Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pompeii and Circumstances

Opening this weekend at the National Gallery of Art is Pompeii and the Roman Villa exhibit. Of course, I can't wait for the general opening and decided to slip into the press preview today.
These are some of the most precious artifacts. With almost perfectly intact portrait busts and still life frescoes preserved from the era of Christ, would have any art historian salivating, I would know. But this is not your average snob fest showcase.
NGA went to great lengths to create a gallery for the masses. Here the patron is transported into a roman vacation home situated in Pompeii. From the moment you cross the Greek style threshold, complete with mosaic tiled dog welcome mat, you've stepped into this ancient villa resort.
Pompeii was a prosperous town, made wealthy by its agricultural goods like oil and wine. These products thrived from the rich nutrients provided by the same volcanic ash that would eventually envelop the area. Trade brought great wealth to Pompeii, and "anyone who was anyone had a vacation home in Pompeii, said guest curator Carol C. Mattusch.
Because these were vacations homes, they were used for entertaining, exercise and leisure. “They were fascinated with Greek Style." Mattusch explains. Homes often had several dining rooms, each with seasonal themes in executed in mosaics and frescos.
In this exhibit, entire rooms have been reproduced, but one of the more impressive is the courtyard of a Pompeian home. In the fashion of the Emperor Octavian's taste in the beginning of the century, focus on the interior gardens became the rage.
As you exit the gallery, an interesting tidbit of trivia…the Pompeian style can be scene daily today by some of the worlds most powerful. In the Senate Appropriations Committee room housed in the nation’s capital, the walls have been duplicated from this Greco-Roman Tradition. Something to ponder – the last one was buried in ash almost 2 millennia ago.

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