Pompeii

.. nfined to the paintings in the best rooms of the house, the others being much more simply decorated. ( Kraus 156) The First Style (or incrustation). It has also been called the masonry style because the decorator tried to imitate, using stucco relief, the appearance of expensive and costly marble panels. It appeared about 200 B.C., when it became fashionable to paint the inner walls of private houses as well as public and religious buildings.

This decorative mode was of Greek derivation, directly inspired by the isodomic masonry technique, and used polychrome stucco to reproduce the projecting elements such as the dado, the middle zone in large panels, the upper zone in smaller panels, the cornices, and sometimes the pilasters which articulate the walls vertically. The lively color contrast are no more than a translation into the pictorial idiom of the Hellenistic innovation of employing various types and colors of marble, in the realization of the single elements. ( Giuntoli 6). They give an illusion of actual marble panels. Roman paintings were true frescoes, the colors were applied while the plaster was still damp, but the brilliance of the surfaces was achieved by painstaking preparation of the wall.

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The plaster was combined with marble dust if the patron could afford it. Obviously incrustation was a process of decoration often beyond the reach of any but the most powerful and wealthiest. A good example of the First Style is The North wall of the tablinum, House of Sallust. (pic. 1). , of unknown artist, this painted wall in Pompeii is about 12 x 8. Despite some later alterations and additions, the nucleus of this house, the rooms around the atrium(The court of a roman house that is near the entrance and open to the sky), stayed as it was until the end of the Tufa period.

The decoration of the tablinum has a band along the base of the wall (a dado), which is mounted by painted and stuccoed imitations of large stone blocks (orthostates). These blocks are outlined and give a good idea of the colorfulness typical of this style(red, yellow, orange and green). In this style there is no figuration or ornamental motifs. The wall is divided into three horizontal zones and the top area was a painted cornice. There is no hidden symbolism or religious meaning in this particular painting. It is probably been done at the late phase of the style, the individual field were once again enclosed in a real three-dimensional framework of stucco rather than relying only on illusionistic painting.

( Kraus 165) The Second Style, also called architectural, became popular in the years when Sullas military colony was established, around 80 B.C. The decoration on the walls proposed perspective views with architectural elements illusionistically articulated on different planes with foreshortenings and complex perspetive effects which culminated in breaking through the wall towards an imaginary open space. The immediate models were the illusionistic stage sets of the Hellenistic-Roman theater and the new baroque fashions of 2nd-1st cent. B.C. architecture. (Giuntoli 6).

Some scholars have argued that this style also has precedents in Greece, but most believe that is roman invention. The aim of this style painters was not to create the appearance of elegant marble walls, but rather to dissolve the confining walls of a room and replace them with the illusion of a three dimensional world constructed in the artists imagination. It seems he is inviting us into his world. In the cubiculum 16, in the Villa of the Mysteries, we can see how this style is characterized by painted columns breaking through the picture plane, architectural vistas teasing the eye with perspective recessions (Pompeii 1). It seems that the aim of the artist is to make the room look larger, and also appears deeper than it really is.

He uses bright colors to achieved these effects. There is an optical effect stronger than the one of the First Style. The Third Style, or ornamental, was a reaction to the illusionism of Style II, together with the preference for a more classic typical art of the Augustan period. Painters no longer wanted to replace the walls with three-dimensional worlds of their own creation. Instead they decorated the homes of rich Romans with delicate linear fantasies, The walls are once more simple flat surfaces which mark the boundaries of an enclosed space are subdivided horizontally and vertically into monochrome areas articulated by slender architectural and decorative elements.

The focal point is a painting in the center, generally of mythological, religious or idyllic subject, set inside an aedicule flanked by panels with small scenes suspended in the center which depict miniature figures and landscapes. (Giuntoli 7). In the North wall of the red cubiculum, from the Villa of Boscotrecase, in the Museo Nazionale, Naples, we have one of the best examples of the 3rd Style. The villa was owned by Agrippa Postumus and was decorated about 11 B.C. We can see here, a landscape, in the middle of the red wall, representing a sacred precint dominated by the statue of a seated goddess.

It measures only 15 by 179, and it was appropriate to this hall of 198 by 29, one of the largest in Pompeii. It does not fill the whole wall as in the Third Style, now is only a picture in every central wall. It is almost square and has smaller dimensions. The artist wanted to give us the impression of a picture hanging on the wall. The colors have changed from lively reds, greens and oranges to broken tones, combining soft browns, a green somewhat on the blue side and an unusual violet.

Now, we begin to see a contour around the figures. The Fourth Style, became popular in the period of Claudius and Nero, when the earthquake struck in A.D. 72 and the Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Returns once again to the architectural illusionism. It is inspired by the Second and Third styles.

It was originated in Rome. The colors are more decided and tend to contrasting lively color effects, the decorative element multiply and crowd together, alternating with illusionistic architectural views and pictures of mythological subjects often painted in the impressionistic technique. A particular type is that of suspended carpets with small pictures and figures in the center, inspired by the Hellenistic fashion of hanging decorative tapestries on the walls. ( Giuntoli 7). In the Large hall, House of Fabius Rufus, we have one of the best examples of the 4th Style.

The house is situated on the southwest edge of the city and it has a splendid view of the sea, it is the largest room of the house. On a black-ground enlived by animals, vases, musical instruments and others, we can see the three-dimensional effects, enhanced, for example by the woman on the balcony on the left. Apollo, Bachus and Venus appear in the main picture, in the upper zone above them is Leda with her swan, and small personifications of muses stand alone in the sides. The decoration stands out because of the blackground. From personal experience, I can say that after touring Pompeii, I was glad that such a catastrophe preserved the city.

If you enjoy art, it is a must see. Arts and Paintings.

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