Woman with wax tablets and stylus (so-called “Sappho”)
Fresco of the Fourth style from Pompeii (VI Insula Occidentalis).
55—79 CE.
H. 37 cm, W. 38 cm.
Naples, National Archaeological MuseumInv. No. 9084.Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen

Woman with wax tablets and stylus (so-called “Sappho”).

Fresco of the Fourth style from Pompeii (VI Insula Occidentalis).
55—79 CE.
H. 37 cm, W. 38 cm.
Inv. No. 9084.

Naples, National Archaeological Museum
(Napoli, Museo archeologico nazionale)

Origin:
Pompeii, 24.05.1760.
Description:
English Tondo of Woman with wax tablets and stylus (so-called “Sappho”), National Archaeological Museum of Naples (inventory no. 9084). Roman fresco of about 50, from Pompeii (VI, Insula Occidentalis) — Discovered in 1760, is one of the most famous and beloved paintings, commonly called Sappho. Actually portrays a high-society Pompeian woman, richly dressed with gold-threaded hair and large gold earrings, bringing the stylus to the mouth and holding the wax tablets, notoriously accounting documents which therefore have nothing to do with poetry and even less with the famous Greek writer.

Italiano Tondo di Donna con tavolette cerate e stilo (cosiddetta “Saffo”), Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (inv. nr. 9084). Affresco romano, del 50 circa, da Pompeii (VI, Insula Occidentalis) — Rinvenuto nel 1760, è uno degli affreschi più noti ed amati, comunemente detto Saffo. Ritrae in realtà una fanciulla dell’alta società pompeiana, riccamente agghindata con una retina d’oro sui capelli e grandi orecchini d’oro; essa porta lo stilo alla bocca e tiene in mano le tavolette cerate, notoriamente documenti contabili che dunque nulla hanno a che vedere con la poesia e ancor meno con la famosa scrittrice greca.

Credits:
2011. Photo, text: Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons (CC0).
Keywords: ζωγραφικήί pictura ars picturae painting pittura malerei peinture φρεσκογραφία τοιχογραφία νωπογραφία wall fresco frescos frescoes opera parietale murale opere parietali murali affresco affreschi freskomalerei frischmalerei wandmalerei fresko fresken fresque fresques pintura mural ρωμαϊκές roman romana romano romani römisch römische römisches römischen römischer romain romaine romains romaines τέταρτο στυλ fourth style iv quarto stile vierte vierter stil quatrième style πομπηία pompeii pompeian pompei pompeiano pompeji pompeianischen pompejanischen pompéi pompéien απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt of a woman female femminile donna weibliches frau de femme paint painting pittura dipinto porträtmalerei gemalte peinture medallion tondo of sappho saffo female hairdo hairstyle coiffure acconciatura pettinatura femminile earring earrings orecchino orecchini scroll book libro tetraptichos tetraptychos stilus stylus stilo style writing implement writing instrument gold golden hair net insula occidentalis vi inv no 9084