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Home > Auctions > 6th September 2022 > Large Roman Fresco Panel with Birds

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LOT 0113

GBP (£) 12,000 - 17,000
EUR (€) 14,350 - 20,330
USD ($) 14,620 - 20,710

Opening Bid
£10,800 (EUR 12,912; USD 13,155) (‡+bp*)

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Bid History: 0

A sub-rectangular polychrome fresco panel section decorated with two birds perched amidst plants, facing each other across a flowering plant, the scene framed by concentric ochre and cream line borders, the panel with a gently chamfered upper edge bearing a stylised architectural frieze composed of segmented parallel tracks, each with a central pellet, possibly in imitation of egg-and-dart decoration. 29 1/2 x 17 in. (33 1/4 x 21 1/4 in.) (12.85 kg, 75 x 43 cm (mounting: 84.5 x 54 cm)).

Private collection, acquired in the 1970-1980s; thence by descent.
Private collection, since 1998.
Accompanied by an academic report by Dr. Raffaele D'Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11311-189859.

Cf. Gullini, G., La pittura romana, Torino, 1969, pp.72ff.; Gullini, G., Problemi di pittura romana, Torino, 1972, pp.60ff.; Andreae, B., Cangik, H., De Martino, F., Grilli, A., Gullini, G., Princeps Urbium, cultura e vita sociale nell’Italia Romana, Milano, 1991, fig.124; Roberts, P., Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, The British Museum, London, 2013, p.59; pp.146-147; pp.174-177, for comparable frescoes.

This style of fresco developed between 80 and 20 B.C., and used views created with landscapes framed by arcades or windows; this technique depicted glimpses of gardens with plants and animals and showed great attention to detail. The main parallel is the painting from the Villa of Livia, the earliest known example of a painting genre that appeared in Rome in the last decades of the 1st century B.C. Here, the artist has shown great skill in creating the illusion of perspective depth. The fact that this decorative theme can also be found in the Casa del Frutteto in Pompeii shows us that it was not an isolated invention of a certain painter, but a repertoire available to decorators at the end of the 1st century B.C. Our fragment is probably from a wall fresco, possibly positioned in a garden or courtyard, although may also have decorated an internal room.