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House of the Deer

Description of the House (Ins IV, 21)

The House of the Deer opens off the west side of Cardo V (pictured below). The house is one of the most luxurious waterfront dwellings so far discovered in Herculaneum and is believed to have belonged to Q. Granius Verus by virtue of the find of a loaf of bread bearing his stamp.

Built around the time of Claudius, it can be divided into two sections: the entrance, with its testudinate atrium and associated suite of rooms, and the panoramic terrace, joined by a garden surrounded by a windowed cryptoporticus.
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In the south west corner of the atrium a doorway (shown in the photograph above) leads directly to the large triclinium (c) (pictured below) which is decorated in the fourth style with plain black panels framed in red separated by architectural motifs all above a broad lower black frieze.
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Beyond the triclinium, in the north west corner of the house, are four small rooms. The anteroom (h) (pictured below), is decorated in the fourth style with black panels on a red ground above a lower red frieze.

Connected to this room is room (i) (visible in the photo of room (h)) which is also decorated in the fourth style with yellow/red panels separated by architectural motifs all above a lower black frieze.

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The tablinum (f), pictured below looking back towards the triclinium portal, opens off the southern side of the cryptoporticus. This enormous room, flanked by two smaller rooms, has lost its roof and virtually all of its fourth style decoration.
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In the centre of the terrace is a gazebo whose roof was supported by four pillars composed of
opus vittatum mixtum, alternating rows of brick and tufa blocks, stuccoed and painted red and white (pictured below).
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From the entrance on Cardo V the fauces (a) opens onto a small, square atrium (b) (pictured left and lower left) which is decorated in the fourth style with plain blue/black panels above a lower black frieze with an upper zone consisting of architectural motifs on a white ground.

In start contract to the neighbouring House of the Mosaic Atrium, this atrium is rather unprepossessing. Instead of being the focus of the house, the atrium merely acts as a gateway to the house, offering the visitor only a brief glimpse of the magnificent rooms that lie beyond.

The whole visual drama of the house lies in the opposite axis that runs from the triclinium (c) through the peristyle (e) and the tablinum (f) to the gazebo set in the centre of the panoramic terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples to the south.

A flight of stairs off the atrium leads up to a second floor gallery (visible in the photographs opposite) which gave access to a series of upper floor apartments.
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The triclinium has a geometric mosaic floor of polychrome marble (pictured above). As mentioned previously the main axis of the house runs from the triclinium down to the pergola and terrace, providing a dramatic view (pictured below) for the assembled diners.
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To the north of these rooms is a cubiculum (j) (pictured below) which is also decorated in the fourth style with red panels framed in black separated by geometric motifs, all on a red ground.
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The atrium and triclinium both open onto the cryptoporticus (d), which encloses the central garden (e). The cryptoporticus (pictured left and lower left) is decorated in the fourth style in a range of colours with architectural motifs and features more than sixty scenic panels like the one pictured below. The panels (partly removed in the 18th century) represent scenes with tiny cupids, still-lifes and various architectural landscapes. The cryptoporticus has a fine black and white mosaic floor and is lit by a series of rectangular windows overlooking the garden.
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On the garden side the walls of the cryptoporticus were painted red and white (pictured opposite). The main architectural feature on the north side of the garden area is the portal leading to and from the triclinium. The pediment of this grand portal is ornamented with a fine mosaic of Oceanus flanked by several cupids riding sea creatures (shown  below).
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The room (pictured above looking south) has an opus sectile floor. The north side of the room extended out into the garden area with large side windows and a wide central portal. The south side of the room was open over most of its width to the cryptoporticus (pictured left) and the panoramic terrace beyond. The terrace, built out over the town wall, commanded magnificent views over the Bay of Naples to the south.
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On display in the house are copies of two marble groups of deer being attacked by dogs, the originals of which were found in the garden. Two further statues discovered in the gardens are also on display: the Satyr with a Wineskin and the Drunken Hercules (pictured above).


Panoramic View of the House






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