It is impossible not to feel the power of this face with its intense blue eyes. Several bronze statues like this one were recovered from the Herculaneum home of Julius Caesar’s father-in-law.
It would be a thousand years and the Renaissance before the Western World would once again see great art like that created by the Greek and Roman civilizations. And there are few places where this art has been better preserved than in Pompeii and its sister city of Herculaneum, both buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.
The Archeological Museum of Naples is a must see for anyone interested in the history of art. The building, itself, is worth a visit.
Peggy and I, along with our travelling companions, visited the Archeological Museum of Naples after our tour of Pompeii. Many of the art treasures taken from Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as other locations in ancient Rome, are on display at the museum. Some of these pieces, like the Farnese Bull, (unearthed in Rome 1546 AD) served as inspiration for Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo.
The Farnese Bull, where Dirce is punished by being tied under a bull, is the tallest marble statue ever found from the ancient world. Michelangelo helped restore it by adding the dog. Photoshop and I added the blue background. (It was a lot of work but I figured what the heck… if Michelangelo could go to all of that effort…) (grin)
While sculptures made of marble and bronze have a long life span, paintings and, to a degree, mosaics are much more fragile. It was in the preservation of these latter two art forms that we owe a special vote of thanks to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius. The following four lions are good examples of the mosaics, paintings and sculptures found at the Archeological Museum.
Isn’t this a wonderful mosaic lion… complete with necklace? He almost looks friendly, and definitely wise. Or maybe he just has a hangover.
This painted lion with his wild hairdo and conquered leopard, doesn’t look nearly as friendly. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)
This big guy representing sculpture, definitely looks like someone you would not want to meet on a dark night.
I am not sure that this bas-relief sculpture is a lion but I had to fit him in somewhere. I felt there was a slight resemblance to Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.
Following are more examples of the types of painted murals and mosaics found in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
This great hippo with canine teeth, the smiling crocodile, and what may be a Mallard offering food to his lady-love was one of my favorite mosaics at Naples’s Archeological Museum. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)
Mosaic worked well for this Pompeii skull with his butterfly collar.
And who wouldn’t want this smiling lady skeleton outside to greet trick-or-treaters on Halloween? I figured it was a lady from the hips.
Check out the wine pouring technique of these two sons of Mercury. They were often found in murals in homes and had the responsibility of helping protect the inhabitants. The snakes were also common on murals as bringers of abundance.. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)
Paintings as sophisticated as this one would not be found again until the Renaissance, over a thousand years later.
I will feature several more of the great sculptures found in the Archeological Museum of Naples in my next blog. Here Peggy admires a very big bust of a man missing his brain.