41 × 51 cm. Castellammare di Stabia, Villa of Ariadne, Room 7Inv. No. 86726.
41 × 51 cm.
Inv. No. 86726.
Castellammare di Stabia, Villa of Ariadne, Room 7
(Castellammare di Stabia, Villa Arianna, Ambiente 7)
Room 7, adjacent to triclinium 3, in an area more recent with respect to the rooms around the atrium, was most likely a study. The N wall collapsed as the hilltop shifted, masonry was in mixed, reticulated and brick works. The wall decoration, in Neronian epoch Fourth Style, is now only partially legible as it was already damaged, probably by Bourbon pickaxes, presumably to discourage subsequent looting. The socle had an ornate panel outlined with golden-yellow textile motifs with aediculae and coffer ceilings. The red central zone had taut yellow “carpets”, decorated below by perforated edges, with small paintings at the centre. Left, a male figure is seated at three-quarters facing right with a patera and below is the lower part of a standing figure. On the S wall the central painting, on a green background, shows a seated couple (Narcissus and nymph?). The painting of the E wall depicts a male. To the sides are architectonic perspectives on a red background with “windows” showing male and female figures reading. Amongst the architectural motifs hanging garlands can be noticed, as well as winged griffins as acroteria. The upper zone, on a yellow background, is decorated with “carpet” borders and compartments on a white background before which are small still life paintings; two painted tablets are preserved in situ: one with figs and the other with a landscape. The floor is tessellated white with two slender black strips.
Fresco: 41 cm high, 51 cm wide.
Provenance: Castellammare di Stabia, Varano hill, Villa Arianna, Room 7.
Medallion of Neronian age painted on the S wall of the room, with bust of male youth on a red background: his face, typically dark skinned, has regular features; his hair, untidy curls. The youth, clad in a simple tunic glimpsed over his left shoulder, holds a silver kantharos. The fresco echoes the previous one (inv. 64825), which was stolen in 1975 from the villa; only recently has it turned up in London and repatriated thanks to the efforts of the Italian Cultural Heritage Protection Unit. Medallions with a figure offering a kantharos as a kind and well-wishing gesture are common in Vesuvian painting (see “Medallion with satyr and maenad” from Pompeii, inv. 20555 in Rediscovering Pompeii, Roma 1990, p. 237, n. 164).