Thursday, December 9, 2010

Villa Poppaea/Oplontis and a toilet in the Stabian Baths

It has been argued that it should be possible to identify different painters and workshops in Campania, due to the large amount of remaining frescoes. I am, however, sceptic – it kind of strikes me about as ridiculous as when historians and archaeologists try to attribute red and black figure vessels to specific Athenian masters, or even worse, their pupils and co-workers.

I, however, found a very interesting example where I believe that a connection can be made as I noticed that the public latrine at the Stabian baths are decorated in the same very easily recognizable style as the perisyle and grand corridor at Oplontis/Villa Poppaea. I unfortunately cannot provide any pictures of my own from the Stabian baths as they are currently under reconstruction, but you can see how the latrine looks at Pompeii in Pictures. It should probably be noticed that I can not imagine that nobody else have recognized this already, it is simply too obvious to be overseen.

Anyway, the matter makes me terrible curious. What this possible connection could be made up by can of course be discussed – it could be as simple as an imitation, or the work of a specific workshop. It could also be speculated that this was a standard pattern (although I very much doubt that, considering that I’ve only seen it at two different places) or that the person who owned the villa liked the style and ordered it to be painted at other locations as well. The later explanation would, however, suggest that the owner of the villa at Oplontis had something to do with the Stabian baths - and that he, if this was the case, wanted to use the same style in a (presumably) public and important part of his own, very luxurious, villa and in a public latrine.

The Peristyle at Oplontis (Villa Poppaea). Notice the wall paintings.

Detail of the painting I'm interested in at the moment.

The same style can be found in the grand corridor somewhat further into the villa.


Anonymous said...

See journal article by Crispin Corrado Goulet, “The ‘Zebra Stripe’ Design: An Investigation of Roman Wall Painting in the Periphery” in Rivista di Studi Pompeiani, Vol. XII (2003)

Patrik Klingborg said...

It is no doubt interesting and I will take a look at the article you recommend. I have, however, since I wrote this post, found a number of "zebra paintings" in the Naples region (e.g. Casa del torrello boronzo and Porta Marina (right hand side).