Ancient paintings in Herculaneum, Schiller and European Neoclassicism
Some experts believe that the eight volumes of “Pitture antiche di Ercolano e dintorni incise con qualche spiegazione” (literally, “Ancient paintings in Herculaneum and surrounding area, etched with some explanation”), published in Naples by Regia Stamperia between 1757 and 1792, were one of the sources poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller used to compose his famous “Pompeii and Herculaneum”.
This crucial text for European Neoclassicism was published in 1797, at the peak of general enthusiasm for the 18th-century archaeological expeditions in parts of Campania that had been buried for centuries under ashes and lapilli from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Rome, Greece! Oh, come! Behold, behold! for this! / Our living world, the old Pompeii sees; / And built anew the town of Dorian Hercules! / House upon house, its silent halls once more / Opes the broad portico! Oh, haste and fill / Again those halls with life!
Here are some of the beautiful tables in that precious work, created by talented artists like Francesco La Vega, Nicola Billy, Pierre Gaultier, Filippo and Giovanni Morghen.