschränkungen des funeralen und sepulkralen Luxus im Mittelalter und in der Neuzeit, Hermes Einzelschriften 78 (1998), p. 182.

12 In a more generic manner Eus., ep. 22.27 considers the vestis pulla of a penitent as opposite to the sumptuous vestis aurata worn in her previous condition. An interesting portrait of a lady dressed for the most part in blue and with her face framed by a nimbus of the same colour is in the fresco in her tomb (G 2624) from Viminacium, now in the National Museum of Pozarevać (D. Sapsić-Jusić, in A. Donati, G. Gentili (eds), Costantino il grande. La civiltà antica al bivio tra Occidente e Oriente, Exhibition cat., Rimini 14.3-4.7.2005 (2005), p. 305, no. 159a. The entry “rica” in Festus (368 L), known to us only in a fragmentary state or through an imperfect compendium by Paul the Deacon, lets us suspect that some customs similar to the male ones also applied to female garments. Using a simplified definition, we can say that the rica was a sort of fringed female red mitra worn at sacrifices, but which likely existed also in white and in blue (the latter for mourning occasions). See also A. Hug, RE A.1 (1914), s.v. “Rica”, cc. 794-795.

13 For the flammeum, also the official dress of the Flaminica Dialis, see Plin., nat. 21.46; Mart., 11.78.3; 12.42.2; Apul., met. 4.33; Fest., 79.23 L; Symm., or. 4.13; Mart. Cap., 5.538; Drac., Romul. 8.640; Ambr., de virginitate 5 (Patrologia Latina XVI.272): for the red reticulum, worn the night before the wedding, see Hier., ep. 120.2; 147.6 (Patrologia Latina 22 1109); Ambr., de virginitate 1.11 (Patrologia Latina 16.206); J. Lynn Sebesta, “Symbolism in the Costume of the Roman Woman”, in J. Lynn Sebesta, L. Bonfante (n. 4), pp. 46-53; L. La Follette, “The Costume of the Roman Bride”, ibid., pp. 54-64.

14 C. Robotti, “I mosaici del Museo Campano di Capua”, in H. Morlier (ed.), La mosaïque gréco-romaine, IX, Actes du IXe colloque international pour l’étude de la mosaïque antique et médiévale, Rome, 5-10.11.2001 (2005), p. 1173-1174. The date proposed for the mosaic (2nd-3rd century AD) is probably too late.

15 Verg., Aen. 7.346; see also 4.482 (serpents in the hair of the Eumenides).

16 Verg., Aen. 3.432.

17 Verg., Aen. 6.410.

18 J. André (n. 2), pp. 298-296, collects the chromatic terminology concerning garments.

19 Ov., fast. 4.619-620: alba decent Cererem: vestes Cerialibus albas / sumite; nunc pulli velleris usus abest; Artem., onirocr., 2.3: οὐ γὰρ πρὸς ἔργω ὄντες οἱ ἄνθρωποι […] λευκοῖς ἱματίοις χρῶνται. See Suet., Aug. 40.5 who counters the pullatorum turba with Roman citizens as rerum dominos, gentemque togatam.

20 Liv., 45.7; Vell. Pat., 2.80.4; Ov., ars 3.189; Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Commodus 16.6.

21 Cic., Vat. 30-32; CIL XI, 1420; AE 1989, 408; Artem., onirocr. 2.3: οἱ τοὺς ἀποθνήσκοντας πενθοῦνψες τοιούτοις χρῶνται ἱματίοις (sc. μελάνοις).

22 The same observation is valid for the black in the pair ater/niger.

23 The readings of the sources proposed by S. Stone, “The Toga: From National to Ceremonial Costume”, in J. Lynn Sebesta, L. Bonfante (n. 4), pp. 13-45 (esp. 13-15) and to some extent also by L. Bonfante Warren, “Roman Triumphs and Etruscan Kings. The Changing Face of the Triumph”, JRS 60 (1970), pp. 49-66, at 60, are quite different.

