Frescoes

Terentius Neo e la moglie

Terentius Neo and his wife
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Terentius Neo and his wife

The fresco in the IV Pompeian style, which dates to 55-79 AD according to a stylistic analysis, was discovered in the tablinum of the House of Terentius Neo in Pompeii in 1868.
The wall painting depicts a couple of Pompeian middle-class people, certainly a husband with his wife, and was placed on the back wall of the room in such a way as to be visible to anyone who passed through the atrium. It is the baker Terentius Neo, as the engraved inscription inside the house reveals, and not, as some scholars had incorrectly thought for a long time, Paquius Proculus, whose name appears instead in an electoral inscription painted on the outside wall.
The couple are portrayed as refined, cultured and fashionable well-to-do people
Despite everything, though, the facial features, rendered by the painter with deliberate accuracy, reveal the provincial origin of the two parvenu, probably Samnites, who, once obtained the economic wealth, aspire to hide their own humble origins and to enter high society by full right.

Saffo

Portrait of the so-called Sappho

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Portrait of the so-called Sappho

The fresco in the IV Pompeian style, which dates to 55-79 AD according to a stylistic analysis, was discovered in the House VI, 17 or Insula occidentalis in Pompeii on May 24th, 1760.
The painting shows the bust of a girl, inserted in a medallion with a purple background that stands out against the white wall, holding in her left hand a polyptych of four waxed tablets and in her right hand a stylus, which she affectedly brings near her lips with a meditative attitude, almost to reflect for a moment before writing.
The small painting, which was the companion to a male portrait, is built according to a well-tested scheme. The fresco is devoid of any portrait painting purpose, which also excludes the possibility of identification with the famous Greek poetess, from whom it receives the name. It fits rather in the vein of intentional portrait that, in this case, is used to highlight, through the type of docta puella, the fact that the girl belongs to a cultured and rich family.

Rissa tra Pompeiani e Nucerini

Brawl between Pompeians and Nucerini
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Brawl between Pompeians and Nucerini

The fresco, in the IV Pompeian style (59-79 AD), was discovered in the peristilium (colonnade with garden) of the House of Actius Anicetus or of the Brawl at the Amphitheatre in Pompeii in 1869.
The fresco, which reproduces places and events with great accuracy in details and with immediacy of expression, represents the brawl broken out in Pompeii in 59 AD on the occasion of games at the arena, which involved Pompeians and Nucerini and caused, for Nero’s will, the closing of the amphitheatre for ten years.
The interest in the realistic reproduction of details, the lack of perspective in the proportions of buildings and people, that are always of the same dimensions regardless of their position in the space, and the option of showing places viewed with bird’s eyes recall, on the one hand, the vein of Roman Art generally defined as popular and, on the other hand, the scenes present on the columns coclidi of Rome, as well as the triumphal painting unfortunately known only through the testimony of historical sources.

Il sacrificio di Ifigenia

The sacrifice of Iphigenia

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The sacrifice of Iphigenia

The fresco in the IV Pompeian style, which dates to around 45-79 AD, was discovered in the peristilium (colonnade with garden) of the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii on April 30th, 1825.
The large fresco can be subdivided horizontally into two registers. In the middle of the lower part is the group of Iphigenia, who is transported by force towards the altar of sacrifice by Ulysses and Diomedes or by Ulysses and Achilles dressed in short red tunics. On the right, there is the priest Calchas dressed in a long red tunic and a white cloak tied around his waist, whereas on the left king Agamemnon is turning his back to the scene under the weight of the responsibility of assenting to the sacrifice of his daughter.
Two female busts emerging from the clouds occupy the upper part of the scene: the goddess Artemis and a Nymph who is leading a doe. The painter wanted to represent the climax of the myth, anticipating in some way the epilogue with the introduction of the divine intervention that will save the girl.

Bacco e il Vesuvio

Bacchus and Vesuvius
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Bacchus and Vesuvius

The fresco in the IV Pompeian style, which dates to 68-79 AD, was discovered in the lararium (home shrine dedicated to the Lares, guardian spirits of dead ancestors) in the secondary atrium of the House of the Centenary in Pompeii on September 29th, 1880.
The fresco shows Bacchus and a high isolated mountain, with the slopes covered by rows of vines supported by stakes, interpreted as Mount Vesuvius before the eruption of 79 AD and therefore characterized by a single peak, or as Mount Nysa, where, according to the legend, Bacchus would have been brought up.
The god is depicted with his classical characteristics: he is holding in his left hand the thyrsus (long ritual stick wrapped in vine leaves with a pinecone on the top), while he is offering with his right hand a kantharos (high goblet with two handles for drinking wine) to a panther at his feet.
The upper part of the scene is adorned with a curved wreath and ribbons on which a bird is resting, while in the lower part an agathodemone serpent is coiling through the bushes of a myrtle in the direction of an altar with an egg.

Enea ferito

Injured Aeneas

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Injured Aeneas

The fresco in the IV Pompeian style, which dates to around 45-79 AD, was discovered in the triclinium (banqueting-hall) of the House of Sirico in Pompeii on April 30th, 1825.
The painting depicts Aeneas subjected to an operation by the physician Japix, who tries to pull the peak of an enemy arrow out of his right thigh with the forceps or a scalpel.
The fresco draws on the episode narrated by Virgil in the last book of the “Aeneid”, when, in a battle against the Rutuli on Italic soil, the Trojan hero was wounded in his thigh by a stray arrow and was forced to retreat accompanied by Ascanius, Achates and Mnesteo. Depicted by a painter of scarce artistic abilities, the greatest interest of the fresco lies mainly in seeing a doctor in the act of performing a surgical operation.
The choice of the subject, shown inside a triclinium, which is a room designed to receive guests, represents certainly a tribute to the mythological story of the origins of Rome.

