Anna Anguissola - The Materials of Light: Black Walls and Mirrors in the House of Pompeii
A small set of obsidian slabs have been recovered from the houses of Roman Pompeii. There, panels of a dark stone were included in black painted walls and surrounded by painted frames as ‘mirrors. ’This lecture explores the function and meaning of obsidian mirrors in light of Roman discourse on matters and their qualities, both physical and ethical. The owners and decorators of the houses of Pompeii chose these pieces for both their exotic flavor and their potential to stage similarities and contrasts to a variety of other materials and techniques (water, marble, silver, gold, and wall plaster). Thanks to on-site study of the evidence, including the scientific characterization of the stones, this lecture provides the first full account for the supply, technologies, sensual appreciation, and meanings of obsidian optically related materials in the Roman antiquity.
Anna Anguissola is Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology and Director of the Collection of Plaster Casts and Antiquities at the University of Pisa. She holds an Habilitation from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich (2016) and an Italian Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale “I Fascia” (session 2016-2018). Her principal research on Graeco-Roman visual material and literary culture has focused on architectural technologies, urban development, the relationship between Greek and Roman art, the history and techniques of ancient sculpture, the Greek and Latin literary sources on the figural arts, and the reception of classical art in later periods.
Anna Anguissola is the author of numerous publications on international journals, as well as of handbook articles and textbooks aimed at a broader audience. She has published books on Roman sculpture (Supports in Roman Marble Sculpture: Workshop Practice and Modes of Viewing, Cambridge University Press 2018, reviewed by, among others, The Times Literary Supplement), on the Greek and Latin literary sources on the figural arts (Difficillima imitatio. Immagine e lessico delle copie tra Grecia e Roma, L’Erma di Bretschneider 2012), and on Roman housing in Pompeii (Intimità a Pompei: Riservatezza, condivisione e prestigio negli ambienti ad alcova di Pompei, De Gruyter 2010). Her most recent book on Pliny the Elder’s treatment of artistic material has been publshed by Routledge in July 2021 (Pliny the Elder and the Matter of Memory. An Encyclopaedic Workshop, Routledge 2021).
Presented by the Department of Art History as part of the 2021/22 Smart Lecture series supported by the Smart Family Foundation.
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