The so-called Villa Imperiale, which was rediscovered after the bombing during the Second World War in 1943 and excavated by Maiuri in 1947, is one of the most significant edifices in Pompeii. Its name is attributable to its elegant character.
The edifice at its panoramic site close to the
Porta Marina is impressive due to its generous dimensions and its exposed
situation. The decoration in several salons reflects the importance
of the building. This decoration can be attributed to two phases, namely
an Augustian around 20 BC in the Third Style and a Neronic / Flavinian
phase of the Fourth Style between 60 and 70 AD. The paintings of the
first phase document a change in taste. If earlier mural paintings served
in the Roman Republic to give the illusion of a view extending outwards
into courtyards and colonnades, the intention was then reversed. One
now gave the impression of an interior made of valuable metals and stone
materials with delicate pillars and small miniature architectures standing
on cornices as well as pictures in panels. Instead of elegant and pompous
background painting there was the artistic refinement of a sumptuous
and costly interior decoration. The refined decorative system is drawn
from the total range of motives of the Roman Empire and therefore also
includes motives alluding to Egypt. In the centre of the wall there
is no longer the view on a sacral architecture as at the time of the
Republic, but on a mythological scene with large figures or an extensive
idyllic panoramic landscape.
The unique significance of the Villa Imperiale is reflected
not only in its panoramic location, but above all in its proximity to
the sacral centre of Roman Pompeii, the Temple of Venus, and the Veneria
Pompeianorum of the patron of the city, Colonia Cornelia. The colonists
(Pompeii had become a Roman colony after the Sullanic siege and had
to accept approximately 2,000 veterans) had contructed the most luxuriously
equipped temple on a 30 x 15 metre large terrace in a location dominating
the landscape placed above the river valley with a free and unlimited
view on the sea. "In this way there was an optical connection between
the Villa and the holy places towering above and one is reminded of
the connection created with a religious and ideological intention between
the House of Augustus on the Palatine Hill and the Apollo Temple located
above it in Rome" (Umberto Pappalardo).
The Villa Imperiale is actually a non-approved
building. It was built
The building, which we have inherited, can be
summarized as follows:
The layout of the rooms of the Villa with pillared
halls and ambulatories as well as their inner decorations and the gardens
were an expression of the social and intellectual status of the house
owner in the tradition of the Hellenistic courts of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Of the 43 pillars of the formerly white stucco portical, only a few
vestiges have survived. The long hall, which is open on one side through
the placement of the pillars, offered not only protection against the
sun but above all also a bright festive reception for the visitor.
The decoration of the rear wall in the Third Style, insofar as it still survives, consists of a pedestal and panels in black as well as painted wall murals, which play a major role with regard to the various colours applied in Pompeian painting. The conclusion is formed by a frieze with delicate architecture and elegant gable decorative elements on a white background. The adjoining gardens, the view on the blue sea and the elegant portical together assured an overall feudal effect.