Fabius Pictor

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Fabius Pictor

Active Circa 300 b.c.e.

Painter

Sources

Aristocratic Family. Fabius Pictor, known as Fabius “the Painter,” was born into an aristocratic family called the Fabii. He was famous for his paintings in the temple of Salus (Health), which eventually burned down during the reign of Claudius (41-54 C.E.). It seems that his painting was admired for the precision of its outlines and the brightness and mixture of its colors, which refrained from being gaudy (at least in Roman eyes). Fabius Pictor is an interesting example of a trend in the Roman republic and early empire whereby certain members of the aristocracy found fame as painters. This fame, however, brought with it some controversy. Some considered that his occupation as painter fell short of the pride of his family, which had won honors with consulships, priesthoods, and triumphs. Yet, Fabius proudly signed his works and apparently compared himself to the great Greek sculptor Pheidias, who moved in high political circles, and is said to have depicted his own portraits on one of his works.

Sources

Jacob Isager, Pliny on Art and Society (London: Routledge, 1991).

K. Jex-Blake and Eugenie S. Sellers, eds., The Elder Pliny’s Chapters on the History of Art (Chicago: Argonaut, 1968).

Jerome J. Pollitt, The Art of Rome c.753 B.C.-337 AD. Sources and Documents (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966).

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Fabius Pictor

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