Like Augustus who boasted, “I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble”, we tend to focus on the magnificent marble temples and ideal sculptures of imperial Rome as we immerse ourselves in an aesthetic visual orgy. But Augustus also recognized the value of terracotta as an art form that recalled the very origins of the ancient city and bespoke “Romanness”, choosing to decorate his majestic palace complex the included the Temple of Apollo on the Palatine Hill with terracotta architectural reliefs.
These terracotta “Campana reliefs” from the temple complex were mould-made (n.b. the multiples), bisque fired and then cold-painted with pigments including yellow ochre, red ochre, lead white, calcium-based white pigment, Egyptian blue and minium. Themes include Hercules and Apollo fighting over the Delphic Tripod (substitute Marc Antony and Augustus here!), two girls who adorn the betile (aniconic image) of Apollo, and Perseus severing the head of Gorgon Medusa reflected in the shield held by Athena. 30s BC, Museo Palatino