Tag: fresco

A Tabby Cat Tours Pompeii’s Newly Restored Roman Mansion

This is only tangentially related to cats, but 1) It’s awesome, 2) It represents one of the best surviving examples of Roman home life, and 3) Cats invited themselves to the party.

The AP has a story and an extensive photo gallery of what it calls “newly restored remains of an opulent house in Pompeii that likely belonged to two former slaves who became rich through the wine trade offer visitors an exceptional peek at details of domestic life in the doomed Roman city.”

The House of Vettii was known as Domus Vettiorum in Latin and its owners, Aulus Vettius Conviva and Aulus Vettius Restitutus, were freed slaves who used their knowledge of wine — probably gleaned from their former dominus — to launch a successful business which propelled them to the economic heights of Roman society.

And who do we have there in slide number 16 of the photo gallery? A tabby cat, checking out the restored lararium, a nook where Romans would venerate their “household gods.”

A tabby cat prowls the House of the Vettii in Pompei. Credit: AP

The Vettii spared no expense when it came to hiring the best craftsmen and artists to lavishly decorate their home, covering the walls with scenes from Greek and Roman mythology. It took 20 years to restore the domus to much of its former glory

“They evidently tried to show their new status also through culture and through Greek mythological paintings, and it’s all about saying, ‘We’ve made it and so we are part of this elite’” of the Roman world, said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, a German archeologist who is now the director of the Pompeii archaeological park.

Looking at the restored home, it’s clear shows like HBO’s Rome and Starz’ Spartacus did a good job of portraying what Roman houses looked like on the inside, and how individual rooms were used by the people who lived in the homes as well as their servants:

Well-preserved walls show meticulously rendered scenes in the House of the Vettii. Credit: AP

We tend to think of ancient Greek and Roman buildings as monochrome since the paint has long worn off most structures, but the unique circumstances of Pompeii allowed some homes and other structures to remain largely preserved under volcanic debris since 79 AD.

Here’s a scene from Rome showing the interior of Servilia’s home, giving us an idea of how a wealthy Roman’s house would have looked in contemporary times:

Servilia and Octavia from HBO’s Rome. Credit: HBO

Buddy Commissions Fresco Of His Great Victory Over Rodent

NEW YORK — Buddy the Cat’s human servant returned home Friday to discover the buzz of craftsmen and smell of fresh paint after the silver tabby commissioned a fresco to celebrate his recent victory over a menacing rodent.

Amid the commotion was Luigi Tettamanzi, 62, one of Italy’s foremost Renaissance revivalists. The artist crouched on one knee, applying fine brush strokes to render the beginnings of a sun beam illuminating a powerful feline form in mid-leap with claws extended.

The fresh plaster had already been painted with a luminous sky blue, and broad strokes outlined the suggestion of mountains and forests in the background.

“You see, yes, I use bright and dramatic colors on the arriccio, paint you very heroic, ah?” Tettamanzi told the famously egotistical feline as they conferred during a break. “Not to worry, my friend. I make sure is okay with you before I apply intonaco, yes.”

At Buddy’s instruction, Tettamanzi had begun to render the mouse as a savage and menacing beast several hundred times its actual size. The painting shows a trail of death and destruction behind the mouse, with terrified onlookers pointing at the majestic feline leaping to engage the monstrous rodent. His outstretched paw connects with the enemy, the strike represented with a brilliant flash of energy in chaotic brush strokes.

A cartouche above the painting identifies it as “The Battle of the Rodential Interloper: Year 7 A.B. Resulting In Glorious Buddesian Victory.”

An early concept drawing of the intruder.

For several long moments, Big Buddy could only stare, dumbfounded.

Buuuuud!” the human finally said, incredulity in his voice. “What the hell are you doing?”

The tabby looked up from some concept drawings he was reviewing with Tettamanzi.

“Commemorating my victory, of course,” Buddy replied. “The painting represents my heroic actions that day, when I saved many humans from a sinister and vicious rodent-beast.”

The human sighed.

“No, you did not!” he said. “You slept through the whole thing. You didn’t even know the mouse was here until you woke up from your nap an hour later.”

“Fake news!” Buddy said, turning back to Tettamanzi to confer on palette choices and urge the artist to make him look more muscular.

As of press time the fresco had been extended to a second wall, with a new panel depicting a powerfully built Buddy atop a throne adorned with lion motifs, and humans bending the knee before him as he magnanimously accepts oaths of loyalty.

A “more accurate” version, according to Buddy, but still not as dramatic as the real battle.