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Greeks amongst his countrymen. More than sixty years afterwards, the Consul Lucius Mummius obtained the name of Achaicus for his destruction of Corinth, whence he conveyed to Rome all the paintings of high celebrity, and other works by the most accomplished artists of Greece. . By this means he greatly contributed to form a pure taste, which progressively extended, until a collection of pictures became a necessary appendage to every Roman mansion of the first class.
The Pinacotheca was directed to be placed towards a northern aspect by the rules of the architect Vitruvius '; this exposure, which at all times afforded a uniform light to the pictures, excluded the vivid rays of the sun.
Infinite care was bestowed on the preservation of the paintings, exclusive of the peculiar position of the gallery, which protected the colours from the injurious effects of damp and sun. Each picture was covered with transparent varnish to preserve it from dust, and some were also inclosed in frames with shutters'.
i Lib. vi. cap. 7.
Some pictures were executed in the encaustic manner, said to have been invented by Pausias, a painter of Sicyon, and others in fresco, which last was usually adopted in paintings on walls. There were at least three several kinds of encaustic painting. The first,
The first, by means of colors incrusted in lines, traced with the Cestrum on ivory this instrument was a kind of style, sharp at one end, and flattened at the other. Amongst the pictures discovered at Herculaneum is an interesting representation of a lady painting with a Cestrum': she is habited in an ample white tunic without sleeves ; her mantle thrown over the lower part of her body, falls in graceful folds over her seat, and spreads itself on the pavement. The picture is placed on an easel, near to which stands a small marble table containing hollows for the necessary variety of tints; at a distance in the same picture appears an old woman grinding colours; while another is seemingly melting wax mixed with oil on the fire, that being the vehicle used for the colours'. The second mode of encaustic painting was with coloured wax, used in the same way as is still practised in taking portraits
i See Pittura di Pompeii, a plate representing the decorations of an Atrium.
2 Fresco painting is described as performed on fresh plaster, or on wall covered with mortar not quite dry, and with water-colors. The plaster could only be laid on as the painting proceeded, and no more was done at once than the painter could dispatch in a day. The colors being prepared with water, and applied over plaster when quite fresh, became incorporated with the plaster and retained their beauty.
3 Pittura d'Ercolano, vol. vii. plate 1.
In the third method, melted wax was used with a brush :—this last was the most durable, and on that account was applied to ships. All the ancient pictures hitherto discovered are in fresco, a style which admitted the indiscriminate use of all kinds of colour. - Many of these frescos have been separated
1 Ruines de Pompeii, vol. ii. whence this account of the mechanism of ancient art is derived.
Pliny's Natural History, book xxxv. chap. 2.
with equal daring and address from the walls upon which they were originally traced. Pliny gives an account of an operation of this kind attempted by Caligula, in such a way as to make it appear that it was frequently practised. In Pompeii several paintings were found that had been already detached from the walls before the fatal eruption of Vesuvius, and carefully placed on the ground with the view of removal elsewhere. The following account of existing specimens is by an artist of eminence.
The collections of ancient paintings at Portici are curious and instructing; some of them containing exquisite pieces of art.
One room is filled with representations of fruit and flowers, well painted and freely handled : some grapes in particular are remarkable for execution, quite transparent, with the touches of light on them judiciously placed to give effect and clearness. A second room contains various ornaments painted in a masterly manner, and with considerable ingenuity in the design. A third is covered with various animals and birds.
Another apartment is filled with landscapes: one is a view of ancient Puteoli. Amongst the innumerable pictures in several rooms, the following appeared to be the best: Sophonisba drinking the juice of hemlock,-admirable in expression ; An infant Hercules strangling serpents; Jupiter and Leda; The Graces ; A Venus; The Education of Bacchus; and a Medusa’s Head. These are all slight, but it is that slightness which conveys character and refinement of taste. They are in fresco on stucco grounds, and with a polish on the surface. It does not seem that any glazing colours have been used, the effect being produced entirely by body colour. The Romans, however, as Pliny informs us, had a dark yet transparent mixture, which they laid over their highly finished works to give the delusion required. From the freshness and clearness of the colouring, they seem to possess the advantage of paintings in oil, so far at least as durability is advantageous'. The name of Apelles in Pliny
1 Williams's Italy, vol. ii. p. 119.