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Painters and workshops in Pompeii: identifying craftspeople to understand their working practices

Author:

Francesca Bologna

King's College London, GB
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Abstract

Given the scarcity of documentary sources dealing with ancient craft production, when trying to understand the ancient decorating industry’s organisation the close examination of paintings is essential to scholars. My attempt to investigate Pompeian painters’ working practices rests on the identification of individual painters’ hands, specifically those who painted the figurative elements of the wall decoration. In order to do so, I applied a Morellian-inspired method for attribution of authorship, based on the close study of forms and invariant relations between them. This method allows us to pinpoint peculiar geographical distributions or recurring patterns of collaboration between painters, thus determining where and how they worked. My analysis focuses on Third Style paintings in Pompeii (about 20 BC - AD 45) and so far it has led to the identification of five different groups of attributed works which appear to be loosely clustered in the city. This could either point to the existence of roughly defined working ‘areas’ associated with specific groups of painters or as evidence that said craftsmen worked on different buildings in the same area at about the same time, later moving to a different zone or town. I will present and discuss these two possibilities.
How to Cite: Bologna, F., 2016. Painters and workshops in Pompeii: identifying craftspeople to understand their working practices. SHARE: Studies In History, Archaeology, Religion And Conservation, 3(1), pp.42–53. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2016.10076
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Published on 05 Aug 2016.
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