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Shaping Roman Landscape: Ecocritical Approaches to Architecture and Wall Painting in Early Imperial Italy

Available August 2023

Mantha Zarmakoupi

A groundbreaking ecocritical study that examines how ideas about the natural and built environment informed architectural and decorative trends of the Roman Late Republican and Early Imperial periods.
Landscape emerged as a significant theme in the Roman Late Republican and Early Imperial periods. Writers described landscape in texts and treatises, its qualities were praised and sought out in everyday life, and contemporary perceptions of the natural and built environment, as well as ideas about nature and art, were intertwined with architectural and decorative trends.
This illustrated volume examines how representations of real and depicted landscapes, and the merging of both in visual space, contributed to the creation of novel languages of art and architecture. Drawing on a diverse body of archaeological, art historical, and literary evidence, this study applies an ecocritical lens that moves beyond the limits of traditional iconography. Chapters consider, for example, how garden designs and paintings appropriated the cultures and ecosystems brought under Roman control and the ways miniature landscape paintings chronicled the transformation of the Italian shoreline with colonnaded villas, pointing to the changing relationship of humans with nature. Making a timely and original contribution to current discourses on ecology and art and architectural history, Shaping Roman Landscape reveals how Roman ideas of landscape, and the decorative strategies at imperial domus and villa complexes that gave these ideas shape, were richly embedded with meanings of nature, culture, and labor.  

Mantha Zarmakoupi is Morris Russell and Josephine Chidsey Williams Assistant Professor of Roman Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.

208 pages
7 x 10 inches
78 color and 6 b/w illustrations
24 maps and plans
ISBN 978-1-60606-848-9 

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum