Fourth Style responses to 'period rooms' of the Second and Third Styles at Villa A ("of Poppaea") at Oplontis

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This essay presents selected examples of the Fourth Style at Villa A (\of Poppaea\") at Oplontis as viewed through a particular analytical lens (for a plan of Villa A, see Abb. 1 in J. R. CLARKE’S article in this volume). The Fourth Style visually dominates at Villa A in total area, but with the exception of the spectacularly vivid garden rooms of the east wing, appreciated for their glowing colour and sophisticated alignment, it is the least-well examined among the three styles present. Not without reason the show-stopping Second Style rooms, particularly the atrium (5) and triclinia (*4, 2ª), have garnered the lion\'s share of attention. In *9+7, J. CLARKE published the first detailed study of all the third Style ensembles 1. The complete record of surviving wall paintings reveals an art historical narrative more complex than a sequenced unfolding of Second, Third, and Fourth Styles 2. This history is shaped by but not utterly dependent on the attendant story told by earth- quakes and economics, and the style narrative undermines attempts to create a straightforward progression through discrete categories, offering up instead a series of permutations and combinations. 5ithin the larger and longer dialog in contemporary scholarship on diachronic studies versus the synchronic consideration of wall paintings as meaningful markers of social use, this examination is intended to mediate between the two. I use both methods of inquiry to consider Fourth Style paintings inserted within earlier decorative programs at the villa. The corpus of \\ampanian wall painting gives examples of painting preservation in the comprehensive decorative system of a house along a calibrated scale of removal, true restoration, or a combination of old and new sections3. This examination considers all three responses in the material record of the villa with an emphasis on the choice by the artists to reveal or conceal the stylistic intervention within the earlier work. The Fourth Style\'s complexity in terms of repertoire and the ability to respond to previous styles is made explicit in a new way in this case study.




Gee, Regina. "Fourth Style responses to 'period rooms' of the Second and Third Styles at Villa A (" of Poppaea" ) at Oplontis." Apelles-Bulletin de l’Association internationale pour la peinture murale antique 468: 89-96. DOI:
Copyright (c) 2002-2022, LYRASIS. All rights reserved.