Some Representative Examples of Romano-British Sculpture
Journal of Roman Studies
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... ies. The collection of casts lately prepared by the Roman Society, and described in the following pages, was designed to include representative sculptures and architectural decorations of the Roman period in Britain. It had originally been hoped that these casts might find a place in the Archaeological Exhibition held in Rome in I9II and eloquently described by Mrs. Arthur Strong in the first number of this Journal. Unfortunately, it was found wholly impossible to prepare the series in time for the exhibition; only a few pieces, brought together by the personal exertions of Dr. Ashby, could be included in it. The Society has, however, now completed the series, has put the casts on sale and has found enough purchasers to make the scheme financially self-supporting. In all, I65 casts have been purchased by various museums and institutions in these islands and abroad, and valuable illustrations have thus been provided of the character and meaning of the sculptures of the Roman period in Britain. Even the illustrated sale catalogue drawn up by one of the present writers has had the honour of being cited and used by M. Reinach in the most recent volume of his Re'pertoire.1 The pieces included in this series are of very varied character, and include a wider range of style than would be expected in a small group of objects, or than actually occurs in most parts of the western Roman world. They contain no trace of the existence of any local Romano-British school or manner, such as we meet at no great distance from Britain, for example, in the Mosel valley, round Trier and other towns in what was once eastern Gaul. It is indeed not very likely that the province of Britain should have produced such a school. It lay remote from the centres of Graeco-Roman artistic activity ; it was a comparatively poor province, unable to import costly objects, and its own artistic traditions, such as they were, lay rather in Celtic metal-work than in classical sculpture. We seem rather to see in the remains a mixture of various elements. Many of the pieces, perhaps indeed the majority, illustrate the sculpture or, more precisely, the stone-work which the Roman army was able to produce, with some local differences, in many 1iii pp. 436, foil.