Private Luxury

As if suspended in time and history, depicts the exhibition of life, destruction and rebirth of Pompeii and Herculaneum through the representation of two emblematic dwellings: the House of the Faun and the Villa of the Papyri.
The immersive approach will involve all the five senses through the installation “The Second After”, the movie “Timeless” and the diffusion of the essence “Rosso Pompei” by Tiziana Terenzi.

This “metaphysical” snapshot depicts the dramatic moment of the violent eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, which devastated the lives of the men and women of Pompeii and Herculaneum in just a few hours.

The sumptuous architecture, disrupted by the violent displacement of air, floats frozen in mid-air, due to the pyroclastic flows that invested the entire city with its monuments, houses, villas and streets.

Set among the suspended architectures there are two reproductions: the famous Dancing Faun from the House of the Faun and the Sleeping Satyr from the Villa of the Papyri, the originals of which are kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN).
The technique used is that of “wide frames”, which renders the materials ethereal, impalpable, suspended in the air as if in time, “frozen” in the moment following the explosion of the volcano.

The rich daily life of Pompeii and Herculaneum is the protagonist in images, sounds and scents, representing the cultural contamination between East and West, centred on the Mediterranean.
Although overwhelmed by the fury of the elements, contemporary excavations and technology have made it possible to revive its memory and richness.

The video projection is divided into three blocks: the details of the works, the gold and the luxurious architecture of Pompeii and Herculaneum, tell of the taste of the ‘white sea’ and the routes indicated by the constellations.
The details of the eyes, the sculptural bodies ravaged by the volcano’s eruption represent the apex.
The stars of the end are the re-emergence of the works, and of the architecture, thanks to excavations and technologies that make it possible to project into the future the extraordinary testimony of a past that has never been forgotten.
The sound design by Maestro Furio Valitutti follows the tripartite structure of the video projection and is freely inspired by the suggestions of the works “De Vitiis” and “De Musica” by Filodemo da Gadara, present in the library of the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum.

The sound of the sea carries with itself the suspended notes of an ancient plectrum instrument, while the poetess Sappho – voiced by mezzo soprano Jeehee Han – declaims the verses of a fragment:

time passes quickly but the voice says she is here, alone, after the setting of the moon and the fall of the Pleiades.

Tiziana Terenzi’s Rosso Pompei perfume, part of the Luna collection, will inebriate the visitor with memories of the ancient splendour of the Vesuvian city.
The essence is fruity with graceful hints of yellow grapefruit and Sicilian rose, combined with Sorrento lemon and Amalfi grape, famous for its sweet nectar.

The heart of this creation gently embraces the head, thanks to the seductive strength of Grey Amber combined with the forbidden flower of Mexican Tuberose, with its hypnotic and aphrodisiac power, and the gentleness of Lily of the Valley and Royal Jasmine.
The base is powerful to ensure an intense duration to the entire creative structure, where the woods of Indian Sandalwood reverberate, lashed by the freshness of Cedar of Lebanon, but made mysterious, just like in the Villa at Pompeii, by the vigorous Red Patchouli and the Neapolitan Maple, a typical tree of the Vesuvius area.





Suspended in time, the exhibition represents the moment after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. that swept through Pompeii and Herculaneum. Two dwellings, the House of the Faun and the Villa of the Papyri. The immersive approach integrates the physical representation into a multi-sensory itinerary involving all five senses thanks to the video work Timeless and the diffusion of the Rosso Pompei perfume.

It is a “metaphysical” snapshot that interprets the most dramatic moments caused by the violent explosion of the volcano; the sumptuous architecture, created using the “wide frames” technique, is broken up by the violent displacement of air and floats frozen in mid-air, due to the pyroclastic flows that invested the entire city with its monuments, houses, villas and streets.
The choice of materials was made to accentuate the contrast between the perfect shapes of the dwellings, reduced to the essential minimum and represented by the machined metal, luminescent with the cold light design specially made for it.
It is a return to structure, to pure lines, to poor materials that nevertheless retain their luminescence, a sign of the opulence that characterised life and forms at the height of the two cities’ splendour.
The famous Dancing Faun of the House of the Faun and the Sleeping Satyr of the Villa of the Papyri, the originals of which are kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN).
The perspective makes the work enveloping and dynamic, changing in relation to the changing points of observation.
The statuesque bodies glowing with warm light accentuate at the same time their torsion as if they were dancing and their muscular tension as if they were fleeing (Faun) and folding in on themselves as a sign of resignation to their inexorable destiny (Satyr).
The greatest attention has been paid to the chiaroscuro to highlight the drama of the moment; to the play of luminescence and shadows of both the architecture and the statues; and finally to the contrast between the types of light, warm for the sculptures and cold for the architecture.


