High Empire Rome
Towards the end of the this time frame art starts becoming more abstract and you see less realism in the proportions of portraits and you see more geometrical shaping. There is quite a mixing of techniques at this point in time. Sculpture in this era seems to mold to the tastes of each individual emperor. This time in Roman history becomes troubled and you can see that through the changes in sculpture.
The Column of Trajan
The column of Trajan is a giant scroll like structure that was built to commemorate the Dacian campaigns led by Trajan. This scrolls is a continuous narrative that winds around the column. This structure portrays the Dacian barbarians as worthy opponents on the Romans and it shows Trajan as the excellent commander in battle of a well organized and managed army.
The emperor Hadrian was also an advent user of sculpture as political propaganda. He liked to publish his accomplishments also. These two roundels can be found on the Arch of Constantine but were actually made for Hadrian. One shows him hunting a lion and the other is him making a sacrifice to the god Apollo. These images are supposed to reinforce his imperial status. Hadrian has a special appreciation for Greek art so these are done in a manner that is more classical and idealized than the Roman realism. The roman flare is there though with attention to detail and elements of landscape.
Portrait of Carcalla
This portrait of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, also known as the emperor Carcalla shows a very pointed change in Roman Empire rule from that of Augustan rule. This is a very intense display of threatening power to the Romans. There is no attempt to show himself as equals with the Roman citizens; only the Emperor in power.
During the second and third centuries sarcophagi sculpture was gaining more and more popularity among the wealthy Romans. More people were being opting for burials rather than cremations. So the wealth Romans were having marble sarcophagi sculpted displaying battle scenes, biographical or historical scenes, or just the persons ideals of life. Mythological scenes were very popular. This is the Meleager Sarcophagus, this scene was used to symbolize virtues and was very popular.
Colossus of Constantine
Only pieces of this statue survive today. Shown here is the head of Constantine's Colossus statue. It is estimated that this statue stood at about 40ft high at one time. The head alone is over 8ft tall. The statue was made from marble, had a wooden frame, and bronze drapery. This statue was a prominent display of imperial power. In fact, the statue was used as a stand in for him when he was unavailable. This allowed for business that legally required his presence to be conducted even while he was no available to be there for it. His portrait here had qualities of the many different Roman styles. There is geometrical elements to his eyebrows, display of strong facial features such as the nose, and its touched with idealism in the lack of other facial definition. Constantine wanted to project an image of unwavering power in his portraiture and was very successful with the Colossus of Constantine.
The Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine was erected in memorial to the Constantine's victory over Maxentius in 312 C.E. This is a giant triple arch that makes the Arch of Titus look small. Constantine reused sculptural elements from other monuments to Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius. Some think that he was trying to visually transfer the ideals of the old "good" Roman Emperors to the current time. Others think that perhaps the transfer of old elements to the new Arch were just because there weren't as many talented people to create the kind of sculpture Constantine wanted created.