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Pompeian Styles

The German archaeologist August Mau was the first scholar to classify the Pompeian painting in four styles.


The first style, called structural style,  referring to the period from the third to the first century BC, was an imitation stucco, often in relief.  Significant examples of this style can be found in the House of the Faun in Pompeii and House Sannitica in Herculaneum.

Herculaneum_Wall_1.Style Casa-di-Sallustio-Pompeii

The second  style, described in detail by Vitruvius, called architectural style, was introduced in the first century  BC, it reworked some element  of the previous style. Inspired by the scene of the Hellenistic-Roman theater of shows structures and  columns, floral elements and animals and illusionistic realism. Examples II style are in the triclinium of the Villa Oplontis, in the Villa of the Mysteries, and the frescoes from the Villa Boscoreale, now preserved at Metropolitan Museum of New York and at the Archaeological Museum of Naples.


The third style, called Pompeian style or ornamental, is caratherized by optical illusion, replaced by solid funds, usually in black, red or white, with a central miniaturistic paintings with mythological episode.  Some of the finest examples of the third style can be admired in the House of the Vetti and the House of Lucretius Fronto.


The fourth style, called fantastic style, shows scenes of heroic-mythological and allegorical figures, painted in warm colors and depicting accessory elements in yellow gold. Many houses were redecorated after the violent earthquake of 62 AD. The House of the Tragic Poet, one of the Vetti and the Menander in Pompeii, the Shrine of the Augustals and the Casa dei Cervi at Herculaneum have some of the finest examples of decorations in the fourth style.



The House of the Chaste Lovers at Pompeii

chaste lovers Pompeii

The House of the Chaste Lovers gets its name from a symposiac painting depicting a couple exchanging a sensual yet chaste kiss during an outdoor summer banquet organized by two men, accompanied with courtesans lounging on beds under a canopy, where music and dance are the frame for wine and love.

The building is actually a bakery with a dining room and annexed living rooms. The walls were decorated with the above painting and two other similar scenes that show, ironically, the “downside” of such merry banquets.

The structure also contains the carcasses in situ of the mules used to drive the millstone for grinding the wheat. The wood-burning oven is clearly visible in the central courtyard. It is very similar to its modern-day counterparts still in use locally, mainly as pizza ovens. The individual steps in the bread-making process are clearly distinguishable in the well-organized bakery setup.

Numerous observations of the repairing works underway in the bakery at the time of the catastrophic eruption reveal that these works were not addressed to repair damages suffered because of the earthquake of 62 AD, but to repair damages caused by the earthquake of just few days before the fateful eruption, maybe an alert. It may also be deduced that other repair works underway at the time in the various buildings of Pompeii can also be attributed to this premonitory sign and not to earthquake of 18 years before. This significantly alters our understanding of the economy and society of Pompeii in the final decades, formerly considered unable to promptly react to the catastrophe and needing a great deal of time for the reconstruction after the earthquake of 62 AD.

The three-dimensional of the garden of the house

The three-dimensional of the garden of the house of the Chaste Lovers

The three-dimensional of the garden of the house
In 2005, on the occasion of the 11th edition of “Three days for the garden” organized by the Italian Environmental Fund (FAI) at the Castello di Masino (Turin), was presented the reconstruction of the Pompeian garden of the house of the Chaste Lovers.
The plastic measuring nine square meters (3.30 x 2.50 m.), made with live plants from the Applied Research Laboratory of the Archaeological Superintendence of Pompeii, rebuilt in all its parts the garden of the House, by a work of investigation conducted on the flower beds and the cavities left by the roots on the ground. The paleo-botanical surveys conducted on the remains came to light at the end of the eighties have allowed the reconstruction of the ancient flora and garden, through the identification of pollen, seeds, and wood.
The garden measuring about 100 square meters and consisted of flowerbeds and tucked divided by paths in clay. In particular, the beds in question formed a complex geometric design, created taking into account the layout of the rooms that once lined so as to lengthen prospectively the depth of the garden itself.

A “transparent” construction site

In 2010, thanks to an initiative launched by the Superintendency of the excavations of Pompeii it was possible to visit the construction site of the Chaste Lovers. It was possible to relive the excitement of archaeological discovery live, thanks to the presence of archaeologists and restorers at work. Through a system of suspended walkways, it was possible to observe from above, perfectly preserved oven of the bakery, the two stables with animal skeletons, a garden faithfully reconstructed and wonderful frescoes and mosaics. A series of multimedia technologies reproduce the virtual reconstruction of the function of the various rooms.
The archaeological works were visible even by way of Abundance through the clear panels. After years of neglect, the site was in fact totally secured and fitted with a cover that ensures the protection, conservation and enhancement.


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