Friday, February 21, 2014

Conservation Efforts at The Villa of the Mysteries

Hola darlings!

Blizzard here today, I am home from the office.  It is horrid, absolutely horrid, outside.  Winds in excess of 50 mph and while not much snow, it is fine and gritty snow causing white-out conditions and torturing the eyes and exposed skin of any pedestrian trying to brave the elements.  This is on top of the ice storm yesterday, before the ice melted last evening and thunderstorms and the winds came.  And then, the temperature plunged again.

I came across this striking image at Archaeology Magazine online, and have to show it to you.  I am curious to see if you have the same reaction to it that I did:

(Pasquale Sorrentino)
This panel of the Dionysiac frieze depicts a seated woman, possibly the initiate. A cupid holds a mirror in which her reflection is visible.  Source

Isn't she stunning!  I cannot put my finger on it, but she reminds me of someone.  And there is such a "modern" sensibility about her.  I cannot explain why she strikes me so.  She looks like she could step out of the wall painting and be entirely at home in today's world.  I am also fascinated by her coloration.  It appears she has golden-red hair and possibly blue or light eyes.  She has very fair skin; rather a shock considering this is a fresco from Pompeii.  And the gown she is wearing.  Am I imagining it?  Doesn't it look like something out of Downton Abbey - very Edwardian?  Other women in other sections of the fresco look to be attired in pretty much what one would imagine from Roman times.

The article from which the image above is taken is about the use of some of the most modern conservation techniques (and also tried-and-true techniques) that are being employed to try and save and preserve the incredible frescoes found at Pompeii, these in particular at the Villa of the Mysteries.  When the villa was buried under the ash of the Vesuvius eruption in 79 CE, it was already over 200 years old! 

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