THE EXHIBITION

 

A great exhibition project to recount the fascination that the archaeological site of Pompeii held for artists and the European imagination, from the start of excavations in 1748 to its dramatic bombing in 1943.

Pompeii and Europe. 1748–1943, the exhibition devised by the Superintendent for Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae Massimo Osanna, unfolds along a twofold route, at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples and simultaneously at the Amphitheater in Pompeii, and joins the program of events planned for Expo Milano 2015 in importance and prestige.

The exhibition evokes the history of the Vesuvian city, an inexhaustible source of inspiration, in a constant comparison between the arts and the excavations; a dialogue between archaeologists and historians of art, architecture and literature, all called on to recount the unique story of the rediscovery of Pompeii.

 

Promoted by the Superintendency for Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae and the Directorate General of the Great Pompeii Project, with the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, the exhibition – organized by Electa with an exhibition installation by Francesco Venezia – is structured as a true journey, grand and complex, in which Antiquity enters into a dialogue with Modernity, and nature with the arts and archaeology.

 

curated by

Massimo Osanna, Maria Teresa Caracciolo, Luigi Gallo
exhibition in Naples, MANN – Pompeii and Europe. 1748-1943


Massimo Osanna, Adele Lagi
exhibition in Pompeii, Amphitheater - Pompeii and Europe. Snatched from death. The casts


Massimo Osanna, Ernesto De Carolis, Grete Stefani
exhibition in Pompeii, Amphitheater - Pompeii and Europe. Photography

 

 

 

THEMES

hackert low res

The first discoveries: Herculaneum and Pompeii (1738-1748)    Italian and foreign artists and travelers in Campania

In the second half of the eighteenth century, on a groundwork prepared by more than a century of antiquarian scholarship, the discovery of the Vesuvian archaeological sites acted as an accelerator for a new orientation of taste, the arts and culture.

The fantastic story of the discovery of the theater of Herculaneum, with its excavations shrouded in mystery, also stimulated the sensibility and imagination of the eighteenth century in their incipient awakening.

The result was a first original artistic flowering in a neo-antique key, inspired by the sites, the figures and the finds at Herculaneum and Pompeii, which influenced the figurative arts, ornament and models of architecture.

The exhibition presents the first depiction of the eruption of Vesuvius, an immensely successful image of the last day in the life of Pompeii, painted by Jacob More (1780), which comes from the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. In tempera on paper, the extraordinary painting by Jacob Philipp Hackert (1793) presents a view of the great theater of Pompeii, a loan from the Klassik Stiftung in Weimar.

 

4-delaroche-lowres

The first discoveries: Herculaneum and Pompeii (1738-1748)    Italian and foreign artists and travelers in Campania

In the second half of the eighteenth century, on a groundwork prepared by more than a century of antiquarian scholarship, the discovery of the Vesuvian archaeological sites acted as an accelerator for a new orientation of taste, the arts and culture.

The fantastic story of the discovery of the theater of Herculaneum, with its excavations shrouded in mystery, also stimulated the sensibility and imagination of the eighteenth century in their incipient awakening.

The result was a first original artistic flowering in a neo-antique key, inspired by the sites, the figures and the finds at Herculaneum and Pompeii, which influenced the figurative arts, ornament and models of architecture.

The exhibition presents the first depiction of the eruption of Vesuvius, an immensely successful image of the last day in the life of Pompeii, painted by Jacob More (1780), which comes from the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. In tempera on paper, the extraordinary painting by Jacob Philipp Hackert (1793) presents a view of the great theater of Pompeii, a loan from the Klassik Stiftung in Weimar.

 

From excavations to everyday life, scenery, the decorative arts and fashion

In the early nineteenth century, a more rigorously scientific approach and the liberalization and promotion of the excavation work increased the impact of the forms of Pompeian civilization on painting, the decorative arts, architecture, stage design, costume, fashions and more generally on the daily life of the great European cities. With the temporary conclusion of the French Revolution, the new classes emerged from the wreckage of the ancient  regime to rediscover the pleasures of life. Unearthed and disseminated by images, the paintings and objects from Pompeii also became the vehicles for expressing a newfound joy in life, with sensuous pleasure heightened by the proximity of danger and the risk of death. In this way the forms of modern life were adapted to the customs and usages of the ancients.
Examples of this season are the oil on canvas by Christen Købke depicting the Forum of Pompeii (1840), from the Museum for Kunst & Visuel Kultur of Brandts in Denmark; the picture painted by Paul Delaroche Jeune fille dans une vasque (1845), from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Besançon, and Achilles and the Centaur Chiron (1858) by Gustave Moreau, from the artist’s museum  in Paris.

palizzi-lowres

Towards the unification of Italy (1815-1860)

 

With the collapse of the First French Empire and the new order imposed in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna, an age of deep pessimism began in Europe.
Romanticism now flourished, extending from the North to central and southern Europe. The history of Pompeii followed the evolution of thought and culture from the end of the second decade of the nineteenth century.

