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The aim of the programme is to give as vivid an impression as possible of the way in which the three media of painting, stucco and mosaic were used in overall decorative schemes. The emphasis is on... domestic architecture. The programme also shows the house shapes, lighting conditions and spaces that a Roman decorator was working with. The programme was filmed mainly at Pompeii but it also includes material from Herculaneum, Rome and museums in other parts of the world. It includes such well known sites as the House of the Menander, the House of the Golden Cupids and the Villa of the Mysteries, as well as less familiar material, some of which has not previously been photographed. Mrs. King explains how decorative styles developed during the last century of the Republic and the first century of the Empire, and emphasises the part played by fantasy and illusion. Shebegins with the austere Republican style and shows how it developed into the intricate architectural illusion of the Villa at Boscoreale, the exquisite garden room from Prima Porta, and finally the flamboyant 'stage scenery' of the House of the Vettii, This programme should be of interest not only to students of the Roman Empire but to art historians in general.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A291, The early Roman empire and the rise of Christianity
Item code: A291; 03
First transmission date: 24-04-1974
Published: 1974
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:25:00
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Producer: Mary Hoskins
Contributor: Catherine King
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Roman architecture
Footage description: Introductory shots show Casa Dei Vettii, peristyle and interior, with elaborate wall paintings. Catherine King considers the design as decoration, not works of art. She describes the functions of the various parts of the Roman house. Film of Casa del Menandro, Pompeii Streets and a mosaic floor. The richness of decoration possible in a small town house is illustrated with film of Casa degli Amorini Dorati, in Pompeii. Close ups of mosaic floors and walls, streets, pillars and ceilings and wall paintings. Shots of the garden. Marble plaques. A vista framing a mosaic altar shows how space was created in another small house: House of the Marine Venus, where the courtyard is decorated with wall paintings of Mars and Venus. Looking at the development of style during the last century of the Republic and first of the Empire, we see the austere Casa di Sallust (80 BC) Murals, cornices, floors. The outer Casa dei Griffi shows the developing importance of paint, used to give depth and perspective. The little bedroom of the Villa of the Mysteries, about 30 years later again, shows elaborate wall paintings, but a simple mosaic floor. Use of murals to create an impression of an outside world is shown in the reconstructed Villa Boscoreale in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. Finally a wall painting from the Villa of Prima Porta shows use of the total surface to create the illusion of being in a garden. Wallpaintings in the Villa of the Mysteries showing the use of murals to illustrate an art gallery. Study of the walls of the Cult Room in this villa, illustrating Dionysiacrites. By contrast, simple unpainted stucco ceilings, in Naples Museum. A much larger house, Casa di Rufo, on the outskirts of Pompeii representing a new style of wall and decoration. Walls of the Casa di Farnesina, house, and the entrance hall of the Villa of the Mysteries show similar purely decorative patterning and illustrative painting. Walls and ceiling of Casa degli Amorini Dorati and the geometric patterns of a mosaic floor in Herculaneum complete this section. Finally, the Casa dei Vettii is (?) for a room decorated in the fourth or last Pompeian style, with derivative picture paintings. Two wall paintings now in Naples Museum demonstrate this flamboyant late style. Catherine King sums up in the Peristyle of the Casa de Vetti.
Master spool number: 6HT/71382
Production number: 00525_3103
Videofinder number: 2559
Available to public: no