Late Roman, ca. 1st century CE. An incredibly rare fresco painting depicting a pair of nude / partially nude women in dancelike poses within a colonnade, the petite women and their flowing scarves are delineated with fine lines and three-dimensional modeling, and the architecture is decorated with what appear to be phytomorphic and geometric motifs of sky blue, teal, golden yellow, red, and cream hues. In addition to the artist's ability to delineate depth of field and capture the movement of the lovely ladies below - clearly indicating the advances of Classical Art - the rarity of this piece is undeniable. Aside from vase painting, paintings from the Classical World are quite unusual, and this wall painting, possibly from Herculaneaum or Pompeii, is extremely rare. Size: 16.5" L x 12.75" W (41.9 cm x 32.4 cm)
This is an example of a Roman Fourth Style wall painting. Fourth Style paintings reflect a taste for illusionism and rose to popularity during the mid 1st century CE. According to art historian Fred Kleiner, "it was the preferred manner of mural decoration at Pompeii when the eruption of Vesuvius buried the town in volcanic ash in 79." In Fourth Style wall paintings, the walls were usually painted a creamy white, and the illusionistic compositions resulted in views beyond the wall that also presented irrational architectural vistas with figures that were oftentimes out of scale as displayed in this example. Interestingly, scholar Paul Zanker has stated that Fourth Style wall painting were designed to turn the rooms into picture galleries called pinacothecae. (See Zanker, P. 1998. Pompeii: Public and Private Life. Trans. D. L. Schneider. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.)
Pompeii was destroyed by and buried under the ash of a volcanic eruption in the year 79 CE. This natural catastrophe resulted in the preservation of extraordinary archaeological remains of the Roman town. The remains of Pompeii have been an invaluable resource for studying the Roman world.
For a similar example, see panels of the upper border of the Fourth Style paintings in the Ixion Room (triclinium P) of the House of the Vetti (Casa dei Vettii), Pompeii, Italy, ca. 70-79 CE or room 78 of the Domus Aurea (Golden House) of Nero, Rome, Italy, 64-68 CE. (Fred Kleiner, Gardner's Art through the Ages, Volume 1, Figures 7-22 and 7-23, p. 195).
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-William Froelich collection, New York, New York, 1970's
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Repaired/restored from multiple pieces with some visible fissures. Cleaned by Joseph Ternbach in Forest Hills, New York in the mid to late 1950's. Relatively little touch up consolidation. Surface wear with some pitting, abrasions, and pigment loss commensurate with age. Set in a plaster matrix, with a wooden backing for added support.