A broad flight of steps led up from the villa's main point of entry (a)
to a porticoed vestibule (b). Several rooms opened off this vestibule,
the rooms on the north side (d and c) leading through to a large peristyle
which had rooms off all but its west side.
Although there were many rooms off the peristyle
, it is the rooms that
lie on its north side that are of particular interest as these rooms
were the source of the villa's notable frescoes. As with many
excavations of the period the work was carried out in a less than
scientific manner. The frescoes were stripped from the walls and
auctioned off to the highest bidder. Most of the frescoes went to the
Metropolitan Museum in New York while some remained in Naples and others
went to museums in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The large room (g) in the north east corner of the villa was possibly a
. It was richly decorated, mostly in reds and blues,
with architectural imagery displaying visual ambiguities as illustrated
by the photograph opposite. This particular fresco now resides in the
Musee Royal de Mariemont, Belgium.
The villa's main triclinium
(h) was accessed off the north east corner
of the peristyle
. It was a rather square room decorated with a series of
eight main scenes separated by columns. On the west wall, following the
image of a decorative doorway, was the scene of an elderly man with a
walking stick (in the left of picture opposite taken from the National
Archaeological Museum in Naples).
On the peristyle
wall immediately west of the entrance to the triclinium
was a fresco of a winged genius (pictured below). (For a re- construction of the north side of the peristyle
see the image at the foot of the page).
The room (l) in the centre of the north side of the peristyle
. On its east wall was a fine second style
fresco composed of
garlands, masks and bulls heads (pictured opposite). The decorative bulls
heads support garlands of laurel leaves intertwined with sheaths
A reconstruction of the cubiculum
itself (shown right) can be viewed in
the Metropolitan Museum, New York. The second style decoration is
complimented by a fine black and white mosaic floor.
The side walls are very similarly decorated. The central panel
of each, framed by elaborately decorated red columns, contains a shrine
consisting of a short entablature supported by two pillars (pictured
|The villa, excavated in 1900 (a contemporary photograph is shown below), derives its
name from an inscription on a bronze vase found in room (f) on the south side of the peristyle.
However, a second inscription, this time of one Lucius Herennius Florus,
found on a seal and now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, could equally testify to the owner's name.
A rather grand villa rustica, the majority of the villa served as a residence for the owner while only a small part functioned as a farmhouse. The decoration of the
villa, which dates to sometime around 40–30 BC, attests to the good taste of the original owner. The fact that this decoration was not replaced by another, more contemporary, decoration in the first century AD is a clear indication that there was already an awareness of the quality of the villa's frescoes.
The surviving frescoes are extremely fine examples of the late second style, similar in many ways to those in the Villa of the Mysteries.
The second scene (on the right of the above photograph) was of
two women, one seated, one standing, with a shield between them. Various
interpretations of this scene have linked the figures with the
Antigonid dynasty in Macedonia, but the fresco may also simply be the
personification of Syria and Macedonia.
The north wall contained three scenes, on the left Dionysus and Ariadne, in the centre a scene of Venus with Amor and on the right the Three Graces.
down the east wall were three frescoes which are now in the
Metropolitan Museum in New York. The first of these was of a seated woman
playing a kithara (pictured upper left). Behind her stands a young girl,
perhaps her daughter. The central scene was
of a man and woman seated together on a gilded chair (pictured below).
The figures may represent Achilles and his mother Thetis.
The final scene on the east wall was of a woman bearing a
shield (pictured left). On the front of the shield is a male figure with
a white headband. The decoration on the shield may allude to a
Hellenistic heir, while the woman is perhaps a priestess.
Satyr masks and sacred baskets containing snakes hang down
below, suspended by delicate red ribbons. Above the central zone was a frieze of green and yellow blocks topped by a stuccoed cornice.
To the west of the exedra is a cubiculum (m) with an ante
room (n), probably the master bedroom of the villa, with the ante room
providing a intimate space for receiving a few close friends away from
the more public triclinium. On the west side of the ante room was the fresco pictured below
which can be viewed in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam.
To either side of the shrine are views of the
entrance to a fantastic country estate (pictured above). The entrance
portal is an elaborate double door and the architecture beyond is vast
and complex, a pastiche of balconies, towers and buildings.