Drawing mainly from the [photo archive of the Getty Research Institute](http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/photo/index.html), which counts over two million photographs of art historical contents, the exhibition focused on visual documentation of the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum from the time of their rediscovery in the mid-18th century through our time in the early 21st. Early prints and photographs of the sites offer a vivid contrast to contemporary images, which show the passage of time and the recent interventions undertaken to preserve this delicate ancient environment—which, after being buried for 18 centuries, is now exposed to fluctuating environmental conditions in the open air.\n\nWhen they were buried by ash and rock from the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, Pompeii and Herculaneum were busy commercial centers serving the imperial capital of Rome, 150 miles to the north, as well as lavish countryside villas that were home to people connected to the Roman emperor by family, political, or business ties. Some of these houses and villas were beautifully decorated with wall paintings and mosaics, and the exhibition features photos and prints of some of the most renowned of these interiors, such as the House of the Tragic Poet, the House of the Faun, and the House of the Vettii in Pompeii, and the House of the Bicentenary and the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum. The images in the exhibition highlighted the art that enlivened their walls and floors with mythical stories, landscape views, or elaborate decorative elements.\n\nNamed after its mosaic depicting the rehearsal of a satyr play, the House of the Tragic Poet was decorated throughout with scenes from the epic poems of the *Iliad* and the *Odyssey*. French archaeologist Raoul Rochette (1789–1854) was among the first to study and document this house, and he created detailed watercolors that reveal its interiors and wall decorations. Among these early prints, one shows a roofless space with Vesuvius in the background, yet with the original colorful frescoes still adorning the walls of what used to be the main courtyard and reception hall. The photograph below, by contrast, shows the same interior space photographed toward the end of the 19th century. Another plate in Rochette’s publication shows the whole northern wall of the house, featuring on the center the small *lararium*, or family shrine, placed in the garden area. A recent photo of the same wall shows a dramatic transformation over the past 150 years. The light blue in the center of the wall has lost its tone and part of the stucco is gone, and a corrugated roof and structural mesh have been added to preserve what’s left of the interior spaces. Another section of the exhibition presented the [work carried out by the Getty Conservation Institute in Herculaneum](http://www.getty.edu/conservation/our_projects/science/herculaneum/) at the House of the Bicentenary in collaboration with the Herculaneum Conservation Project (HCP) and the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei.\n\nThe exhibition—which offered an interesting complement to the Getty Villa show [*The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection*](http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/pompeii/index.html)—was on view at the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood through November 12, 2012, daily except Sunday. Admission was free.