Toroazul Painting and Fine Arts

Drawing the
ARA PACIS
Page One
It is hard not to fall into the temptation of
sounding "high and lofty" when describing the
classical period monuments of Rome, for
example, the Altar of Peace (ARA PACIS) of
Emperor Augustus (12 B.C.).
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Res Gestae Divi Augusti... (Record of deeds
of the Divine Augustus)
 color pencil
composite drawing, 28  x  43 cm...2013
(Private commision)
The poet Virgil's own contemporary descriptions of the hero Aeneas' descent into the
Underworld was another reading that helped me  "see" the humanity of this scene as depicted
by one of the four marble bas-reliefs of the Roman monument. VIRGIL's epic poem, The
Aeneid, written for Augustus at more or less the same time as the ARA PACIS was sculpted,  
indeed throws much light into the somewhat fragmentary corner moments of the Altar. The day
I studied it,  I could not decide what I found more noble about it : whether the two sort of
"altar" boys (or Camilli) who mediate the votive offering of the hero described  in Book VI of the
Aeneid,  the female pig, or  the Greek labyrinth meander serving as border for the event.
Sacrificial procession---study
Yet when I began this series of black line, sepia, and (top of the page) full-color pencil drawings of
the mighty but often overlooked marble monument of Rome's first Emperor Ottaviano, better
known as Augustus, I felt that this project had come along for me precisely as an opportunity to
discover the vibrant life-force under this icon of Western classicism. The person who
commissioned the drawing, in fact, is about to publish a fascinating series of  reflections on the
recurring motifs of "the tree of life,"  the Julian line of the imperial family, and numerous
elements of nature, as depicted by the Augustus era ARA PACIS.  In short, the combination of
my living in Rome and then having the privilege to read just one chapter of this professor's text,
soon set fire to my drawing hand so that I , too, could read some of the deeper levels of the Altar.
Acanthus plant and swans ---study
My special thanks to
Dottoressa Orietta
Rossini, Curator in charge
of the Ara Pacis, for kindly
permitting me to draw the
Monument during
January 2013.