Pompeii and the Roman Villa: New exhibit at NGA

A new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art opened yesterday: Pompeii and the Roman Villa. Preston and I went to see it. For an active two-year old, Preston was surprisingly well-behaved. He was most impressed by the large bronze sculptures of horses’ heads (whazzzaaaat???!!) and the dogs attacking a wild boar (whazzzaaaat???!!).

At one stop Preston did point and say “MOM!!!”. However I couldn’t tell if he was pointing to a statue of Aphrodite or the blonde standing next to it. So I covered both bases with “Yes, that looks like mom, but she’s not here right now”. (The picture at left is not Aphrodite; it’s the daughter of Marcus Nonius Balbus. You’ll have to go to the exhibit to see Aphrodite). :)

The exhibit is in the East building, and is on two floors. The exhibit is free, though I recommend the $5.00 audio tour. I found the sculptures particularly captivating. I hadn’t realized before that the blank eyes on a lot of ancient statues actually originally had inlays. Most of the time such inlays have not survived to the present, but in a number of the exhibit sculptures they do. This made the art even more striking and realistic. The frescoes were amazing; such color and detail. One piece (rather small, maybe 1.5ft on a side) appeared to be drawn in red pencil on marble. The detail on that piece was absolutely amazing. They definitely had some very talented artists 2000 years ago.

The opulence of Pompeii does show through in the sculptures and frescoes. The exhibit also contains paintings and sculptures from the 19th century (and later?) that show an artists’ recreation of Pompeii before the disaster. Wow. I think it was Augustus (Octavius) who was so captivated by the area around Naples that he bought an island.


  1. Eugene

    looking forward for more information about this. thanks for sharing. Eugene

  2. boz

    Since the exhibit runs through March (I think), I’m sure I’ll be back. I wish they allowed photography, but alas…


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