24 Goette 1990, pp. 5-6 with bibliography. In this case the fabric was artificially whitened: Isidorus, Etymologicum 19.24.3: Toga candida eadem cretata, in qua candidati […] addita creta, quo candidior insigniorque esset. See Pers., 5.177: cretata ambitio.

25 B. Berlin, P. Kay, Basic Color Terms. Their Universality and Evolution (1991) (1st ed. 1969); P. Kay, L. Maffi, “Colour Appearance and the Emergence and Evolution of Basic Colour Lexicons”, American Anthropologist n.s. 101.4 (1999), pp. 743-760. This theory underwent various severe criticisms: see B. Saunders, “Revisiting Basic Colour Terms”, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 6 [n.s.] (2000), pp. 81-99; N. P. Hickerson, review of B. Berlin, P. Kay, Basic Colour Terms, International Journal of American Linguistics 37.4 (1971), pp. 257-270; G. C. Conklin, “Colour Categorisation”, The American Anthropologist 75.4 (1973), pp. 931-942; L. D. Griffin, “Optimality of the Basic Colour Categories for Classification”, Journal of the Royal Society: Interface 3 [6] (2006), pp. 71-85, but the position of red as the third colour has never been challenged. Survey of the discussion in M. Grossmann, Colori e lessico: studi sulla struttura semantica degli aggettivi di colore in catalano, castigliano, italiano, romeno, latino e ungherese, Tübinger Beiträge zur Linguistik 310 (1988), pp. 12-21; A. Duranti, Linguistic Anthropology (1997), pp. 65-67; G. Deutscher, Through the Language Glass. How Words Colour Your World (2010); C. P. Biggam, The Semantics of Colour. A Historical Approach (2012).

26 M. Sahlins, “Colours and Cultures”, Semiotica 16 (1976), pp. 1-22; R. Jakobson, L. R. Waugh, La forma fonica della lingua (1984), pp. 202-209 (English edition, The Sound Shape of Language [1979]); C. Lévi-Strauss, Le Regard éloigné (1983), p. 164; id., Regarder, Écouter, Lire, in Œuvres (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade) (2008), p. 1577 (first edition 1993).

27 One further reason for this is obviously the great diffusion of red natural pigments as e.g. ochre.

28 Goette 1990, pp. 5-6.

29 J. Lynn Sebesta (n. 13), p. 47, explains this by reference to the apotropaic power of the red band.

30 The entry of Festus (272.13) is unfortunately corrupted and fragmentary: <Praetexta pulla nulli> ali licebat uti, qu<a>m <ei qui funus faciebat> --- ius magistratus hab--- loco publicos lud<os> --- utitur, et scribam hab<et> --- quos facit, ludos --- <consu>libus et praetoribus vota --- ---rantiam sacra novorum --- - --tum est uti, emit votum --- que item Valerius vica--- ---ra ex senatu inprobar---. Perhaps the passage of Varro, fr. 313 (quam istorum quorum vitreae togae ostentant tunicae clavos) has a connection with this type of dress.

31 Fest., 228 L: picta quae nunc toga dicitur, purpurea ante vocitata est, eaque erat sine pictura. eius rei argumentum est […] pictum in aede Vertumni, et Consi, quarum in altera M. Fulvius Flaccus, in altera T.Papirius Cursor triumphantes ita picti sunt. Toga purpurea: Cic., Phil. 2.85; Liv., 10.7.9; 27.4.3 (See Tac., ann. 4.26.2); Suet., Domit. 4.4: purpureaque amictus toga graecanica; Mart., 10.93.1 (metaphorical usage). Toga picta: Prop., 4.4.53; Liv., 30.15.11; Sall., Hist. fr. 2.70M, l. 12; Lucan., 9.177; Fronto, ep. 1.7.3; Flor., epit. 1, 12, l. 13 (1.5.6); Auson., protrept. 89 (toga picta as a symbol of the consulship); Macr., sat. 1.6.7 (institution of the toga picta, derived from the Etruscans, by Tullus Hostilius); 3.13.9; Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Alexander Severus 40.8 (praetextam et pictam togam numquam nisi consul accepit); Gordiani tres 4.4 (togam pictam primus Romanorum privatus suam propriam habuit); Gallieni duo 8.5 (to climb the Capitolium); Aurelianus 13.3; Symm., ep. I.1 (as a sign of the consulship). See Iuv., 10.36-40: tunica Iovis et pictae Sarrana ferentem / ex umeris aulaea togae.

