What is the role of painting in domestic life?
Painting played an important role in the homes of both the Roman nouveaux riches living in Pompeii and the yangbang elite of Korea’s Chosôn period. Although the form and style that painting took in each case was very different, it maintained some essential functions across time and geography. Like all art in the domestic sphere, both the Roman wall paintings and the Chosôn hanging scrolls embellished their respective spaces, delighting the eyes of residents and visitors alike. At the same time, they served a sociocultural function, providing information about the cultural values and social status of their owners.
Questions to Consider
- The wall paintings of Pompeii were given permanence through the medium of fresco. In contrast, hanging scrolls were a kind of temporary decoration that were sometimes displayed, sometimes rolled up and put away. What do you think were the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of domestic decoration?
- Describe the content and style of each of these paintings. What does each communicate about the aesthetic values of the owner of the home in which it was seen? What do you think each was intended to communicate to visitors in the home?
- Think about the kinds of images that you display in your own home or living space and those that you have seen in the residences of others. How do these compare to the examples seen here?
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