Fourth Pompeian Style ( 60AD )

The Fourth Style, also called by Mau the “Intricate Style”, can be seen as a combination of the other three styles.

Fresco on a wall in the fourth style
Lucretius House, Pompeii.

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Casa-Lucretius-Fronto-Pompeii.jpg


Fantastic

It is also defined as a “fantastic style” because it is heterogeneous and uses elements from all of the previous styles; it is a mixture of the features of the artistic sensibilities that came before.

The Fourth Style in Roman wall painting is usually less ornamented than the previous one, it can be considered a baroque tendency as a reaction to the Third Style‘s mannerism. The style was way more difficult to understand, it revives large-scale narrative painting and panoramic vistas even if it wanted to retain the architectural details of the Second and First Styles.

ixion room vetii
ixion room vetii, House of the Vetii, Pompeii, Italy, 1st century C.E.

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/f3ce7973-aba3-4ae3-be86-7ef52a4443ba by Jennifer Mei

Style Features

In the Julio-Claudian phase, a textile-like quality dominates and seem to be the connection of all the elements on the wall, the colors became warm once again, and they are used to improve the capability of depicting scenes drawn from mythology, panels were also used featuring floral designs on the walls. One of the largest advancements seen in this painting is the improvement of still life with intense space and light. Shading played a key role in Roman still life. This style never truly gained relevance until the 17th and the 18th centuries with the Dutch and English decorations.

House of Augustus (Domus Augusti), room of the Pine Festoon, decoration with pilastered portico and pine festoons, 2nd Pompeian style, Palatine Hill, Rome
House of Augustus (Domus Augusti), room of the Pine Festoon, decoration with pilastered portico and pine festoons, 2nd Pompeian style, Palatine Hill, Rome

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/ee270f2f-9baf-43bc-8c1e-d57beb91888b by Following Hadrian

Fresco in the Fourth Pompeian Style depicting a menead carrying a thyrsus, from a ceiling of a domus in Colonia Narbo Martius (Narbonne), end of 1st century AD, Empire of colour. From Pompeii to Southern Gaul, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse
Fresco in the Fourth Pompeian Style depicting a menead carrying a thyrsus, from a ceiling of a domus in Colonia Narbo Martius (Narbonne), end of 1st century AD, Empire of colour. From Pompeii to Southern Gaul, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/ab642a11-0ce7-429d-bd12-0d7ecdcc3366 by Following Hadrian

Scenes of heroes and mythological figures were painted with warmer colors and elements and accessories were painted in yellow gold. In the Flavian period, as in the last years of the city of Pompeii, real scenes and great landscapes appeared. Other developments included the depiction of backgrounds, and the introduction of a style consisting of arabesques on a white ground, as in Nero’s Domus Aurea in Rome.

room 78 domus aurea
4th style paintings in the Domus Aurea– room 78 domus aurea

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/7ebea877-8d39-4816-8f69-b4fd8991d082 by Jennifer Mei

'Nerone' exhibition, Palatine Museum: the luxury of the imperial palace, the painted decoration of the Domus Transitoria, Rome
‘Nerone’ exhibition, Palatine Museum: the luxury of the imperial palace, the painted decoration of the Domus Transitoria, Rome

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/56d9d2f2-c72b-4a5d-9887-4e3768cca3b7 by Following Hadrian

Representative examples

An important example of the Fourth Style is the Ixion Room in the House of the Vettii in Pompeii. One of the main contributions that distinguish the Fourth Style from the other ones is the growing importance given to still life with great spaces and lights. Shading was a key factor in Roman still life. This style was never considered important even if in 17th and 18th centuries will be considered important with the contribution of the Dutch and English scholars.

File:Pompeii House of the Vettii 23.jpg
Pompeii House of the Vettii

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/e7882e1c-c963-4658-9edf-663c5ea5e083

File:Pompeii House of the Vettii 26.jpg
Pompeii House of the Vettii

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/0782ba45-0f67-4ab8-9de7-7990655b6364


Info source:

http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/roman/painting.html

 http://www.pompeiin.com/en/Painting_styles.html

 https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/roman/wall-painting/a/roman-wall-painting-styles

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