32 (Toga) palmata: Serv., Aen. 334 (palmata dicitur toga quam merebantur hi qui reportassent de hostibus palmam; See Isidorus, etymologicum 24.5); Liv., 31.11.11 (gift for a king); Mart., 7.2.7; Apul., apol. 1.22; Symm., ep. 6.40.1 (palmata amictus, et consulari insignis ornatu); Auson., Gratiarum actio 3.11.52 (signs of consulship: palmatae vestis meae ornamenta disponis […] Namque iste habitus ut in pace consulis est, sic in victoria triumphantis […] Palmatam […] in qua divus Constantinus intextus est); Auson., idyll. IV.94: Ut trabeam, pictamque togam, mea praemia, consul Induerer; Prud., c. symm. 1.553 (sign of the consulship); Sid. Apoll., ep. 5.13 palmata consularis; 8.1 palmata conferre; Ennod., ep. 5.2. Metaphorical usages: Sid. Apoll., ep. 6.221: palmatam plus picta oratione.

33 Verg., Aen. 7.612. According to a scholium of the Codex Turonensis, this toga was also worn when delimiting the foundation of a city: H. Gabelmann, “Die ritterliche Trabea”, JDAI 92 (1977), p. 330.

34 Serv., Aen. 7.612: IPSE QVIRINALI TRABEA Suetonius in libro de genere vestium dicit tria genera esse trabearum: unum dis sacratum, quod est tantum de purpura; aliud regum, quod est purpureum, habet tamen album aliquid; tertium augurale de purpura et cocco.

35 Probably in the archaic and middle-republican ages; from the 3rd century BC these priests also chose the toga praetexta: T. Schäfer, JDAI 95 (1980), p. 351, n. 36.

36 See also Isidorus, origines 19.24.8; Serv., Aen. 7.188. On this issue H. Gabelmann (n. 33), pp. 322-374, remains essential, but see also id., “Ein Eques Romanus auf einem afrikanischen Grabmosaik”, JDAI 94 (1979), pp. 594-599; id., “Römische ritterliche Offiziere imTriumphzug”, JDAI 96 (1981), pp. 436-465; Goette 1990, pp. 5-6; H. Wrede, “Zur Trabea”, JDAI 103 (1988), pp. 381-400. See Quint., inst. 11.1.31: Cicero, cum dicit, orationem suam coepisse canescere, sicut vestibus quoque non purpura coccoque fulgentibus illa aetas satis apta sit; Fronto, ep. 2.2.3: (to the emperor Marcus Aurelius) vobis praeterea, quibus purpura et cocco uti necessarium est.

37 Dion. Hal., 6.13.4.

38 Dion. Hal., 2.70.2, with the discussion of the passage in H. Gabelmann (n. 33), pp. 327-328. Probably in the archaic and middle-republican ages this type of trabea was also worn by the Flamines Diales and Martiales: W. Helbig, “Toga und Trabea”, Hermes 39 (1904), pp. 161-181, at 161-163, 174; A. Alföldi, in Gestalt und Geschichte, Festschrift K. Schefold (1967), pp. 40-42.

39 Verg., Aen. 3.403-409. See also Artem., onirocr. 2.3: ποικίλην δὲ ἐσθῆτα ἕχειν ἢ ἁλουργίδα ἱερεῦσιν μὲν καὶ θυμελικοῖς καὶ σκηνικοῖς καὶ τοῖς περὶ τὸν Διόνυσον τεξνίταις μόνοις συμφέρει. On the colours in this author see D. Kasprzyk, “Les couleurs du rêve: l’Onirocriticon d’Artémidore”, in L. Villard (n. 8), pp. 129-152.