Novels, operas, plays and paintings recounted the fateful eruption of  79 AD in a catastrophic and fatalistic key, as in the painting by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes of 1813, from the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse, at times associating the episode with the new and characteristically nineteenth-century vision of a fervent and youthful Christianity triumphing over a refined but decadent pagan antiquity. Access to the excavations, gradually facilitated during the century, enabled writers, painters and architects to explore the ancient city. The ruins of Pompeii, emerging in a remarkable state of preservation from the lapilli, made it possible to accurately imagine everyday life in the Domus – see the sketch by Félix Duban A Pompéi, composition synthetique, from the École Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris – and in the public places of the Campanian city, whose spaces were reproduced in paintings, decorations, academic exercises and architectural projects, and even in actual period rooms and princely residences. The original polychrome decoration of the Pompeian monuments also stimulated the emergence of a debate about architectural decoration that was a feature of the mid-nineteenth century.

Archaeology in a Unified Italy

In 1860, in a Unified Italy, the new King Victor Emmanuel II and his minister Cavour wished to adopt a more rational policy for Pompeii.

The new director of the excavations was Giuseppe Fiorelli, the inventor, among many other innovations in the design and management of the work, of an original method for making plaster casts that reproduced the attitude of the bodies of the Pompeians surprised by death.
The volcanic ash solidified around the corpses of the victims of the eruption had formed true natural molds into which liquid plaster could be poured to restore the forms of their bodies.

On display in the excavations is Thirst (1934) by Arturo Martini, from the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, which confirms the profound impression that the vision of the casts in Pompeii exerted on the artist.

Of great importance for the development of a modern approach to the site was the establishment of “School of Pompeii”, founded in 1866 by Giuseppe Fiorelli. Its approach contrasted with the Bourbon diggings which had led to the loss of much information concerning the city. In the second half of the nineteenth century, following the impulse given by the directors who followed Fiorelli, the excavations of Pompeii were put on an increasingly scholarly footing, down to the present.

From the House of the Faun comes the lekythos in the Auldjo Collection at the British Museum in London.
Now clearly separated from the archaeological sphere, figurative art in the later nineteenth century sought to experiment with new ways to evoke Pompeii between past and present, investigating aspects of everyday social life, embodied in the relics that emerged from the excavations. A similar approach was followed by architecture, equally influenced by the forms of the monumental buildings and the most intimate aspects of domestic life. A fascinating image is presented in Filippo Palizzi’s painting, Maiden Meditating on the Excavations of Pompeii (1870) from a private collection.

At the end of the nineteenth century the systematic excavation of the houses (domus) revealed the exceptional state of preservation of the House of the Centenary (1879), the House of the Vettii (1894-1895) and the House of the Prince of Naples (1896-1897), whose painted walls always astonished the growing number of visitors. In 1910 Vittorio Spinazzola undertook the excavation of the eastern tract of Via dell’Abbondanza, beyond its intersection with Via Stabiana. The undertaking was epic because it involved physically joining up the city’s great monuments, the Forum, the Theater and the Amphitheater, making it possible to traverse the most significant areas of the urban space. The monumental façades, covered by dozens of electoral slogans, immediately reflected the vitality of the ancient city.

de chiricoper sito

Pompeii in Twentieth-century art

The art of the twentieth century perpetuates the fascination with Pompeii, as shown
by the outstanding artworks on loan in the exhibition: from the Musée Picasso comes Deux femmes courants sur la plage (1922) and from the Museo Revoltella in Trieste
The Gladiators (1927) by Giorgio de Chirico.

The multiplication of photographic images was the most marked innovation of these years: images of the city spread through the world, revealing the state of progress
of the work and the wealth of art objects, jewels and ornaments that continued to emerge from the excavations.

In Pompeii the advent of photography proved to be a valuable instrument for documenting the archaeological excavations. In the late nineteenth photographers had replaced the painters of views, creating images to serve as souvenirs for travelers; then, in the early twentieth century, a start was also made on photographing the details of the buildings and their decorations. All this has provided a wealth of information of unparalleled historical and archaeological value, in particular in the reproduction of details effaced or damaged by time.

In 1924 Amedeo Maiuri replaced Spinazzola as the director and remained in charge until 1961.

He was responsible for the extension of the excavations still visited today. The goal is to reclaim the city in its entirety, with the utmost scholarly accuracy. A similar tendency is found in the films inspired by Bulwer-Lytton's novel, The Last Days of Pompeii. Since 1900 films have followed each other at close intervals, attracting audiences worldwide, as did the drawings for academic competitions. Artists continued to visit the ancient city, drawing inspiration from the extraordinary impression of life that it emanates. It has also exerted an influence on psychoanalytic literature and the Surrealist movement.

The revival of Pompeii, strongly supported by the Fascist government and publicized in newsreels, was brutally interrupted by the air raids on August 24, 1943.

top
Per offrirti il miglior servizio possibile questo sito utilizza cookies. Continuando la navigazione nel sito acconsenti al loro impiego in conformità alla nostra Cookie Policy Informativa