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Classical art encompasses ancient Greek and Roman art. Except for a few fragments, Greek wall paintings and panels have not survived. The naturalistic representations of mythological scenes on Greek pottery, however, may shed light on what this large-scale painting was like.

In the Hellenistic era, scenes and designs represented in mosaics are probably also echoes of lost monumental paintings in other media. The Romans decorated their villas with mosaic floors and exquisite wall frescoes portraying rituals, myths, landscapes, still-life, and scenes of daily activities. Using the technique known as aerial perspective, in which colors and outlines of more distant objects are softened and blurred to achieve spatial effects, Roman artists created the illusion of reality.

In the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 and excavated in modern times, a corpus of Roman painting, both secular and religious, has been preserved.


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