Professor Greenough delivered last evening in Harvard 1, a very interesting lecture on Roman Art, - "House Decoration." The lecture was illustrated throughout by the lantern, and the views shown gave one a splendid idea of the old Roman homes.
The most striking thing, said Professor Greenough, in Roman life is the scarcity of houses furniture. The Romans seemed to prefer fine decorations to comfortable rooms. The amount and variety of decorations attract ones attention, especially those on the walls. Usually two rows of columns supported the ceiling, the rows being on either side of the room, and the wall between these rooms was always decorated. Plates or slabs of marble were usually used as an ancient form of decoration. A representation of windows was often resorted to as a mode beautifying a room, while on these windows, which were themselves really marble, were pictured scenes of outdoor life. Sometimes scenes of gardens were painted, giving one the idea of beautiful flowers beyond.
The walls were often decorated by paintings of different sorts; this is found in the more modern style of decoration. Openings were often made in the walls and in these were paintings representing rooms beyond, thus they seemed to enlarge the rooms.
Variations were frequent in the Roman art; porticos are often found and by the porticos are paintings made so as to resemble hanging pictures. The subjects painted in these panels, are for the most part of a religious and semi-religious character. Sacred trees with emblems are very common pictures. The representation of the Divinity is also common, especially among the poorer classes, as such pictures were thought to protect the inmates of a dwelling.
Yet another kind of pictures were those representing battles, but these are, however few and are mostly semi-religious. The figure of a person floating in the air was still another kind of picture which was very popular, while the fondness of the Romans for outdoor scenes led them frequently to cover their walls with representations of every day life.