Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pompeii No.56: The Tympanum

In Pompeii No. 41, I showed the pediment above the kitchen door thusly, asking my readers whether its interior should be left plain or ornamented. The unanimous response was that the tympanum (properly identified by Jim of The Road to Parnassus) should be ornamented, and so by popular demand, that's the project for this week.

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My first tympanum drafting was "A," but the more I looked at it, the more those leaf scrolls reminded me of a Victorian furniture design. So I redesigned the tympanum as "B," which has a more graceful and authentically Greek feel to it. (The Pompeians were looking to ancient Greece for inspiration.) Incidentally, all parts of the mural have been worked out in tracings like the examples above.
The architectural decoration above is called an akroter, and is found at the apex of gables on classical buildings, especially Greek temples. Within the typical akroter is an element called the palmette, which I'm incorporating into my own design.

Ercolano-Green by Richard Ginori  |
This handsome plate also features palmettes.

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The finished tympanum — a look one doesn't often see above a kitchen door. Thanks to my readers for encouraging me to add it!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Pompeii No.55: An Homage to Piranesi
I decided that my Pompeian mural would not be complete without an homage to one of the most remarkable men of the eighteenth century, Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Piranesi (1720-1778) was born in the then Republic of Venice, and studied with his uncle, who was an engineer specializing in excavation. Perhaps that whetted Giovanni's appetite for the etchings that would make him famous.

Piranesi: The Complete Etchings  |  Luigi Ficacci
At the age of 20, Piranesi went to Rome, studied etching and engraving, and soon produced a series of Roman views that brought him his initial fame. Above is his depiction of the ruins of the forum of Nerva.

Piranesi: The Complete Etchings  |  Luigi Ficacci
Piranesi measured the ruins of Rome, then made beautiful topographic maps, as well as reconstructions of imperial Rome at its height. Above is Piranesi's reconstruction of the Campus Martius, originally a military field dedicated to the god Mars. Below is a another reconstruction of the Campus Martius, perhaps inspired by Piranesi's work.
Piranesi: The Complete Etchings  |  Luigi Ficacci
If that were that not enough, Piranesi recorded countless Roman fragments in multiple compositions like the one above.

The three previous engravings came from this book published by Taschen, and no library of architectural history (or for that matter decorative design) would be complete without it.

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I should add before I go on that Piranesi is also famous for having drawn a series of imagined prisons. They'd fit in nicely with contemporary fantasy art and today's blockbuster movie sets. Piranesi was a most prolific fellow.
When I saw this lovely urn, designed by Piranesi, I thought it would be perfect to place between the living room's ignudi.

As you can see, my own version has a different bottom than the original reference, but one that is also based on a Piranesi design.

Such a substantial urn deserves a plinth, perhaps even one with a commemorative portrait. But who is this? Certainly not Giovanni Battista Piranesi!

It is yours truly. The self-portrait measures approximately three inches high, or about the same size you're seeing it now, if you have a 21.5-inch screen.

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Now the ignudi can contemplate the urn, rather than ogle each other, as they seemed to be doing before. This is a dark corner that abuts a floor-to-ceiling mirror, so it's a little difficult to light properly.

This angled view is actually a truer representation.

And with that, the living room part of the mural is finished. Now I'm going to double back and tweak a couple areas to which I mentioned I would return.

I hope you'll join me for the next stage.