Today (in the rain), having finished a major piece of writing, I went back to the Montreal Museum of Fine Art Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, but this time not to An afternoon of Art and our old Parisian friend Lautrec. Today I went with a local friend, and many many other Montrealers seeking respite from the rain, and journeyed back about 2000 years to Pompeii. It was a great exhibition, some brilliant pieces that I hope you will enjoy, but the layout and the lighting left plenty to be desired. But enough of my thoughts, let’s go to Pompeii! Starting with a little statuary, as you do – just love the detail in bronze and marble. The hair. And do you see how the folds in the woman’s cloak were originally added in lengths fitted in to make the flow of the fabric? Just exquisite workmanship to make the layers of marble cloth all fall so naturally. Apologies for the gratuitous selfie.
And what lady would be without her jewels? Sorry there weren’t many.
Sadly too many of us get kitchen and eating utensils rather than gold jewels, but you have to say these are pretty special. I mean look at that strainer!
And you have to love some glass from the eastern Empire.
And some more bronze. Not sure I’d like to pop down to the shop for a “head” weight of lentils though. The base was the stand for an elaborate oil lamp candelabra, with oil lamps instead of candles, clearly. I just liked the detail in the colours and the flowers.
Somebody loved fishing and seafood, what a great mosaic!
And somebody loved their dog.
Oh and some garden ornaments.
A lovely muse
And of course the gods. Poor Apollo’s lost something, Isis and Venus are cold, and our Gladiator looks kind of bored.
I really enjoyed the detail in the lovely frescoes, just beautiful.
Which is where things started to get a little raunchy, apologies to the goat, although the label did say that she and Pan were sharing a tender gaze. Just be thankful I didn’t photograph them from the other side. The bronze gentleman is self-lubricating to ensure a good harvest – hey I didn’t write the signs!
But we are all mortal, and the truth of Pompeii is that many of its inhabitants were buried along with it’s treasures. It all got real in the last room.
Some of you will know that where bodies were covered in ash, after all this time the body is totally gone and all that remains is a human shaped void. Part of the Pompeii project in recent years has been to cast moulds of these voids, to give these people back their final moments. I expected to find it horrific, but it wasn’t. These were real people. This man sat and tried to cover his mouth and nose. Maybe prayed. The old man lay down. There was a woman with a child in her arms (not pictured).
Pompeii exhibitions aren’t just about beautiful things frozen in time. These were real people, and it was so appropriate that they too had their place in their history, unforgotten.