Sara Lenzi

The representation of marbles in painting, between imitation and imagination

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Faux marbles decorations in Roman painting have been the topic of several books, articles, and doctoral dissertations. Nonetheless, the distinction between imitation and imagination remains largely undetermined and these patterns have so far resisted all attempts at straightforward classi%cation. Based on a choice of case studies from the Vesuvian sites, this article engages with the representation of marbles in painting. In particular, the case of the most widespread type of faux marbles pattern, imitating the marmor numidicum or giallo antico, may contribute to a clearer understanding of this decorative choice, which relies on a peculiar interplay between reality and fantasy. Concluding thoughts about the use of marble in order to imitate other types of marbles allows to broaden these considerations, pointing to promising avenues of investigation for future research.

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