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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Arch of Drusus

The Arch in Context

I went back to the Arch of Drusus (so-called, but it’s hard to imagine it being later than the Aurelianic gate just within which it’s situated) a couple of weekends ago to paint the same subject I’d drawn (see my previous post). I worked in the morning, within about a two hour window of time. With that constraint of Valenciennes’ you must decide what you can capture, and what you can’t. I’m interested in the overall form, some sense of texture, light and shadow of course, and context. I’m also interested in the subject for what it tells us about how the Romans understood what a triumphal arch was. I’m especially interested in the use of the orders (an innovation essentially of the Augustan age, when the former simple fornix—a deep arch or vault—accrued the classical orders and changed its designation to arcus). Here the columns en ressaut frame a pediment grafted on to the arch proper, not spanning from column to column. While the pediment situation is unusual (but not unknown) the en ressaut columns are effectively normative for most Roman arches. That’s partly the subject of my summer research, but here talking about plein air I’ll let the painting process speak for itself. You'll note I worked, as always, on a toned ground.

Arco di Druso, oil on canvas board, 25x35cm

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