The immersive work is completed by the Timeless video projection which is divided into three main moments:

1) the rich everyday life of Pompeii and Herculaneum a moment before the eruption;
2) 79 AD, the event that buried the two Vesuvian towns;
3) the rebirth of the extraordinary sites thanks to the first archaeological excavations and contemporary technologies, allowing generations to admire a priceless heritage, a sign of how Culture can survive over time.

First phase: everyday life – wealth, culture, power and cultural contamination with the ‘white sea’ as the protagonist.
The works of the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum and the House of the Faun in Pompeii are recounted in everyday life through the description of sumptuous, luxurious dwellings with their decorative, sculptural and precious jewellery. The gaze of the dancers on the funerary urn of the Villa dei Papiri or the Nilotic threshold of the House of the Faun recount that taste of the “white sea” – of our Mediterranean – a crossroads of economic and commercial traffic that translated into culture, contamination and growth.
Following the constellations that oriented the travel routes between East and West, the work reveals the details of the rich architectural forms that are still a source of inspiration today.
Bright colours, classical forms of beauty are prevalent and take over in the natural alternation of scenes of life, peaceful nature, conquest and power.
The winged sphinx, once a precious support for a precious marble table, and the mosaic with Dionysus as a child on a tiger tell us about the oriental influences and shape the taste of the owner of the house.
The protagonists of the scene are the movement of the sculptural bodies, observed in detail: the gesture of the hands, the drapery of the clothes, the detail of the flowers and individual animals on the Nilotic threshold, the bright colours of the decorations of the Villa of the Papyri and the House of the Faun.
The main colours are blue and gold.

Second phase: the destruction, the eruption of Vesuvius.
Suddenly, the lights of everyday life go out with the burning cloud that invests everything it encounters. The sounds become muffled and suspended as if the result of a gigantic explosion of a natural bomb of unprecedented violence; the refinement of life and of the works produced is fractured, buried, broken.
The variety of colours is lost and suddenly the red of the fire becomes dominant. Gradually, everything turns grey and the fury of nature sweeps away the signs of vitality, beauty and culture that had marked the initial phase of the story.
Life is interrupted by the violence of the elements.The protagonists of the scene are the eyes and the expressions of the gazes of the sculptural bodies, the details of the faces; the eyes of the dancers, the runners and then the other sculptures that do not have painted eyes (Hermes at Rest, Drunken Satyr). The background becomes coloured in fiery red, and then everything is covered in grey ash as if these sculptures were buried, the colours fade to black: it is deep darkness.
The main colours are red, grey and black.

Third phase: the sign of culture surviving the elements.
Excavations, the resurfacing of evidence from the past, technique and technology come to the aid of mankind in order to regain possession of the sometimes intact evidence emerging from the ashes and destruction of the eruption of Vesuvius.”
Colour once again, an impetus towards discovery and the future; the mosaics come together again, man returns as the protagonist because culture and memory are stronger even than the destructive fury of the elements.
Archaeologists’ notes mark the return of beauty. Excavations bring to light the buried evidence of the past: life takes over and the message to the future and hope closes the projection.
The protagonists of the scene are Weber’s handwritten plans of the excavations of the Villa dei Papiri (turned negative), which bring out the first traces of vitality and discovery from the blackness of the darkness.
The focus is on the expressions on the faces of the combatants at the battle of Issus; it begins with a look at the details of the characters that animate Alexander’s mosaic.
It is a return to life, to light and colour, even in its own dramatic battle scene.
The ending scene focuses on the leader as a sign of justice, progress and hope; it is the triumph of Good.
The main colours are white and ochre.


The sound design by Maestro Furio Valitutti follows the tripartite structure of the video projection.
The sound of the sea carries with it the suspended notes of an ancient plectrum instrument while Sappho (voiced by mezzo-soprano Jeehee Han) declaims the verses of a fragment: time passes quickly but the voice says she is here, alone, after the setting of the moon and the fall of the Pleiades.

Blurred as if in a memory, the life of Pompeii and its inhabitants emerges before being destroyed by the fury of Vesuvius.
Then, suddenly and violently, the explosion of the volcano; the distant cries, the lava, the debris and then nothing…
In the third section, time gets stuck in a loop in which sounds and voices become fragments exploded and frozen in time, like particles suspended in the air.

Slowly the horror subsides, everything seems to vanish and we find ourselves submerged in a subjective sound that turns us from spectators into children, brothers, mothers and fathers, buried together with all the life of what was once the great Pompeii.
Sappho’s voice and the musical instrument of the first section, surfacing from the darkness, bring with them some salvation: from afar we hear the sound of modernity advancing above us: diggers, trucks, debris, people digging with tools and bare hands, slowly bringing us back to the light.

We wake up as if from a dream (or perhaps a memory). What remains is the sound of the sea.


Completing the multi-sensory journey offered to visitors is the diffusion of Tiziana Terenzi’s Rosso Pompei perfume, part of the Luna collection of artistic perfumery. The protagonist is Pompeii, a city sealed in a few hours and suspended in time since the night of 79 AD.

At the heart of Terenzi’s creations is an intimate, personal, family experience. Sensations which, through fragrances, make it possible to relive experiences of one’s own personal experience: that of the creators and at the same time that of those who undertake this olfactory journey.

History reverberates at every step, before a breathtaking enchantment that enraptures every visitor.

The fragrance opens with a fruity accord, where the scents of yellow and pink Sicilian grapefruits echo gracefully, combined with Sorrento Lemon and Amalfi Grapes, very famous for their sweet nectar. The heart of this creation embraces the head gently, thanks to the seductive strength of Grey Amber combined with the forbidden flower of Mexican Tuberose, with its hypnotic and aphrodisiac power, embraced by the gentleness of Lily of the Valley and Royal Jasmine.

The base is powerful to ensure an intense duration to the entire creative structure, where the Indian Sandalwood reverberates, violently struck by the freshness of the Cedar of Lebanon, but made mysterious, just like in the Villa at Pompeii, by the vigorous Red Patchouli and the Neapolitan Maple, a typical tree of the Vesuvius area.

HEAD NOTES: Sicilian and pink grapefruit, Sorrento lemon, Amalfi grapes
HEART NOTES: Grey Amber, Tuberose, Magnolia, Lily of the Valley and Royal Jasmine
BASE NOTES: Sandalwood, Red Patchouli, Lebanese Cedar and Neapolitan Maple.


The Villa of the Papyri has represented – and still represents – one of the most cherished mirages for scholars of antiquity, that of a place where the destruction caused either by time or by the tragic fate that befell the Vesuvian cities 2000 years ago has not prevented the discovery, together with an exceptional testimony to the daily life and society of the time, of a repository of texts that allows the recovery of as much as possible of the lost literature, philosophy, science and culture of antiquity.

Located at a depth of about 25 metres to the north-west outside the town of Herculaneum, the villa, an aristocratic residence, spreads out along a 250 m seafront over an area of 20,000 m2 on 4 architectural levels, which adapt to the natural slope of the coastline, suggesting a scenographic distribution of the complex.

The villa should have opened towards the sea with a portico of 12 columns. From here there was access to the atrium.
It consists of a series of rooms and a garden with a large swimming pool with a panoramic view towards the sea.
The dimensions of the complex are impressive: a large peristyle 100 m long with 25 columns on the long sides and a 66 m long swimming pool.

The systematic excavation of the villa, through wells and galleries, began in April 1750 and continued until February 1761, when, due to gas fumes, it was decided to stop work. A new exploration was carried out between 1996 and 1998.

Between 2000 and 2008, the last excavation, restoration and fitting-out works were started, financed by the European Community.
An exceptionally valuable document is the plan drawn up by engineer Carlo Weber, who personally supervised the first excavation works under the direction of Roque Joaquin de Alcubierre.

It shows graphically almost all the excavations carried out and notes all the locations of the statues found during the exploration.
The residential complex conserves a sculptural heritage of extraordinary stylistic value. As many as 93 sculptures were located in the interior and exterior spaces, which were also almost completely discovered during the Bourbon excavations.
These 93 statues, 65 in bronze and 28 in marble, are kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
The room from which the greatest number of sculptures come is the rectangular peristyle, with 47 finds.
It extended for about ninety-five metres in the north-western sector of the villa, between the vast garden that ended with the panoramic Belvedere.

Among the numerous sculptures are the famous five statues of the Danaids, the so-called Dancers and the two Runners.
Dancers and the two runners, which probably represent the taste of the owner of the villa. No less stylistically outstanding are the sculptures belonging to the Dionysian circle, including the bronze statues of the drunken and sleeping satyrs.
The name of the owner is still uncertain but many hypothesis have been exposed . The most validated on the basis of the presence in the Villa of the works of the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus of Gádara, is to identify him with Lucius Calpurnio Piso Caesoninus, father-in-law of Caesar.
Another hypothesis is that the owner was Appius Claudius Pulcher, consul in 38 BC, a friend of Cicero, who had interests in the Herculaneum area.

On the basis of the sculptural decoration it has been argued that the patron and owner of the villa was a member of the educated philhellenic nobilitas of the Caesarian or early Augustan period.


The Library. 


The most surprising discovery, the only organic library from the classical world that has come down to us, and which makes this context unique, is certainly that relating to the 1826 fragments of papyri referring to about a thousand volumina, found during the 18th century excavations.
The papyri were mainly concentrated in the small room marked with the letter ‘V’ in K. Weber’s plan, located southeast of the square peristyle. Papyri, however, although in smaller quantities, were also found in the exedra (the so-called tablinum), as well as in the rooms adjacent to it, allowing us to recognise this room as the site of the villa’s library.
Buried under a blanket of lava material and subjected to a very high temperature, the papyri underwent a process of combustion that allowed them to be preserved, albeit in an extremely fragile condition.
The first papyri were brought to light between October 1752 and August 1754 and were subjected to initial unsuccessful attempts to unwrap them by, among others, the Prince of San Severo and Camillo Paderni, director of the Herculaneum Museum in Portici and the first curator of the papyri in the aftermath of the discovery. Finally, Father Antonio Piaggio, a former restorer of ancient material at the Vatican Library, designed the machine – or traction unit – that bears his name and was used until the early twentieth century.
To unroll the papyri, Piaggio designed and built a machine that relied on the horizontal movement of a screw to impart a vertical movement to the papyrus roll; the papyrus sheet that was gradually detached, reinforced with a thin film made from a pig’s or sheep’s bladder, was held in traction by silk threads tied to hooks placed in the upper structure of the machine itself.
The open scrolls have yielded Greek texts that would otherwise be unknown: first and foremost Epicurus’s pivotal work On Nature, the corpus of works by Philodemus of Gadara, who was probably the organiser of the library itself, by other Epicurean philosophers such as Demetrius Lacon, Polystratus, Carneiscus, Colote and Metrodorus, both from Lampsaco, and by the Stoic Chrysippus. There are few works in Latin, of a more varied nature due to the presence of comedies, historiographic works, political and legal texts.
As is well known, on the basis of these testimonies, the Villa of the Papyri was reconstructed in its architecture and furnishings in Malibu at the end of the 1960s, and then even more magnificently in 2004, by J. Paul Getty to house his Museum.


The sleeping satyr.


It was found during excavations on 6 March 1756 at the eastern end of the natatio, having fallen into the basin from its base.

