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image P339

Charles Heathcote Tatham (1772 - 1842)

The celebrated mosaic pavement found at Otricoli and now in the Grand circular Saloon of the Vatican

Watercolour on paper

Inscription: THE · CELEBRATED · ANTIQUE · MOSAIC · PAVEMENT · FOUND · AT · OTRICOLI · NOW · IN · THE · GRAND · CIRCULAR · SALLOON · OF · THE · VATICAN

Museum number: P339

Curatorial note

This exquisite watercolour of a Roman 2nd century polychrome octagonal mosaic was presumably drawn during Tatham's two years in Rome between July 1794 and July 1796.

Excavations of the Roman town just outside modern Otricoli in Umbria, Italy, began in 1775 under the patronage of Pope Pius VI and revealed baths, a theatre, a basilica and other buildings. This celebrated mosaic was discovered in the baths and subsequently lifted and relaid in the Sala della Rotonda of the Museo Pio-Clementino in the Vatican. Heads of Zeus and the Emperor Claudius, also from the Otricoli baths, are on show in the same room.

Roman Ocriculum was the first stop north of Rome on the via Flaminia (c.220BC) and was an important port (Porto dell’Olio) and stop on the road for goods and travellers.

Literature

Sophie Hay, Simon Keay and Martin Millett, Ocriculum (Otricoli, Umbria): An Archaeological Survey of the Roman Town, The British School at Rome (Archaeological Monograph 22), 2013


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