The talk will be held in German.
Everyday traces in Roman pictorial practice. The contrast and complementarity of female portraits, through the example of Roman ring gems
Representations aimed at the pictorial representation of human beings have been a constant of the human will to form since ancient times. They drew their meaning both from their materially predisposed constructive elements, and also from the contexts in which they were made to appear. In the sphere of Roman everyday life they are a downright omnipresent phenomenon. For that reason, they have been studied across their full spectrum in this sphere, from questions about the relation of portrait and individual, through to different forms of representation and functions in society. In this context the female portraits and the roles represented in them have received special attention. Yet works of small, private forms of art have so far not received a systematic treatment. The elaborations in various media of the phenomenon of female portraits are therefore known primarily in relation to the influence of official portraits or portraits in public space.
This lecture, to the contrary, considers the example of the specific functionality of the representational category “portrait” beyond public spaces. The focus will here often be on carved gems made of a gemstone or glass that were used primarily as jewelry or signets. These were both highly mobile and directly linked to a person. For that reason the objects potentially had an impact in every context in which their bearer acted. Through case studies a sketch will be offered of how female portraits were embedded in Roman everyday practices, and were brought to bear outside prescribed spatial contexts of perception, and in various spheres and social configurations. Of special interest is the question of the extent to which the concepts characteristic of Roman portraits, such as individual and exemplum, belong in categorically different systems of reference, and whether these are contrasting or complementary ways of describing the category of portrait itself.
Respondent: Thoralf Schröder (Cologne)