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Style and Function in Roman Decoration

Swift, Ellen (2010) Style and Function in Roman Decoration. Journal of Art Historiography (2). ISSN 2042-4752

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URL of Published Version: https://arthistoriography.wordpress.com/number-2-june-2010/

Identification Number/DOI: 10.48352/uobxjah.00004153


Introductory chapter: This important book puts forward a new interpretation of Roman decorative art, focusing on the function of decoration in
the social context. It examines the three principal areas of social display and conspicuous consumption in the Roman
world: social space, entertainment, and dress, and discusses the significance of the decoration of objects and interiors
within these contexts, drawing examples from both Rome and its environs, and the Western provinces, from the early
Imperial period to Late Antiquity.
Focusing on specific examples, including mosaics and other interior décor, silver plate, glass and pottery vessels, and
jewellery and other dress accessories, Swift demonstrates the importance of decoration in creating and maintaining social
networks and identities and fostering appropriate social behaviour, and its role in perpetuating social convention and
social norms. It is argued that our understanding of stylistic change and the relationship between this and the wider social
context in the art of the Roman period is greatly enhanced by an initial focus on the particular social relationships fostered
by decorated objects and spaces.
The book demonstrates that an examination of so-called 'minor art' is fundamental in any understanding of the relationship
between art and its social context, and aims to reinvigorate debate on the value of decoration and ornament in the Roman
period and beyond.

Type of Work:Article
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Additional Information:

This article is archived in ePapers for preservation purposes

Date:June 2010
Subjects:N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Copyright Status:Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the journal. Authors may subsequently archive and publish the pdfs as produced by the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings. Copyright restrictions apply to the use of any images contained within the articles. This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
ID Code:4153
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