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Panel from a Black Ground Frescoed Room with Architectural Decoration
Boscoreale, Italy (Place Created)
Villa of N. Popidius Florus, Cubiculum 4, Boscoreale, Italy (Place Found)
220 × 180 cm (86 5/8 × 70 7/8 in.)
One of three fresco panels that decorated the same room (Room 4) of the Villa of Numerius Popidius Florus at Boscoreale (see also 72.AG.79.2 and 70.AG.91). These frescoes display fanciful architectural compositions on a black background. Three attenuated columns topped by Corinthian capitals support a narrow decorative entablature with floral acroteria (architectural ornaments) at the corners. A slender candelabrum in the middle of the panel is surmounted by a swan. On the upper right corner of the fresco is a circular shield with ribbons and garlands. The painting style, categorized by scholars as the Third Style of Roman wall painting, features small vignettes and elegant ornamental architecture.
The Villa of Numerius Popidius Florus was built in the early first century B.C., and underwent several modifications before it was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. A variety of objects were found in Room 4, including bronze vessels, lamps, agricultural tools and the remains of iron weaponry, suggesting that it was used for storage by the time of the eruption. Two marble plaques found in the central courtyard reveal the name of the owner, who came from a well-established family in Pompeii. In contrast to the urban houses of Pompeii and the seaside villas overlooking the Bay of Naples, however, the country estates (or villae rusticae) of Boscoreale were working farms. The estate of Numerius Popidius Florus produced wine, which was stored in large jars partially buried in the courtyard. The house itself was richly decorated with frescoes and mosaics and had a small bath complex. Excavated in 1905–1906, the site was subsequently reburied after most of the wall paintings, vessels, and other objects were removed.
Zurlo-Pulzella, Giovanna. La villa de N. Popidius Florus. Fouillee par Mme. Zurlo a Boscoreale (Pisanella). 1906.
Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 41.
Oettel, A. Fundkontexte romischer Vesuvvillen im Gebiet um Pompeji. Die Grabungen von 1894 bis 1908. (Philipp von Zabern: Mainz, 1996), p. 251, cat. no. 21/5d.