Still-life painting in Pompeii and Herculaneum

Wall decorative elements in the "living rooms" of the aristocrats

By Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Still-life painting (62-79 d.C.)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

The still lifes

The subjects of still-life painting were included by the ancients among the things of little importance, or they were even considered despicable. In Roman painting, they appear between the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 1st century BC. On the shuttered paintings or on the paintings of different size, there was a wide variety of subjects subsumed under the category of “utilitas”: edible animals – both living or dead - vegetables and fruits, bread, ricotta and eggs.

Rabbit and figs (45-79 d.C.)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Vasi agonistici (10-37 d.C.)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Still-life painting with a loaf of bread and figs (45-79 d.C.)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Still-life painting (45-79 d.C.)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

The decorative cycle of paintings  commissioned by Q. Granius Vero

The
owner of the House of the Deer, in Herculaneum, had his house
decorated with a series of pictures of still life.

The first panel shows a hanging, plucked chicken, his wings wide open. Next to it is a hanging hare, disembowelled and with its head reclined.

In the central panels, a pomegranate alternates with a red apple, a partridge, and agaric mushrooms, so delicious!

This last panel shows two scenes: the one above depicts specimens of wild game, the lower one represents a group of eels with dangling tails.

Natura morta (54-68 d.C.)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Still-life painting (45-79 d.C.)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Still-life painting (62-79 d.C.)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

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