Monday, April 12, 2010

Mosaic Floor at the Getty Villa

There are beautiful mosaics at the Getty Villa on Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Pallisades and most of them get walked on all day. And...and...I forgot my effing camera!  So I've resorted to using a beautiful picture from the About GoCalifornia page, which seems to be the same picture as the Getty Guidebook, taken by Richard Ross.

The mosaic floor in the Temple of Herakles in the Getty VIlla is a replica of a floor in another villa: the Villa dei Papiri outside the ancient city of Herculaneum.  The floor plan of that luxurious estate---buried by the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius--was copied by J. Paul Getty's architects and engineers in the 1970s to create the Getty Villa. This particular mosaic floor was found 100 ft underground, and was the first part of the Villa dei Papiri to be discovered, back in 1750.

So. My guidebook says that this floor is comprised of 22 concentric circles, each composed of triangles. Black Lucullan marble alternates with giallo antico marble, leading to the center--which looks like a black circle in this photo, but is actually green porphyry, surrounded by red (rosso) arrows forming a circle against a background of the giallo antico marble.

Four thousand pieces of marble make up the floor--and when the original was unearthed in the eighteenth century, engineer Weber lifted it out piece by piece, making detailed drawing and then reconstructing the floor. The original now ornaments the Naples Museo Archaeologico Nazionale.

And the beautiful replica is here in Los Angeles.

There's a lot to be said for forgetting one's camera and just enjoying what turned out to be a beautiful day without worrying about framing pictures. Especially when the internet provides better pictures than I could've taken anyway.

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