40 R. Delbrück, Antike Porphyrwerke (1932), pp. 49, 54-58, 96-100.

41 Goette 1990, pp. 172-175, list K III-V; add also a togate statue from Formia: B. Conticello, Antiquarium di Formia (1978), n. 7; H. R. Goette, “Mulleus-Embas-Calceus”, JDAI 103 (1988), pp. 401-464, at 456; Goette 1990, p. 126, no. 269.

42 MNAT 7584: E. M. Koppel, Die römischen Skulpturen von Tarraco, Madrider Forschungen 15 (1985), pp. 15-16, 28-29, no. 4, pll. 4.1-3. His height (2.46 m) is more than natural, although the statue is headless.

43 Thanks to the kindness and helpfulness of the director of the Museum, Dr Francesc Tarrats, in January 2009 I obtained permission to take samples which were under analysis by Prof. Ulderico Santamaria, head of the Laboratory of Scientific Researches of the Vatican Museums.

44 Val. Max., 1.6. 11: pullum ei traditum est paludamentum, cum in proelium exeuntibus album aut purpureum.

45 Amm., 14.11.20.

46 Iust., 20.3.8; Plin., nat. 22.3: coccum imperatoriis dicatum paludamentis; Lyd., mag. 2.4: παλουδαμέντοις· αἱ δέ εἰσι δίπλακες ἀπὸ κόκκου.

47 Val. Max., 1.8.8 mentions the paludamentum of the divus Caesar, who appeared to Cassius during the battle at Philippi; Amm., 23.3.2 (Julian’s paludamentum); Isidorus, origines 19.24.9: paludamentum erat insigne pallium imperatorium cocco purpuraque et auro distinctum. See Victric., 26: principum […] paludamenti flammas ac Tyrium myricem. Verg., Aen. 4.261-262 ascribes the garment to Aeneas when he appears to Dido dressed in a purple mantle which tyrio ardebat murice. Livy, on the contrary, considers it an Etruscan invention obtained via Tarquinius Priscus (Flor., epit. 1. p. 12, l. 13 [olim 1.5.6]).

48 Oros., Hist. 6.18.32: Lepidus […] deposito paludamento assumptaque veste pulla supplex Caesaris factus; See Vell. Pat. 2.80.4: Lepidus et a militibus et a Fortuna desertus pulloque velatus amiculo […] ad Caesarem […] genibus eius advolutus est; Liv., 45.7.4 (Perseus pullo amicto in front of Aemilius Paullus).

49 Ps.-Aur. Vict., epit. de caes. 3.9.

50 Plin., nat. 33.63, but Tac., ann. 12.56.3 refers more properly to a chlamys aurata. See also the negative opinion of Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Gallieni duo 8.2 of the species pomparum presented by the emperor Gallienus climbing up the Capitolium with mille ducenti gladiatores pompabiliter ornati cum auratis vestibus matronarum.

51 P. Liverani, “Die Polychromie des Augustus von Prima Porta, vorläufiger Bericht”, in G. Zimmer (ed.), Neue Forschungen zur hellenistischen Plastik. Kolloquium zum 70. Geburtstag von Georg Daltrop. Eichstätt 27 April 2002 (2003), pp. 121-140; U. Santamaria, F. Morresi, “Le indagini scientifiche per lo studio della cromia dell’Augusto di Prima Porta”, in I colori del bianco (2004), pp. 243-248; P. Liverani, “L’Augusto di Prima Porta”, ibid., pp. 235-242.

52 B. Freyer-Schauenburg, “Die Statue des Trajan auf Samos”, AM 117 (2002), pp. 257-298; ead., “Die Sternmantel des Kaisers Trajan”, in V. Brinkmann, R. Wünsche, Bunte Götter: die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur (2003), pp. 212-215.

