Pompeii by August Mau: a matter of style

German archaeologist August Mau (1840-1909) lived in Italy for a long time, and worked as a librarian in Rome’s Istituto Archeologico Germanico.

He is mostly known for his 1882 “Geschichte der dekorativen Wandmalerei in Pompeji” (“History of decorative mural painting in Pompeii”), in which he analyzed the types of decorative styles found in the Roman city that was famously buried by lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, and brought back to light only in the mid-18th century.

Mau defined four ornamental models, ranging from the 2nd-1st century BC to the 1st century AD, and from imitation marble inspired by Hellenistic homes to so-called “perspective illusion” – the most common type in Pompeii, with mythological scenes, vegetable elements and faux architectures.

Here is a selection of illustrations from his book.

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