Villa Poppaea

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The Villa Poppaea, also known as Villa Oplontis or Oplontis Villa A, is an ancient luxurious Roman seaside villa (villa maritima) situated in Torre Annunziata, between Naples and Sorrento in Southern Italy.

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Overview

It is situated some three hundred meters west of the Villa of Lucius Crassius Tertius. Buried and preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, the Villa Poppaea lies about 10 meters (33 feet) below the modern ground level, similar to the nearby cities of Herculaneum, Stabiae and Pompeii. The high quality of its decorations and construction suggests it was owned by Emperor Nero. A pottery shard found at the site, bearing the name of a freedman of Poppaea Sabina, Nero's second wife, indicates that the villa may have been her residence when she was away from Rome, which gives the villa its popular name.

The villa was lavishly adorned with fine works of art. Its marble columns and capitals distinguish it as particularly luxurious compared to others in the region, which typically featured stuccoed brick columns. Many artifacts from Oplontis are preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. However, parts of the villa that lie beneath modern structures remain unexcavated.

Architecture

circa 50 BCE

Enclosed Small Viridarium

circa 50 BCE

Kitchen
(inspect)

circa 50 BCE

Caldarium
The frescoes in the caldarium that depict Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides (inspect) are rendered in the "Third Style" (also known as the Ornate Style), a period dating from approximately 25 BCE to 40 CE as identified by August Mau. In this style, the emphasis on realistic perspective is set aside in favor of a flatter appearance and elongated architectural forms. These forms often create the illusion of a shrine surrounding a central scene, which frequently features mythological themes. The artistic approach focuses more on decorative elegance and intricate designs rather than on achieving a realistic depiction of space and depth.

Decorations

circa 50 BCE

Frescoes
Much like the numerous frescoes preserved by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the wall decorations of the Villa Poppaea are notable for their vivid form and rich color. These frescoes predominantly exemplify the "Second Style" (also known as the Architectural Style) of ancient Roman painting, a period dating approximately from 90 to 25 BCE. This classification was established by August Mau in 1899 CE. The frescoes are distinguished by their intricate details, which include illusionistic architectural elements such as trompe-l'œil windows, doors, and painted columns, creating a captivating and deceptive sense of depth and space on flat surfaces.

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See Also

References

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