Shelley

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Had a fantastic research moment! From 1854-1896, the Niccolini brothers published in Naples a series of volumes called Le Case ed I monumenti di Pompei disegnati e descritti . There were 4 volumes which aimed to give complete pictures of the finds from selected buildings, not just the art and architecture but the objects found in them. They were groundbreaking at the time because they aimed to consider the disparate information together to build as complete as possible view of each building.

The final volume in 1896 took this much further by giving artists who had worked on the volumes a chance to imagine a building completely restored. Their reconstructions (or ‘restauri’) were accompanied by sketches of the ruins on which they were based. Anyhow, flicking through these I came to one which claimed to be of a house in Regio VIII. But it’s not – it’s not even a house from Pompeii – it is quite clearly the Pompeian Court of the Crystal Palace (the only difference is that the artists has stuck a Roman lady in the atrium and imagined a beautiful blue sky streaming through the compluvium rather than the view of the Palace frame. As far as I know, nobody has ever noticed that this image is an interloper – the Court seems to have done a very good job of passing itself off as a genuine Pompeian house. The joke is even better because Giuseppe Abbate, who decorated the Court, had contributed images of  genuine Pompeian frescoes to the earlier volumes and, in this presentation, he gets to be a ‘real’ Pompeian craftsman. I love this!

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