Wall painting showing a coastal landscape

Roman, early 1st century AD
From Boscoreale, Campania, Italy

The interior walls of wealthy Roman houses were often covered with painted decoration. Fashions in wall-painting changed over time, and at least four major styles of painting have been identified, spanning nearly three centuries. This panel formed part of a wall of a villa at Boscoreale near Pompeii, which was painted in the so-called third style, where central panels showing landscapes, still life such as fruit and fish, or mythological scenes, were framed by elongated frames of columns, candelabra and floral motifs.

This particular scene shows a harbour, in the simple, almost impressionist style often used in Roman landscape painting. A departing boat, its sail billowing in the wind, is watched from a seaside villa by several people, one of whom raises an arm to wave goodbye. In the distance, other boats can be seen, while in the foreground a fisherman fishes from a bridge.

Boscoreale was only one of many sites on the Bay of Naples that were overwhelmed by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. As well as the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, smaller settlements such as Oplontis, Stabiae and the many villas with which the slopes of Vesuvius were thickly dotted, were buried in the space of two days.

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More information


P.C. Roberts, Romans, a pocket treasury (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

R.P. Hinks, Catalogue of the Greek, Etrusc (London, British Museum, 1933)

S. Walker, Roman art (London, 1991)


Height: 32.000 cm
Length: 61.000 cm

Museum number

GR 1899.2-15.2 (Paintings 19)



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