The Roman House at Hopkins | Roman Walls and Floors

A Black Fresco Fragment

By Adam Tabeling

Accession Number: JHAM 991
Measurements: Length: 18cm, Width:16cm
Material: Pigment, plaster
Culture/Date: Roman, 1st c. CE
Provenance: Unknown

The midnight-black background of this fresco fragment emphasizes, the silver candelabrum in the foreground, by means of contrast. The center of the candelabrum is ornamented with a horizontal base that blossoms from the center like a flowering acanthus plant with curling leaves. This motif most likely framed a larger composition, perhaps one similar to the “Black Room” from the Villa of Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase (Metropolitan Museum of Art), in which candelabra present the illusion of illuminating the darkness of the room.