Painted roundel with portraits of a man and a woman


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This roundel or medallion originally formed part of the decorative scheme on a painted wall in a house in Pompeii. The man is shown bare-chested and the woman, whose hairstyle suggests an Augustan date, is wearing a powder-blue tunic and a matching headband. They may have been members of the family that owned the house when the decoration was painted. The impression certainly is of realistic rather than idealized portraits. The medallion typically would have been on a wall divided into several blocks of flat colour - often red or blue - by elaborate, sometimes quite spindly elements such as columns, lamp-stands or mythical animals. This decorative technique, known as the third Pompeiian style of wall-painting, became popular from about 30 BC until the mid-first century AD. A square panel from another third style wall, showing Ulysses and the Sirens, is also in the British Museum.

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  • Title: Painted roundel with portraits of a man and a woman
  • Date Created: -20/20
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 14.00cm; Width: 17.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Registration number: 1856,1226.1621
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Pompeii
  • Period/culture: Roman
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Temple, William