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image L130

A stucco fragment from Pompeii

Pre 80 AD
Terminus ante: the eruption of Vesuvius 79 AD

Stucco

Height: 5.5cm
Width: 6cm
Depth: 1.8 to 4cm

Museum number: L130

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 495help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

This may be the only antique piece that the young Soane brought home from his two year Grand Tour and even though it was not much more than a souvenir it might be considered the 'starting point' of his collection. He adopted just such a rich red colour for his Pompeian red Library-Dining Room.

This small fragment appears in the earliest inventories of the Museum (1837) amongst a group of miscellaneous small items stored in the drawer of a table in Soane's Library but noted as having been found in 'different places' around the house. The items were numbered later by Walter Spiers in 1906 who added them to the end of the sequence of itens listed in the Library. The entry for L130 (AB inventory, p.10) reads 'Some pieces of Stucco brought from Pompeii by Mr Soane 1780' [1780 is the year Soane returned to England from Italy]. The first two words have been struck out and replaced with 'A piece' in pencil - with a note that this correction dates from 21 October 1875. The paper wrapper to this piece does not help as 'stucco' could be singular or plural.

Even though Rome was his main destination, Soane visited Naples several times - the first being in December 1778 with Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry, later the 4th Earl of Bristol. During these visits he visited the excavations in Pompeii. Pompeii had only been rediscovered in 1748 and was a key site for students and lovers of antiquity (for the influence of Pompeii on English architects in the 19th century, see Frank Salmon, Building on Ruins, The Rediscovery of Rome and English Architecture, 2000, esp. pp 76-88).

Provenance help-art-provenance

Brought from Pompeii by John Soane in 1780. This fragment is wrapped in a piece of paper inscribed 'Stucco from Pompeii / Brought by Mr Soane 1780'.

Exhibition history

Hooked on Books: The Library of Sir John Soane Architect 1753-1837, Weston Gallery, University Park, Nottingham, 30 April - 30 August 2004


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk