Mosaic panel

Roman period, late 3rd century A.D.
H. 64 cm (25 13⁄64 in) W. 84 cm (33 5⁄64 in)

Private collection, Switzerland, since 1998
Expertise from Dr Marian Wenzel FSA, Fine Art Research (1932-2002)

Ars Amatoria - The art of love in Antiquity, 34, ill. 44

Depicting a couple of lovers embracing in a wooded, rocky landscape. Adjacent to the column featuring a knob finial and the spindly tree is a man identified as a youth by his clean-shaven face and cropped hair. His left arm is resting behind his head : the traditional gesture signifying relaxation, abandonment and even ecstasy. He is embraced by a young woman whose dark hair is held in place by a 'vitta', or fillet (a narrow band of cloth). She reaches up to pull his face towards hers to kiss his lips.

Mosaic were produced by pressing tesserae (small individual tiles, usually formed in the shape of a cube) of different colors and occasional pieces of glass into soft mortar which was then squeezed into the spaces between the squares. The surface would then be cleaned and polished. Underneath many Roman mosaics is a sketch that served as a pattern for the artist to follow. Most mosaics were intended for floors, although occasionally they can be found on walls and ceilings.

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