The Artist and Journal of Home Culture | 2019

Mixed-Media Domestic Ensembles in Roman Sicily: The House of Leda at Soluntum



Built in the second to early-first century BCE, the House of Leda at Soluntum, a city on the northwest coast of Sicily, was renovated in the first century CE. The most prominent change to the residence was the inclusion of figural Fourth-Style wall paintings in its dining room. The fresco ensemble reveals a particular interest in the painted depiction of stone, such as an image of Leda and the swan as a marble statue and trompe l’oeil blocks of colored marble and granite from around the Mediterranean. The house renovation was not wholesale since the owner also chose to preserve a number of decorative elements from the earlier, Hellenistic-era phase of the residence, including two sculptures, cut-limestone pavements, and an intricate mosaic of an astronomical instrument. In this article I argue that the tension created between the medium of paint, and its use to mimic marble and stone, resulted in a unified, mixed-media domestic ensemble. The viewer was encouraged to compare and contrast the faux marble and stone in the dining room’s Fourth-Style frescoes with the Hellenistic-era marble and stone artworks throughout the rest of the house. This juxtaposition of older and newer decorative elements reveals that the owner of the House of Leda positioned himself as both a member of the Roman provincial elite as well as a local benefactor and custodian of Sicily’s rich Hellenistic culture.

Volume 8
Pages 62
DOI 10.3390/ARTS8020062
Language English
Journal The Artist and Journal of Home Culture

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