Natives and Strangers in Roman Britain
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Natives and Strangers in Roman Britain book
Most previous attempts at understanding Insular art have concentrated on sculpture, and have taken either a condemnatory or, at best, an apologetic tone. In her great compilation of all the material known to her at the time, Professor Jocelyn Toynbee rationalizes her value judgements by defining three basic categories of finds from Britain.1 First there is art imported from the Mediterranean area, obeying classical canons of proportion. The marble busts from the villa at Lullingstone, Kent, for example, are of great interest in the social context and these, or similar sculptures, could conceivably have acted as models for local lapidaries but are irrelevant to actual artistic production in Britain. The second category is high-quality provincial work, normally attributed to Gaulish artists, such as the bronze statuette of Mercury from Gosbecks, Colchester (see 60). Finally there is a residue of low-quality art, much of it produced by British craftsmen (though including some imports such as samian ware); some of it may be interesting, but it cannot be regarded as good, let alone great, art.