53 I merely mention that something similar was the case for other military garments too: we know, for example, of tunicae russae ducales: Scriptores Historae Augustae, Aurelianus 13.3. Moreover, the lictor of the magistrate with imperium outside the pomerium or during the triumphal procession wore a red sagum (Varo., ling. 7.37; Liv., 31.41.1; 41.10.5; 45.39.11; Sil. It., 9.420; Cic., Pis. 55; App., Pun. 66: ῥαβδοῦχοι φοινικοῦς χιτῶνας ἐνδεδυκότες), as is also clearly confirmed by the traces of colour on the lictor before the figure of Mars in the profectio of the Cancelleria Relief.

54 Plin., nat. 33.63 mentions the triumphal tunic of king Tarquinius Priscus, who had a bad reputation owing to his tyrannical associations.

55 Amm., 23.3.2.

56 E. Kirschbaum, “L’angelo rosso e l’angelo turchino”, RAC 17 (1940), pp. 209-248.

57 See E. La Rocca, Lo spazio negato (2008) about the background and treatment of the space in ancient figurative art.

58 E. Walter-Karydi, “Prinzipien der archaischen Farbgebung”, in K. Braun, A. Furtwängler (eds), Studien zur klassischen Archäologie, Festschrift F. Hiller (1986), pp. 23-41; ead., “Das Kolorit des Reliefsgrundes in der archaischen und klassischen Plastik”, in V. Brinkmann, R. Wünsche (n. 52), pp. 207-211.

59 Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 103-133, pll. 26-43.

60 Moulding between frieze and metope in the Judgement Tomb at Lefkadia (Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 311-315, pll. 104-105); internal friezes of the II Tomb, Tumulus A, at Aineia (ibid., pp. 327-340, pll. 110-111) and of the Tomb B at Korynos (ibid., pp. 242-244, pll. 85.3-86); at Vergina, friezes on the back wall or the Tomb of Eurydice (ibid., pp. 49-76, pll. 1.2, 2.1) and of the façade of the Rhomaios Tomb (ibid., pp. 160-161, pll. 58.1 and 3).

61 See the lekythos of the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum in Athens and of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek at Copenhagen, with the reconstruction of its polychromy: U. Koch-Brinkmann, R. Posamentir, “Ornament und Malerei einer attischen Grablekythos”, in V. Brinkmann, R. Wünsche (n. 52), pp. 175-183.

62 Ibid., fig. 247, Piraeus Museum stele of Diogenes son of Apollonides, from Pyrrha on Lesbos (first half of the 4th century BC), inv. no. 8098.

63 G. H. Hallam, “Notes on the Cult of Hercules Victor in Tibur and its Neighbourhood”, JRS 21 (1931), pp. 276-282; F. B. Sear, Roman Wall and Vault Mosaics, RM SupplB 23 (1977), p. 104, n. 89, figs. 30-32; Z. Mari, Tibur, pars tertia. Forma Italiae, Regio I, XVII (1983), pp. 57-68, n. 23.

64 C. Rizzardi (ed.), Il mausoleo di Galla Placidia a Ravenna. The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna. Mirabilia Italiae 4 (1996), pll. 35, 39-44, 46, 60, 67-70, 72.

65 F. R. Moretti, “Il mosaico con l’Agnus Dei, le colombe e i girali d’acanto nell’abside orientale”, in M. Andaloro (ed.), La pittura medievale a Roma. 312-1431. L’Orizzonte tardoantico e le nuove immagini, 312-468. Corpus I (2006), pp. 348-352, no. 42a.

66 F. W. Deichmann, Ravenna. Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes II.1 (1974), pp. 30-31; III (1989), pll. 88-95.

67 F. W. Deichmann (n. 66), II.2 (1976); III, p. 177, pll. 332-333.

68 IIITomb at Haghios Athanasios (Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 263-303, pll. 90-95; M. Tisimbidou-Avloniti, Les peintures funéraires d’Aghios Athanassios, in S. Descamps-Lequime [ed.], Peinture et couleur dans le monde grec antique [2007], pp. 56-67, figs. 3-4); at Lefkadia in the Judgement Tomb (Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 204-217, pll. 74-75) and in the Palmette Tomb (Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 173-204, pll. 63.1, 64-67; K. Rhômiopoulou, in S. Descamps-Lequime, op. cit., pp. 18-20, fig. 3), in the Tomb at Phoinikas (Brecoulaki 2006, pp. 311-315, pll. 104-105), but also in the interior pediment of the upper chamber of Tomb C of the Via dei Cristallini at Naples (V. Valerio, Observations sur le décor peint de la tombe C du complexe monumental des Cristallini, Naples, in S. Descamps-Lequime, op. cit., pp. 148-161, figs. 8-9).

