Creating a Pompeian Room: Chapters 41-58

Chapter 41: The Kitchen Masonry

Here's the kitchen masonry painted, and now the Pompeii Room is starting to look finished on all three sides (four, if you count the transom). As you can see, the mural turns a corner into the living room, to meet a bookcase.

Because the masonry is rather stylized, I've kept the pediment equally simple, but I haven't decided whether it should be more ornate. On one hand, more detail might be fun, and on the other hand, no amount of detail will make the pediment truly trompe l'oeil because the 3-dimensional door frame is always seen at close range. What do you think — more detail, or leave as is?

Here's the kitchen surround, looking into the living room. As you can see, the kitchen masonry dovetails into the transom, which in turn meets the masonry of the opposite wall.

I've left room for a plaque to go in this space, and it might just be my favorite detail yet. Can you guess what will go here? All will be revealed in the next posting, and I hope you'll join me then!

Chapter 42: A Return for Marcus Aurelius

My original idea for filling this wall was to create a trompe l'oeil arrangement that resembled a wall of the London residence of Sir John Soane.
Not only was Soane England's premier Neoclassical architect, but he appears to have been the first person to collect architectural salvage on a large scale. Later in life, he trained young architects from his house, and his collection became an important source of learning for them. Sir John Soane had a very modern design sense, and I'm a huge fan of his work. You can read more about him in the homage I posted here.

At some point, though, I realized that to continue my masonry lines and to also paint architectural remnants would be much too busy, and that I would be better off to pick one great sculpture and give it preeminence.

I settled on this huge sculpture of barbarians kneeling before Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who is about to pardon them. The sculpture, which is nearly life-sized, is incorporated into the main staircase of the Palazzo del Conservatori, one of the Capitoline Museums. It's interesting that the emperor's gesture mirrors the statue of him that is in front of the same museum, below.

Looking at the composition, I was bothered by one head that seemed slightly out of scale, and which, in my opinion, detracted from the head of the emperor's immediate companion, Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus. And so I took the liberty of removing it — adiós!

I begin by outlining the figures. All the straight lines are still in pencil because I'll go back and define them with a straightedge.

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Next I work in the middle of the image because I want to be satisfied with all the faces early in the process. I'm using Sherwin Williams paints the same way I'd use artists' acrylics, developing depth through washes of increasingly darker tones. I generally paint a range of middle tones, then paint darker tones, then paint highlights. Most of the real work is done in the middle tones.

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Here's the final image, what I call the Marcus Aurelius Plaque. You might recall that there is a roundel portrait of the emperor on the other side of the kitchen door, so I now also have a Marcus Aurelius Wall.

Looking towards the living room — I painted the plaque to match the coloration of the transom sculptures.

 Here's a view looking back towards the kitchen.

In the next posting, I'll address something that's been bothering me for months,
and I know it will improve the whole room. I hope you'll join me then!

Chapter 43: The Right Pompeian Red
You may remember that when I started painting the Pompeii Room, I chose an earthy red that Sherwin Williams calls Ablaze. The Ablaze paint chip looks like the square below.

Certain paint colors — like red and yellow — can be tricky. When I study paint chips, I look at them in different lights, including taking the chip outdoors to see it in natural light. Nonetheless, the translation from chip to wall can be surprising. In my case, the almost brick red of the chip turned into a bright red on the wall.

While Ablaze was a little too bright for my specific purpose, it probably would have been the hue that the Pompeians themselves preferred.  |  |  |

The Pompeians derived their reds from the earth, using — from left to right — red ochre, iron ore, hematite and madder root. The image on the far left (of red ochre) is from the Wilgie Mia Mine in Australia.

Of course, when working with stuff that was quite brown in its raw state, a brighter color would be the most preferred. The best red of Pompeii was a vermilion made from the cinnabar mineral. We've come to associate the word cinnabar with fine Asian objets d'art like the box below, in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

photo by R. Weller/Cochise College  |
The Pompeian paint made from cinnabar was 16 times more expensive than the paint made from red ochre, and the raw materials to make the paint would have been supplied by the wealthy client. 

Despite the prestige of a bright red made from cinnabar, I opted to use a darker red, more like red ochre. My thought was that the darker red would better complement the auburn that is the base color for the upper panels. I went with a color Sherwin Williams calls Cochineal, and above you can see the difference between the before and after.

I bought two quarts of Cochineal and began painting over the original red. To my great dismay, the darker red would not cover the brighter red! I went to Sherwin Williams (I am not remunerated for mentioning the brand), and the employees there informed me that I would need to cover the original red with a gray primer, and then paint at least three coats of the Cochineal red.

I have to admit that for a moment I reverted to an earlier mode of expression.

Here's the wainscoting brought back to a gray primer. The paint store said I would need a least three coats of the new red, but in fact I painted four coats of Cochineal.

Here you can see the progression from Ablaze to gray to Cochineal. The Cochineal is essentially the color of the window frame's original shadow.

And here's the revised, deeper red. I still have to paint the switch plate, but I'm leaving that for a little later. In my next posting, we'll do something fun with that bar of gray, so I hope you'll check back then!

Chapter 44: The Moulding and Chair Rail

I often paint mouldings and frames into the art I do on canvas, like the detail above. As I was working on this canvas, I thought it would be fun to incorporate such a moulding as an element of the Pompeii Room. Maybe a little simpler, though.

Mark D. Ruffner
The moulding I settled on was borrowed from this exceptional stone entrance that I photographed in New York City.

As you can see from this early diagram (used in Chapter 13), it was almost from the beginning my intention to have a chair rail and moulding separating the green bar from the red wainscoting. So let's get started.

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Here's how the chair rail and moulding look today. The green takes on a very different quality now that it's framed by the yellow and not immediately juxtaposed to that deep red. Below are other images of the room, and its new moulding.

Chapter 45: Refinished Regency Chairs

Last August I posted about four Regency chairs that were a gift from my friend Sandy. I talked about them and their interesting history in Chapter 24, here.

The chairs were painted an awful mustard yellow, and had very dated upholstery. When I took them to a local refinisher, I discovered that they were made of mahogany, but that they also had endured several repairs. The refinisher insisted that he could redo them so that I'd never notice the repairs, but he doesn't know me too well! I opted to paint them instead.
I toyed with the idea of painting my chairs black and gold and upholstering them in a red fabric (which might have approximated the handsome Regency chairs above) but in the end, I decided to use colors from the mural. It's a small room, after all, and I wanted the chairs to complement rather than overshadow the art.

I had the chairs painted a color to match Sherwin Williams' "Arresting Auburn," and had them upholstered in a moire silk to match Sherwin Williams' "Alaea." Those are the two colors that one sees as the mural's columned backgrounds.

One of the refinished chairs

Here's one of the chairs in place. The chair and mural colors are more in sync than this photograph shows. Note that the back of the chair is level with the painted chair rail.

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Here's the first full view of the Pompeii Room as it appears today. Because the room is quite small, the chairs will eventually be grouped around a small table that will fit either under the window or against the wall opposite the right-hand doorway.

There are still details to address — the table I mentioned, a lamp for the table, a window treatment to replace the venetian blinds that I've been graying out, the tympanum that my faithful commentors urged me to detail, and the painting of a marble plaque to go over the window.

Those will all happen in due time.

But don't go away!! In my next posting, the mural of the Pompeii Room will migrate to the next room. I hope you'll be there for the next chapter!

Chapter 46: The Mural Migrates

In my last posting I revealed a view of the Pompeii Room as it looked almost completed, below.

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But this is not what one saw when one entered my house, because the door is to the right of this perspective. In fact, the view was more like the illustration below.

It therefore occurred to me — as I was repainting the red wainscoting — that the Pompeii Room would need to extend into the living room, in order to make a fuller statement . . .

. . . and look like this. And so this posting is all about continuing the background template into the living room.

For a long time, the living room wall facing the front door featured a dramatic Victorian image of a red-haired lady (a close-up heads this posting). It was a lithograph printed on cloth, rather remarkable technology for the 1800s.

Early in the picture's residency, the 5-year-old daughter of friends entered the house and commented that the lady looked sad. "Yes," I said. "you're right. She's sad because she doesn't have a name." Without hesitating for a moment, the little girl said, "Her name is Zenita!" And thereafter she remained Zenita.

When I painted the new wainscoting, and the chair rail and moulding, I extended the project to Zenita's wall.

Then I duplicated the Pompeian background to match the original room. I also painted the interior of the bookcases a dusty mauve, a color that picks up some details from the mural and gives the living room a little extra tie-in. (The bookcase interior is brighter in this image because it's being flooded with light for the photograph; its actual impact is more subtle.)

The columns don't extend all the way down to the wainscoting because they're going to be partially obscured by future design elements.

In my next posting, I'll share the inspiration for the living room, an homage to a Late Renaissance master. I hope you'll join me then!

Chapter 47: Tragic Annebale Carracci 

Annibale Carracci, from a self-portrait
As I mentioned at the beginning of this series, my version of Pompeii includes details that the Pompeians themselves would have recognized, but it also incorporates later interpretations of Pompeii. I think that my version of Pompeii has an eighteenth-century feel, with a nod to the Renaissance artists who were celebrating antiquity long before Pompeii was uncovered in 1748.

The living room portion of my Pompeii will have what I call the template of the original Pompeii Room (the columns and background panels that are the bones of the mural), but otherwise will have the look of the Renaissance. For the small living room wall, I'm incorporating the work of the master Annibale Carracci, shown above.  |
On the left, above, is a pastel portrait of Carracci, and on the right is Carracci's Portrait of a Lute Player, c. 1593-94, doubtlessly a self-portrait.

Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) was born in Bologna to a working class family and at a young age he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. He was forever drawing, and before long he was studying art with Barolomeo Passerotti, a successful Bolognese artist of the day.

Annibale was a great admirer of Michelangelo and Raphael, but also studied the works of northern Italian and Venetian masters. His subject matter ran the gamut ...
... from mythology and classical antiquity ...
... to religious works ...

... to landscapes ...
... to genre art.

Carracci developed a style of naturalism, or realism, that he blended very successfully with classical art, and it was a revolutionary and popular direction for his time. In the 1580s he and other family members founded the Carracci Academy, where his "idealized realism" was taught.
In 1595, the very powerful Cardinal Odoardo Farnese called Carracci to Rome, to decorate the Palazzo Farnese, shown above.

click to enlarge   |
First Carracci painted the Cardinal's private study, then several years later, the ceiling of the famous Farnese Gallery, shown above. It was the Cardinal's idea to portray the gods of Olympus and all their loves.

Carracci, much influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, painted the ceiling to look like a combination of framed paintings and supporting sculptures, though it is all fresco work.
Carracci, for all his brilliance, was a timid soul. He dressed poorly, was shy and prone to stuttering. If you look up Cardinal Farnese on a site like Wikipedia, he'll be credited for having been a patron of the arts. That is true, but he was also a cruel taskmaster who enjoyed mocking Annibale's handicaps at every turn.
When the glorious ceiling was finished, the cardinal paid Carracci only 500 scudi for his years of work which, by my research into 1600's currency, was probably a lot less than minimum wage — a huge, vile insult.

Another personality — a Michelangelo, say — would have sought recourse, and probably exacted revenge, too. But Carracci was humble, and Farnese, descended from a pope and royal houses, was very, very powerful.

Carracci reacted by falling into a deep depression from which he never recovered. He suffered a stroke, quit painting altogether, and soon died.

The Farnese Gallery itself was a huge triumph and a standard for all other artists for many years thereafter.

Carracci by Carlo Maratti | pinterest, beardbriarandrose
Annibale Carracci's contemporaries realized that he had forged a new direction in Italian art, and buried him in the Pantheon next to his hero Raphael. Today, Carracci's work is considered a bridge between the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

I'll be borrowing elements from the Farnese Gallery for my living room wall, so I hope you check back for upcoming posts!

Chapter 48: The Ignudi
Ignudi  (plural noun) From the Italian adjective nudo, meaning "naked."
When Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512, he incorporated pairs of male nudes as pure decoration.
Their purpose was to support the shields, ribbons and huge garlands that framed the major, central frescoes.
Not everyone around the pope was thrilled with the figures because they (the male nudes) had no religious context and . . .

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. . . as you can see in my diagram, the 20 figures take up a considerable part of the design.

Michelangelo called his 20 figures "The Ignudi," and though he did not invent the word, he did — through this title — coin an art term. Countless artists like Annibale Carracci (whom I profiled in my last posting) also incorporated ignudi into their design schemes.
This is an ignudi by Carracci, one of many that he included in the ceiling of the Farnese Gallery.
These ignudi, by an earlier artist, are in another part of the Palazzo Farnese, in a room that served as the family boardroom. Here the ignudi are similar to the figures one sometimes sees on either side of a crest, below.

Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning  |  Ottfried Neubecker
This is the 1701 coat of arms of the King of Prussia. When seen in heraldry, figures such as these wildmen are called "supporters."

But I digress. The first stage of my Carracci wall will be an ignudi, very loosely based on one of Carracci's own. I'll unveil that in the next posting.

Chapter 49: "Assembling" the Left Ignudi

Charles Dempsey, George Braziller
As I mentioned in the last posting, the two ignudi of my Carracci wall will both be loosely based on figures by Carracci. Just how loosely, you'll see momentarily!

Charles Dempsey, George Braziller

I begin by finding a figure that has possibilities, and then flipping it 180°. My choice is informed in part by the realization that there is a wall directly behind where my left ignudi will go, and therefore the figure needs to either sit erectly, or lean forward, as this one does. But now I have a couple of problems:

  • Because this figure is at the left edge of the living room mural, it will be staring up at nothing, so I'll need to reposition the head.
  • Because the original Carracci fresco is so elevated, the ignudi feet appear to be cut off, so I'll need to add feet, or better yet, reposition new legs.
  • For all the beauty of Carracci's painting, the limbs of this figure are quite exaggerated. Can a body really be this muscular and still have such a big stomach? I'll need to put this fellow on a strict diet. No more pasta!

Here's a real Frankenstein for you! For reference, I've pasted a new Carracci head on the painted figure, then added a photograph of legs and the left arm. A special thanks to my friend Dave for being a good sport and modeling for the sake of art.

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Here's my version of the ignudi. The colors are true for the most part, though the purple of the base and the green below it are neither as dark nor as saturated.

Here you can see that the wall is rather textured in areas, and so I have simplified my job by smoothing out the surface in critical, more detailed areas.

Another ignudi is yet to come, and he'll be facing the one I've just revealed. I hope you'll join me for that reveal, too!

Chapter 50: The Right Ignudi

Gli Amori Degli Dei
In Chapter 49, I created an ignudi loosely based on ones by Annibale Carracci. Now it's time to create a companion piece to sit on the right side of the mural.

Gli Amori Degli Dei
I've chosen to use this fellow as my basis; like the first figure, he's from the ceiling of the famous Farnese Gallery. My friend Sandy said, "You're not going to use that hair, are you!?" Oh, is it that bad? Well, perhaps he does have a bit of a bed-head.

As in my last ignudi, I will be adding new legs for a new posture.

Originally, I had thought of painting the draperies a different color from the last ignudi's, but because the two figures are somewhat unbalanced, I decided to have blue draperies on both sides of the mural.

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Sometimes I have trouble capturing the right colors in a room that does not have a lot of natural light, but the colors in this shot are very true to the  painting.

I've stylized the hair, and Sandy should be happy that it's not quite so windblown. I had fun painting the eye's reflection to match Carracci's image.

Notice that I have a different light source than the Carracci original. Mine conforms to my own mural.

The outlining was not typical of Carracci, but it was typical of Michelangelo. It's logical that I reference Michelangelo for this work, because Carracci himself did.

This image is a bit on the orange side, but I'm including the hand (at approximately 150% its actual size) to show that it's rather loosely painted.

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In this image of the living room wall, you can see how I've endeavoured to balance the figures by balancing the draperies, particularly as they extend out to the center of the wall to exactly the same length. The drapery on the right is also gathered at the end to balance the crossed feet on the left.

There will eventually be a neoclassic design element between the two ignudi, but the next stage of the mural will be to faithfully render a wonderful Carracci detail in the upper panel. That's coming up in the next posting.

Chapter 51: Diana's Secret Love

Mark D. Ruffner © 2015
As I mentioned in Chapter 47, Cardinal Farnese's gallery ceiling depicts the loves of the gods of Olympus. Above, I've circled the ceiling segment that I've chosen to add to my own mural. It's one of Annibale Carracci's best works, and a testament thereof is that most books on Carracci and the Farnese Gallery highlight this portion of the ceiling.

Annibale Carracci: The Farnese Gallery, Rome  |  Dempsey, Braziller
Here I've circled details that overlap from other parts of the mural, and these are areas I'll therefore be omitting from my own copy.

The painting depicts Diana (also known as Artemis in Greek mythology) who was the Roman goddess of the moon and of the hunt. Much to the disappointment of the other gods, she vowed never to marry. But on one of her trips across the sky, she spotted a sleeping shepherd named Endymion and fell in love. As you can see, she is was so very careful in her attention — much to the amusement of the cherubs — that not even Endymion's dog stirred. Diana visited Endymion thereafter many times, always when he was asleep, and remembering her vow, she asked Jupiter (or Zeus) to make Endymion eternally young and eternally asleep. There are a number of alternate versions of this story.

I leave it to you to determine possible messages on love and life, which might include the moral to never say never. In any case I like Carracci's depiction and have copied it, below.

Mark D. Ruffner © 2015
Below is a comparison of Carracci's original and my own copy.
click to enlarge
Probably the biggest difference between the two is that I changed the clouds, making them level and almost an Art Deco stylization. It helps me to see the comparison the same way you are now doing because I notice that I need to go back and add more shadow to Diana's arm, and that the dog needs a little more contrasting white in his face and tail.

Gli Amori Degli Dei
Of course Annibale was working on a much greater scale, maybe 20 times the size of my little copy.

I want to call your attention now to the interesting way he shadowed his figures. Where other artists would sometimes crosshatch, Carracci shadowed with a method that looked like fine banknote engraving. His first apprenticeship was with a goldsmith, so perhaps he developed this technique then. One would not see this looking up from floor level, and I find it quite astonishing. I would have loved to have looked over Carracci's shoulder as he worked.

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Here's the Carracci wall as it looks today. If the Diana painting looks a little unreal in this photograph, it's because I isolated it in PhotoShop and lightened its exposure so that you wouldn't be seeing any of it in shadow.

But we can't just leave it there, floating in an auburn void! In my next posting, I'll be putting a frame around the painting, and the frame will come from a most appropriate source. I hope you'll join me then!

Chapter 52: Framing Diana 

After I finished Diana's portrait, I knew that it should be complemented with an appropriate antique frame, and I did quite a bit of research on that subject. In my meanderings, I came upon the work of Giulio Clovio, an artist and advisor to Cardinal Farnese for some 40 years.

The Renaissance  |  Charles McCorquodale
Clovio spent nine years producing the Farnese Hours, a book containing what is considered by many to be the Italian Renaissance's finest miniatures.

click to enlarge  |  McCorquodale
It was Clovio's magnum opus.
Another section of the Farnese Hours  |
The Renaissance  |  Charles McCorquodale
Giulio Clovis became a close friend of El Greco, who painted this portrait of Clovio with his famous book.

click to enlarge
I was tickled that a painting from the Palazzo Farnese should be married to a frame that is also a part of the Farnese history, a nice bit of serendipity. As you can see, I modified my frame to look a tad more Neoclassic and a little less Baroque.

At the bottom of the frame, I've added a plaque with Annibale Carracci's initials. Wherever he is, I hope he's happy.

In my next posting, we'll figure out a way to hang the painting.
I hope you'll join me then.

Chapter 53: It's Only Paint!

After framing the Diana painting with Clovio's design from the Farnese Hours, it came time to hang the painting. For a long time, I had in mind to hang it from a blue ribbon, tied with a bow.

Perhaps I was subconsciously thinking of the later French decorative groupings of implements that are properly referred to as "symbols." I also thought the blue bow would be a nice balance to the ignudi's draping in the lower part of the mural.

I was initially very pleased with the final result. But upon looking at it the next morning, I liked it much less. It wasn't just that the bow was a little too sweet, or that I was getting further and further away from Neoclassism. I realized that the blue was more intense than any color in the Diana painting, especially as it was surrounded by that dark auburn. Because of that, it was pulling the eye away from the painting. Can you see that the bow is actually quite a distraction?

So this is when you say to yourself, "It's only paint! Let's go to Plan B."

My second hanger is a simple unbowed ribbon, austere by comparison.

Now, once again, the painting predominates.

Chapter 54: Adding a Brown Anole

I thought that for the next stage of the mural, I would add a touch of Florida, which is where I'm located. And what better than the brown anole, which is more familiarly called the gecko.
Actually, the native lizard is the green anole. The brown anole is Cuban and started proliferating in Florida in the 1970s. A more aggressive lizard, the brown anole chased the green anoles off the ground and into the bushes and trees. On any given day, I see a half dozen brown anoles on my porch, but never green ones.
This remarkable photograph of a green anole eating its nemesis comes by way of Timothy Mitchell's blog, which can be found here. The scene is usually reversed.

And so, because I associate the Cuban anole rather than the green anole with my environment, I have placed him at the top of my Carracci wall. A lamp is below this image, so in real life the anole would be in the very same spot, waiting for a morsel to happen by.

In my next posting I'll add one more element to the living room wall, then I'll pull back to reveal that part of the mural, completed. I hope you'll join me then!

Chapter 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.

click to enlarge
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.

click to enlarge
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 . . .

Chapter 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!

Pompeii Chapter 57: Window Treatments

If you've been following the many installments of the Pompeii Room's evolution, you might remember that I painted the window frame at the very beginning.

I chose to begin there because it was the first thing that people entering the room would see. But I painted it loosely because I wanted to give a little momentum to the project. At the time, I said I'd return at a later date and add more detail. Well, that time is now.

I began by repainting the entire frame to better match the rest of the room's masonry. Now all the masonry is in the same color family, primarily a Sherwin Williams paint called Sand Dollar.

Here you can see the before and after. The original window frame was a light mustard yellow that I equated with sandstone, and as you can see, I've better delineated the torus that tops the window frame.

click to enlarge
My friend Sandy — who gives excellent critiques — thinks that the cobalt blue plaque makes the frame a little too top heavy, even if it will be getting an inscription. She's made a suggestion that I like, and so that blue will be replaced by my next posting.

You've undoubtedly noticed that in all my images of the Pompeii Room's window, I've masked the actual window with gray. That's because I've been bothered all along by a venetian blind, which quickly destroys the illusion I've been working hard to create.

Greek Revival America  |  Roger G. Kennedy  |  detail of a photograph by Robert Lautman
What I really wanted was a Roman grill like the image above. I drew plans of such a window and even consulted with a fine carpenter who's done other work on the house.
I also looked into the possibility of using industrial grilles.
And then last week, while my house was being tented, I discovered this antique screen, originally hinged as a room divider. If you look closely, you might be able to see that by removing an X'd unit from the bottom of each panel, the fit will be almost perfect. I'm thrilled.

Pompeii Chapter 58: Pompeii's Finale 

No, I don't mean smoke and ashes. When I say, "Pompeii's Finale," I simply mean that my home mural project has finally come to an end.

Since my last posting. the mural's window plaque has received a gold surface and a Latin inscription. The font is appropriately named Trajan, and the saying translates as, "Know Thyself," wise and profound advice from the ages.

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 Here are views of the room as it appears today... 

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I promised my blogging friend Yvette that I would include a view from the kitchen. It's painted an orange, but I think you could also call it a Pompeian yellow.

Of course there is still work to be done — the Roman grille for the window, a solution to shield the kitchen from view while still allowing easy access, perhaps revised lighting, and then finally, the furnishings. That should be a lot of fun. In the meantime, I'll put away the ladder, the drop cloth and many quarts of paint.

Thanks for viewing!


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