Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabia, Roman cities, were buried by an eruption of Vesuvius in the year A.D. 79. These cities had already suffered from an earthquake in A.D. 63, and were being rapidly rebuilt when they were finally destroyed by the eruption.

Pompeian ornaments - Pompeian Wall Art

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Еxcerpt from the book: A Manual of HISTORIC ORNAMENT TREATING UPON THE EVOLUTION, TRADITION AND DEVELOPMENT OF ARCHITECTURE AND OTHER APPLIED ARTS. PREPARED FOR THE USE OF STUDENTS AND CRAFTSMEN.

BY RICHARD GLAZIER, Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects; Head Master of the Municipal School of Art, Manchester, LONDON: 1899

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The younger Pliny, the historian, was a spectator of the event at Pompeii, and wrote two letters to his friend Tacitus, describing the event and his flight from the doomed city, which remained buried for seventeen centuries, with the treasures of gold and silver, bronzes of rare workmanship, mural paintings on a most magnificent scale, and floors of mosaics of marvelous execution and design; everything affording a vivid glimpse of the domestic and public life of the Romans of the 1st century A.D. 

Herculaneum was discovered in 1709, and Pompeii in 1748 A.D., and from these cities many valuable remains of art have been taken. In the museum at Naples there are over 1,000 mural paintings, some 13,000 small bronzes, over 150 large bronzes of figures and busts, 70 fine large mosaics, together with a splendid collection of marble statuary.

A plan of a Roman house is given on page 23 showing the arrangement of and use of the rooms. The floors covered with mosaics, those of the vestibule, corridors, and small rooms having simple patterns enclosed with borders of the key pattern, or the Guilloche in black, red, grey, and white tesserie. The triclinium, or dining room floor was often a magnificent mosaic representing some mythological or classic subject. The walls were painted in color, usually with a dado ⅙th the height of the wall, with pilasters dividing the wall into rectangular panels and a frieze above (plate 10). 

The general scheme of color was, the dado and pilasters black, the panels red, and the frieze white; or black dado, red pilasters and frieze, with white or yellow panels. The decorations upon these various coloured grounds was light and fanciful, and painted with great delicacy. Representations of architectural forms, such as columns and entablatures, are often rendered in perspective upon the painted walls. A small panel painted with a classical subject usually occupies the center of each wall panel.

The painted ornament has somewhat the same characteristics as the Roman relief work, but is usually much more delicate in treatment. The spiral form and the sheath are always prevalent and from these sheaths and cups grow the finer tendrils or delicately painted spray of foliage, upon which birds are placed.

Stucco enrichments, such as ornamental string courses and mouldings, were frequently combined with the painted ornament; they consist of small details, such as the water-leaf, the egg and dart, and the anthemion, and are repeated in a regular series.