69 L. Ungaro, “Il rivestimento dipinto dell’ ‘Aula del colosso’ nel Foro di Augusto”, in I Colori del bianco, pp. 275-280; ead., “L’Aula del Colosso nel Foro di Augusto: architettura e decorazione scultorea”, in J. M. Noguera Celdrán, E. Conde Guerri (eds), Escultura Romana en Hispania V, Actas de la reunión internacional, Murcia, 9-11 noviembre 2005 (2008), pp. 29-64.

70 M. J. Strazzulla, Il principato di Apollo. Mito e propaganda nelle “lastre Campana” del tempio di Apollo Palatino, Studia Archeologica 5 (1990); P. Pensabene, “Elementi architettonici dalla casa di Augusto sul Palatino”, MDAI (R) 104 (1997), pp. 189-192, pl. 28; M. A. Tomei, Museo Palatino (1997), pp. 50-53, nn. 29b-f, p. 59, no. 34b; A. Carandini, La Casa di Augusto dai “Lupercalia” al Natale (2008), p. 37, figs. 17-18; pp. 155-160, fig. 72.

71 Also in this case the analyses were directed by U. Santamaria in the Laboratory for Scientific Researches of the Vatican Museums.

72 Inv. 918; W. Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums II (1908), p. 111, no. 41b, pl. 11; L. Budde, Antike Plastik IV (1965), p. 104, n. 9, fig. 1. The traces of pigment were noted during the restoration in 1992.

73 U. Lange, R. Sörries, “Die Procla-Platte. Eine polychrome Loculusverschlussplatte aus der anonymen Katakombe an der Via Anapo in Rom”, AW 21 (1990), pp. 45-56.

74 K. E. Werner, Die Sammlung antiker Mosaiken in den Vatikanischen Museen (1998), pp. 326-332 (late 2nd, early 3rd century AD).

75 P. Pogliani, in M. Andaloro (n. 65), pp. 175-178, no. 20.

76 M. R. Menna, in M. Andaloro (n. 65), pp. 179-180, no. 21.

77 S. Pennesi, in M. Andaloro (n. 65), pp. 191-193, no. 26.

78 C. Rizzardi (n. 64), pll. 15-22, 76-91.

79 F. W. Deichmann (n. 66), II.1, pp. 31-43; III, pll. 39-53; C. Rizzardi, “La decorazione musiva del Battistero degli Ortodossi e degli Ariani a Ravenna: alcune considerazioni”, in L’edificio battesimale in Italia. Aspetti e problemi, Atti VIII Congr. Naz. Archeologia Cristiana 1998 II (2001), pp. 915-930.

80 See L. Bréhier, “Les mosaïques murales à fond d’azur”, REByz 3 (1945), pp. 46-55. The first mosaic with a gold background is at St. Aquilino in Milan: C. Ihm, Die Programme der christlichen Apsismalerei vom vierten Jahrhundert bis zur Mitte des achten Jahrhunderts (1960), pp. 58-59, XX, pl. I.1; G. Bovini, “I mosaici del S. Aquilino di Milano”, in Corsi di cultura sull’arte ravennate e bizantina 17 (1970), pp. 61-82; C. Bertelli, “I mosaici di Sant’Aquilino”, in G. A. Dell’Acqua (ed.), La basilica di San Lorenzo in Milano (1985), pp. 145-169; P. J. Nordhagen, “The Mosaics of the Cappella di S. Aquilino in Milan. Evidence of Restoration”, ActaAArtHist 2 (1982), pp. 77-94.

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Auteur

Professor, Dipartimento di Storia, Archeologia, Geografia, Arti e Spettacolo, Faculty Member, University of Florence, Italy.

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