Perseo e Andromeda

Perseus and Andromeda

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Perseus and Andromeda

The fresco in the IV Pompeian style, which dates to 62-79 AD, was discovered in the peristilium (colonnade with garden) of the House of the Dioscuri in Pompeii in 1824-1825.
The painting depicts the hero Perseus in the act of releasing Andromeda after the killing of the monster, to which the girl had to be sacrificed for Poseidon’s will in order to punish her mother Cassiopeia, who had considered her daughter to be more beautiful than the Nereids.
The theme of the release of Andromeda by Perseus is one of the most depicted in ancient times: only six copies come from Pompeii.
The most ancient depictions in the III Pompeian style focus on the presence of the minor characters of the myth (from Cassiopeia to Cefeo), whereas the later ones insist on the two main characters, Perseus and Andromeda, suggesting the future romantic relationship between the two people.
Despite the limitations in the pictorial rendering due to a craftsmanlike execution, this fresco shows admirable attempts at revising the theme, which are exemplified by the chiaroscuro effects, the softness of garments and the use of light.

Cd. Flora

So called Flora
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So called Flora

The fresco in the III Pompeian style, which dates to around 15-45 AD, was discovered in the cubiculum (bedroom) of the Villa of Ariadne in Stabiae in1759.
The fresco, on a green background, shows a barefoot girl, with her back turned, in the act of picking on a little tree with her right hand white flowers that she puts into a kalathos (basket) held in her left hand.
She is wearing a yellow chiton (tunic), which leaves bare her right shoulder, a diadem on her head and an armilla (bracelet) on her right arm. Inspired by figures of the fourth century BC and found together with other three similar frescoes depicting Leda (always on a green background), Medea and Diana (on a blue background) on panels placed in the middle area of the walls of a cubiculum of the villa, it is not known with certainty whether it represents a human or divine figure, a Nymph, Proserpina or Flora, according to the description given by Ovid (Fasti, V. 20ss.).

Europa su toro

Europe on the Bull

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Europe on the Bull

The fresco in the III Pompeian style, which dates to around 20-25 AD, was discovered in the oecus (banqueting-hall) of the House of Jason in Pompeii on July 7th , 1878.
The painting depicts the abduction of Europe, Agenor’s daughter, by Zeus in the guise of a bull. It is, in this case, a revision of the myth of Europe abducted by Zeus, who, according to the classical image, would have taken the girl by sea to the island of Crete, where they begot Minos, Rhadamanthus and Sarpedonte.
The scene takes place against the background of a rocky landscape with trees, shrubs, stepped rocks and a central column with a smooth stem, symbol of sacredness, and an oak tree, sacred to Zeus. The fresco presents a calm and magnificent atmosphere and it seems it derives from a Greek model dating to the end of the fourth century BC.

Medea uccide i figli

Medea kills her sons

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Medea kills her sons

The fresco in the IV Pompeian style, which dates to 62-79 AD, was discovered in the peristilium (colonnade with garden) of the House of the Dioscuri in Pompeii in 1824-1825.
The painting depicts Medea on the point of killing her sons. The woman is looking in a melancholy way at the two kids, who are intent on playing with astragali on a quadrangular base in the presence of a pedagogue standing in front of a door with a sad expression.
The spectator’s attention is almost ravished by Medea’s glance and eyes, which show a mixture of strain and sadness for the action she is on the point of doing.
Pliny the Elder (Naturalis Historia, XXXV, 136) gives information about the theme known through other copies, three of which are kept in the Archeological Museum of Naples (invv. 8976, 111440 and 114321): the theme would derive from a famous fresco by Timomachos of Byzantium and spread under the empire of Claudius even for the influence of Seneca’s tragedies.

Corte ellenistica

Hellenistic court
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Hellenistic court

The megalography in the II Pompeian style, dating to around 60 BC, was discovered in the oecus of the Villa of Fannius Sinistor at Boscoreale and depicts a large room, which is surmounted by an epistyle punctuated by metopes and corollas and is divided almost into two halves by a column with ashlars.
The figure of a man with a Macedonian headwear, lance and shield, that might represent one of the diadochos, Antigono Gonata, appears in the right intercolumniation.
The figure of an old man, probably the pedagogue of the prince, identifiable as Arato of Soli or Menedemo of Eritrea, appears in the left intercolumniation.
The large fresco is considered the reproduction of a famous wall painting of the third century BC, truly present in a public building or in a Macedonian palace, which had a precise meaning for the client that is not well understandable today.
It is clear that the subject evokes the Macedonian reign that represented the model of universal empire by which Rome was inspired.

Nature morte

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Still life

The fresco in the IV Pompeian style, which dates to 62-79 AD, was discovered in the tablinum (reception room) of Praedia of Iulia Felix in Pompeii on July 13th, 1755.
The fresco, removed from the original wall, is inserted in a wooden frame.
Small paintings depicting seaside villas adorn the side partitions on a red background; in the central partition a Maenad and a Satyr are dancing on a tight carpet used as a yellow background; a prominent stucco frame with a denticulate frieze closes the upper part of the partition.
On the upper frieze there are four paintings with still life: the first on the left shows a loaf of bread, a platter and a bowl containing some eggs; the second one various kinds of fresh fish; the third painting shows a silver basket with a spoon on a tray and an oinochòe (jug for wine), in addition to hanging quail; the last one shows a bag of coins and the instrumentum scriptorium (an inkwell, a stylus and a papyrus).

 

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