Unique exhibition of Roman-era painting in Rome

Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:29pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters Life!) - How did ancient Roman nobles relax when they returned to their homes at night after a hard day's politicking at the Senate or the Forum?

In part by looking at the frescos on the walls of their sumptuous homes -- the "patrician domus" in the capital of the empire or in cities such as Pompeii and Herculaneum.

"The rich Romans liked to create a world of dreams in their homes," said Eugenio La Rocca, curator of a new exhibition "Rome - Paintings of an Empire."

In the past, art lovers would have to travel to numerous museums in Italy and abroad to see the frescoes -- Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Sicily, the Vatican, the Louvre, the British Museum, Berlin's Staatliche and Moscow's Puskin.

But this exhibition offers a one-stop drooling spree for lovers of Roman-era painting.

"This is not an exhibition of archaeology. It's an exhibition of paintings," said La Rocca, as he guided visitors around the exhibition in a building that once housed the horses and carriages of the popes and kings of Italy.

The exhibition includes 100 stunning pieces, most of them frescoes from patrician Roman villas that were discovered in the Rome and Naples areas from the 17th century onwards.

It gives a glimpse into how the Roman nobles decorated their homes with a mix of portraits, snippets of every-day life and scenes from mythology.   Continued...

<p>The "The Three Graces", a piece of a fresco taken from the home of a noble Roman in Pompeii, is one of the 100 paintings from an exhibition in Rome called "The Paintings of an Empire", September 24, 2009. REUTERS/Palaexpo Exhibition Organization/Handout</p>