chapter  10
22 Pages

The idea of the city and the excavations at Pompeii

ByMartin Goalen

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At Pompeii, wrote the authors of a work claiming7 to be the first in English to describe the ruins (Sir William Gell and John Gandy’s Pompeiana, of 1817-19), “in the mind of the liberal antiquary the loneliness of the ruins may be animated by learned recollection”. It is a sense of that “civilized life…thinkable only in and because of cities”, noted by Finley, that Mazois, Gell and Gandy seek to recreate. “Animation” of the ruins by “learned recollection” is suggested, for instance, by the frontispiece to Pompeiana (Fig. 10.1), “wholly compiled from paintings and bronzes found at Pompeii”.8 An image is created through the combination of the artefacts of everyday life, the chairs, the tables, the lamps, the paintings, the marbles, with “pavements and distant buildings”.9 Images from different sources are composed, rather in the manner of 20th century collage, to create a new composite image. The second volume of Mazois’s work, Habitations (published in 1824), has a similarly composed frontispiece (Fig. 10.2):

The disposition of the door, the inscription, the mosaic threshold can be seen in several dwellings. The Pilasters and the capitals belong to house no.27,[10] the entablature and the stucco which decorate it, the paintings which ornament the interior frieze, the portico at the end and several other details are taken from various buildings. The fountain can be seen in house no.46, called L’Actéon; [11] the motif of the garden which completes the tableau was given to me by a painting existing in the same place; the two herms are kept at the Musée des Études at Naples; in short all the elements of this composition are antique, and the arrangement in which I offer them gives an exact view of the entry into one of the principal houses of Pompeii.12