On a cream ground, with a blue and gold border on four sides, with a rectangular panel at the centre along the lower border, outlined in red, with bifurcating vines emerging from red projections at the top corners, the panel with a seaside landscape, with two figures standing on either side of a building fronted by a colonnade
With Vanessa Purcell & Co, Manchester, England, 1996 Pennsylvania private collection, acquired from the above 21 March 1996 Christie's, New York, 13 December 2013, lot 133 American private collection, 2013-2019
Much of what we know about the techniques of Roman wall painting comes from Pliny’s Natural History and Vitruvius’ manual De Architectura. Vitruvius describes the elaborate preparation employed by wall painters to produce a mirror-like sheen on the surface. Preliminary drawings or light incisions were then used to guide the artist in painting the fresh plaster of the walls with bold primary colours. Softer, pastel colours were often added on dry plaster in a subsequent phase. Vitruvius also explains the pigments used. Red was derived either from cinnabar, red ochre, or from heating white lead. For further discussion, see R. Ling, Roman Painting, Cambridge, 1991.
The third style of Roman fresco painting, Ornamental, dates from 20 BC to 20 AD. In it, there is a closing up of space. Illusion is rejected in favour of ornamentation. Largely monochromatic walls were often painted with a few pieces of architecture. For instance, candelabra or slender columns were used to divide the wall into separate sections. These sections then supported smaller, framed paintings, set up in the fashion of an art gallery.
For similar rectangular landscape scenes set in the centre of cream-ground panels, placed high on the walls of a third-style peristyle, see F. Coarelli, ed., Pompeii, 2002, p. 264. For seaside landscapes on wall paintings see J. Ward-Perkins and A. Claridge, Pompeii A.D. 79, vol. II., 1978, nos. 5 and 7, p. 119.