Mosaics in Pompeii
Mosaic decoration was commonly used in the beautification of both private and public buildings in Pompeii and has been found in all different shapes, sizes locations and with all different purposes. Mosaics were often used as flooring in Pompeii were largely used to decorate floors and entrance walls to houses and other buildings, some representing importance, others advertisement and even propaganda. The panel depicting “The Battle of Alexander” housed in the Archaeological Museum in Naples and originating from the House of the Faun, is, though, one of the most important and magnificent examples.
The Alexander Mosaic was found during the excavation of Pompeii in 1831 in the “Casa del Fauno” (House of the Faun), one of Pompeii’s grandest residences. Today it is one of the most famous Roman mosaics.
The work itse;f measures to 5.82 x 3.13 metres in size and there is debate as to what the mosaic represents, whether it was to depict the Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and the Persian king Darius III in the year 333 BC or the battle of Gaugamela in the year 331 BC, where Alexander the Great and Darius clashed once again.
There is also a belief that a Hellenistic painting was used as the model. The mosaic shows the magnificence of Greek monumental painting and four-colour painting. There is no debate however on its beauty, detail, the skill woven into each detailed plate of mosaic tiles and the time it would have taken to put such a delicate and intricate piece together. The piece is made of roughly 4 million white, yellow, red, and black tesserae. The picture shows Alexander galloping into battle with a mass of troops behind him on the left hand side, pursuing Darius into a battle.
The picture also shows towards the right hand side of the mosaic, the Persians turning to flee, with a fearful loom from Darius as the only thing facing alexander and his men. Today, the original Alexander Mosaic is on display in the National Museum of Archaeology in Naples. An exact copy – identical in shape, size, colour and materials used – was created after several years of work by the Scuola Bottega del Mosaico di Ravenna and is now installed in Pompeii. The painting is described by Pliny the Elder as representing “the battle of Alexander with Darius.” Certain inconsistencies in the mosaic point to its derivation from another source. “The patches basically show us the mosaic through the Romans eyes, and tell us what interested the ancient viewer. Although Darius is the most prominent figure in the mosaic, the Romans were much more interested in Alexander,” he said. The portrait of Alexander corresponds to the so-called Lysippean type, which includes for example the Pergamon Head.
Alexander is not idealised here in the otherwise frequent form: with long curls and full, soft features as the incarnation of Zeus, the sun-god Helios or Apollo […]. His head appears rather more gaunt, with tautly shaped cheeks, marked by suggested or deeply-carved wrinkles and with short hair barely covering his ear. Both types, the realistic and the idealising, do admittedly show the parting of the forelock characteristic of Alexander – here as short, unmanageable strands, in the deifying variation as upwardly radiating pairs of locks. A later, but unmistakeable echo of this hairstyle can be found in the consciously stylised, characteristic forelock of Augustus. Conclusuions we can draw about the spciteies of Pompeii and Herculaneum through looking at this mosaic are It is thought that this house was built shortly after the Roman conquest of Pompeii, and is likely to have been the residence of one of Pompeii’s new, Roman, ruling class.
The mosaic highlights the wealth and power of the occupier of the house. “What is less know is the mosaic’s role as a floor surface in an Italian house. In this role, it has the potential to provide evidence of the tastes, interests and desires of the wealthy Romans during the late Republic,” “There is clear evidence of multiple ancient repairs in these damaged areas. The most recent restorations filled the gaps with mortar, while more ancient repairs used tesserae,” show a keen interest in the arts and that they hold great importance to a fmailies household perhaps sudgesting status in society by their beauty and expence.
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Mosaic decoration was commonly used in the beautification of both private and public buildings in Pompeii and has been found in all different shapes, sizes locations and with all different […]