«La estatua de metal que se sacó ayer d’estas grutas es alta 6 pal y representa un Fauno jóven, el cual es muy pulido, todo esnudo, cabello cabrero en la cabeza, y dos puntas de cuerno á la frente; la cabeza está separada, como tambien el brazo derecho en dox pedazos; la positura de dicha estatua es mantenerse con la mano izquierda la pierna izquierda, que la tiene levantada y el brazo derecho lo tiene manteniendose la cabeza. Cuya figura era situada ó sentada sobre un pequeño pilar de fabrica encima de la muralla del baño, y proprio en el frontespicio, con la pierna derecha tendida al natural, se ha encontrado dentro del mismo baño, y es compañero del que tiempo ha se encontró al oltro lado del baño, echado sobre un escollo.»
March 6th, (C. ad Acubierre).

The statue that was removed yesterday from these caves is 6 feet high and represents a young Faun, very polished, all naked, goat’s hair on his head and two horn tips on his forehead; the head is separated, as is the right arm in two pieces; the position of this statue is to hold its left leg with the left hand, which holds it up, and the right arm holds it by the head.
The figure of which was placed or seated on a masonry pillar above the wall of the pool, with its right leg naturally extended, was found inside the same pool, and is a mate of the one found some time ago, on the other side of the pool, lying on a rock.
The statue depicts a sleeping Satyr with its body lying down and relaxed. The trunk is slightly rotated to the left with the right arm bent upwards and the hand resting on the head, while the left arm falls powerlessly on the left side of the body; the right leg is almost outstretched, the left leg is bent.
The satyr held in his hand a rough, knotty stick used by shepherds and typical of semi-divine characters of a rustic nature.
Copy of a Hellenistic bronze (3rd century BC) from a micro-Asiatic environment.
The iconography refers to the classicist taste of the late Republican age.
Some have interpreted it as a free transformation of the Barberini Faun.


In October 1831, while the street leading from the Temple of Fortune to the exit of the ancient city, now called the Gate of Isis, was being cleared, the most noble entrance to a domestic building appeared

The remains of a high and wide wooden door supported with every kind of hardware, and with massive bronze circles, made these owners of the place think that they had stumbled upon a house of great importance during the excavation.
From the very first excavations of the building, the awareness of being in front of one of the most important dwellings in the Vesuvian city was manifested not only in the enthusiastic accents of the first speakers, but also in the search for a modern name appropriate to the majesty of what was being brought to light, Thus the house was variously referred to in the literature of the time as ‘Goethe’s House’ in memory of the 1831 visit by the son of the great German poet, ο as ‘House of the Great Musaic’ in the period immediately following the discovery of the Alexander mosaic in the second half of the same year.
In those years all the rooms of the house decorated with the beautiful mosaics were brought to light, and later they were transferred to Naples.

It is one of the largest houses in Pompeii, covering an entire block of about 3000 square metres, and dates back in its original layout to the 2nd century BC. The owner’s wealth and social standing can already be perceived from the street: the pavement bears a welcome inscription [HAVE] in Latin; the majestic doorway is framed by pillars with decorated capitals; the floor of the entrance is an inlay of polychrome triangles in yellow, green, red and pink marble (opus sectile).
The upper part of the walls, on both sides, is adorned with small temples in relief in which the lararium of the house is known.
The house has two lobbies and two peristyles around which are arranged other rooms: some of them are exceptionally decorated, others are reserved for the use of the family, and others are service rooms.
In the centre of the impluvium of the main atrium was the famous statue of the dancing satyr, or Faun, which gave its name to the house and is allusive to the name of the owner’s lineage: the Satrii.

In the living room, the exedra between the first and second peristyle is a copy of the famous 2nd century BC mosaic of the Battle of Issus, the decisive battle between Alexander the Great and the Persian king Darius, which changed the course of history.
This statuette is the most beautiful bronze to have been preserved by the Pompeian excavations, and of such preservation as to embellish its rare beauty even more.

«In it is remarkable a perfect correspondence of parts so rare to find in the figures of art, and almost impossible to find in reality. For the trunk , the arms, legs and all the parts of the body of this Faun correspond to the same character of form, in which the muscles are expressed so skilfully and in such harmony with the movements of his limbs that art cannot do better.»
Guglielmo Bechi, 1851