“Pompeii in Color” Exhibition

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

poster for “Pompeii in Color” Exhibition
[Image: Painter at work, 1st century CE, Fresco, House of the Surgeon, Pompeii. H. 45.4 cm; W. 45 cm. National Archaeological Museum of Naples: MANN 9018. Image © Photographic Archive, National Archaeological Museum of Naples.]

This event has ended.

Exhibition of Roman Frescoes from the Doomed City opens January 26 at NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

When archaeologists in Pompeii excavated the so-called House of the Painters at Work, they realized the home had been undergoing a major redecorating project in 79 CE, when Mount Vesuvius erupted. Pots of pigment, mixing bowls, tools, and containers of plaster, as well as traces of scaffolding, were found on the site alongside a half-finished fresco. Although the artwork itself is incomplete, its discovery helped illuminate the Roman painting process, filling in the steps used in the technique of buon fresco (literally, true fresh).

Opening on Wednesday, Jan. 26, a public exhibition at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, Pompeii in Color: The Life of Roman Wall Painting, will show 35 frescoes from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Among these important works—originally from Roman homes—are paintings representing dynamic mythological scenes, inviting landscapes, sumptuous still lifes, astonishing trompe-l’oeil, captivating portraits, and energetic genre scenes from a vanished world that most people know only by the volcanic eruption.

The works to be presented at the Institute’s galleries at 15 East 84th Street in Manhattan are seldom exhibited outside Italy. Their appearance provides a thrilling view of ancient painting, the tastes and values of the Romans who lived with these works, as well as the techniques used by the artists who created them. The remarkably well-preserved frescoes from lost villas invite us to see beyond the ashes of the tragic city, and instead experience the vibrant world of the ancient Roman home as the Pompeians themselves knew it. Just as intriguingly, this exhibition also raises many of the same questions that we do today when we enter a home: What stories are being told through décor, and how and why? And what can these images show us about the world that a person inhabits?



from January 26, 2022 to May 29, 2022

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