Roman Culture/Pompeiian paintings
Pompeii is an ancient Roman city located near Naples in the region Campania. The city was buried in 4 meters of pumice and ash from the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius on the morning of august 24th in 79 AD. Because Pompeii was buried in ash, the city was preserved very well. The city allows people now to have a good insight into life in a Roman city during the peak of the Roman Empire. This insight also includes the preservation of the paintings on the walls of the Pompeian homes. The wall paintings are the best preserved of all the home art preserved in Pompeii. These paintings were first assumed to be painted in encaustic or tempera paints with binding agents. Through tests, it was found that buon fresco was actually used to paint the walls. “Buon fresco is a fresco painting technique in which alkaline resistant pigments, ground in water, are applied to plaster when it is still wet”. Buon fresco is durable, but the color will chip off over time. The wall paintings were able to survive because of the durability of the technique and the ash and pumice burying the walls. Most of the paintings were of Greek and Roman mythological stories. Paints that contained these myths were found in all areas, but they tended to be the central painting. Genre scenes and still lifes were often depicted as central scenes too. Genres such as Cult ceremonies, sense at the forum, tavern pictures, depictions of crafts men, and pornography are also depicted. You would also see paintings with these subjects in small side panels and unframed vignettes. You would also find portraits of people in these side panels and vignettes (both framed and unframed). You could also find small images of domestic and other deities in small niches, which were there to honor the gods. Alongside these images were depictions of open areas to create the feeling of more room or of being outside. They would also add dimension to these images by adding shading and perception. Along with these pictures you would find images of stones, architectural façades, windows, and patterns. All of the paintings contained a variety of rich colors to decorate the house. All of these images were combined to entertain the viewer, to tell a story, and to create a certain feeling in the room. These rooms would all have themes depicted through the images, and none of the themes were special for one-purpose rooms. The themes could be used in several different rooms. They created this versatility because the homeowner would often change the purpose of rooms. The only rooms that you would not find this versatility in were the kitchen and utility rooms. “Utility rooms were decorated very simply or not at all”. All of the walls in Pompeii are different, not only in subject but also in techniques used to paint them. Artists were constantly trying new techniques and new things to create the variety we see in the Pompeian paintings today. Even though these walls have been studied extensively, so far there has been very little progress on finding individual artists.
"Buon Fresco." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buon_fresco>. "Pompeii." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompeii>. "Pompeii" The Oxford Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture. Ed. John B. Hattendorf. Oxford University Press, 2007. University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). 12 December 2011 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t231.e0802-s01> "Pompeii" The Oxford Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture. Ed. John B. Hattendorf. Oxford University Press, 2007. University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). 12 December 2011 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t231.e0802-s04>