Nilotic landscape with pygmies
The painting in the IV Pompeian style, which dates back to the second half of the first century AD (45-89 AD), was found in July 1882 and removed from the podium of the peristilium (colonnade) that surrounded the garden of the House of the Physician.
The cycle, in its integrity, depicted pygmies fighting against crocodiles and hippos.
The pygmies, in Hellenistic times, were the symbol of an exotic world, viewed in its grotesque and humorous aspects.
The depicted theme was, in Roman Ages, one of the most favourite for the decoration of the stone triclinia designed for the rest, but also for the pleasures of the landlord and usually placed in open spaces. The erotic scene, which is accompanied by music and takes place under a tent, is depicted in a fresco in Pompeii on the front of the right panel of the summer triclinium (p) (banqueting–hall) positioned under a pergola in the House of the Ephebe.
The ivory statuette of Indian production was discovered in the House of the Indian Statuette in Pompeii between 1930 and 1935. It can be dated to the first half of the first century AD.
The statuette depicts Lakshmi, the Indian goddess of feminine beauty and fertility. Naked, with two handmaidens at her sides bearing toiletries, her body is adorned with heavy jewels; her long hair, also richly decorated, flows down to her waist.
It’s probably one of the apophoreta (gifts to take away), prizes for winning the dice games which took place during the numerous banquets. A round hole above the head suggests, however, that the statuette served the purpose of a handle, probably for a toiletry object.
This sculpture represents an important indication of the trade relations that existed already by the first century AD between the Western Mediterranean countries and the East by means of the port of Puteoli, known today as Pozzuoli.
Aphrodite unfastening a sandal, the so-called Venus in bikini
The statuette, which was found in Pompeii, can be dated between the first century BC and the first century AD. It depicts Aphrodite in the act of unfastening the sandal of her left foot, under which is a small Eros touching the sole of the sandal with his right hand.
The goddess is leaning, with her left handless arm, on a naked and bearded figure of Priapus. Aphrodite, almost completely naked, is wearing only a sort of bathing suit: the “bikini”, for which the statuette is famous, is the result of the skillful use of the technique of gilding also used in the string on the groin and in the armilla (bracelet) on the right wrist of Aphrodite, as well as on Priapus’ phallus.
Traces of red colour are visible on the trunk of the tree, on the short curls gathered into a bun and on the lips of the goddess, as well as on Priapus’ and Eros’ heads.
Aphrodite’s eyes are made of vitreous paste, while the presence of holes in the earlobes suggest the existence of precious metal earrings now lost.
Polyphemus and Galatea
The painting in the IV Pompeian style can be dated to the second half of the first century AD (45-89 AD) according to a stylistic analysis and the context. It was found in the room 15 of the House of the Ancient Hunt in Pompeii in 1834.
The small painting depicts a sex kiss between the cyclops Polyphemus and the nymph Galatea on a neutral background. The dark complexion of Polyphemus, whose identity is revealed by the presence, on the left, of a ram, a syrinx (a wind instrument similar to a flute) and a shepherd’s crook, contrasts the rose pink complexion of the nymph backviewed and represented as a maiden with a sinuous figure.
The figures are portrayed with rapid and light brush-strokes, almost designed to express the sensitivity of the theme.
The subject has the peculiarity of identifying a rather unusual vein of the myth: in the most famous version, in fact, Galatea never accepted the courtship of Polyphemus, because of her love for the shepherd Acis.
The painting in the IV Pompeian style can be dated to the second half of the first century (45-89 AD) according to a stylistic analysis and the context. It comes from Pompeii or from the ancient sites of the Vesuvian arena.
The scene represents, on a white background, a male figure, naked and lying on a foot-rounded bed; his right arm is along the side of his body, while his left arm is raised to the breast of the naked woman, sitting with her legs apart on the man’s body.