Description of the House (Reg I, Ins 11, 6-7)
|The House of Venus in a Bikini is located on the south side of the Via
dell' Abbondanza at its junction with the Vicolo della Nave Europa. The
rather plain entrance (A) is currently blocked off and the house is
consequently not open to visitors. Although the facade of the house
(pictured below) was first cleared in 1913, it wasn't until early 1954
that the interior of the house was excavated. Further excavations took
place in 1955 and 1961.
the southwest corner of the atrium excavators uncovered the remains of a cupboard in
which were found several household artifacts and some personal items. Among the items found * was the marble statuette of
Venus in a gold bikini (after which the house was named) and some fine gold jewellery (pictured lower right).
The statuette (pictured right) may also have come from the cupboard
under the stairs in the tablinum as the excavators reports are rather
sketchy about the exact location of the find.
the northwest corner of the atrium is a small cubiculum (c) which
appears to have been undergoing redecoration. The existing wall surface
had been readied for the application of new plaster, but this work had
not started at the time of the eruption.
The shop (d) in the north east corner of the property has a wide entrance off the Via
and is connected to the rest of the house by means of two doorways in
its southern wall. The westernmost doorway leads directly to the atrium
while the eastern doorway connects with a small room (e) which may at
one time have been an ala off the atrium but was subsequently
This room (e) was possibly a cubiculum or
perhaps a storeroom. The walls are coated with a layer of coarse plaster
and it may be that this plaster, similar in nature to the coarse
plaster found in the atrium, was a base coat in preparation for final
Two further cubicula occupy the remainder of the east
wall of the atrium. Cubiculum (f) is decorated in the fourth style with
white panels framed in red above a lower yellow decorative frieze. The
(g) (pictured below) is decorated in the fourth style with white panels
mythological scenes accompanied by floating figures all above a lower
The house is also occasionally referred to as the House of Maximus after an inscription, 'Maximus Rog(at)',
found on the facade of the building. Two further inscriptions found
inside the house, however, refer to two completely different
individuals, leaving the ownership of the property at the time of the
eruption open to debate.
fauces (a) (pictured left) is decorated in the fourth style with yellow
panels framed in red above a lower black frieze. The yellow panels
contain central medallions featuring female heads. The decoration is
unfinished and was despoiled by graffiti prior to the eruption.
fauces opens onto a rectangular atrium (b) which has rooms off all but
its western side and has at its centre an impluvium once decorated with
coloured marbles. On the south side of the impluvium are three masonry
supports each painted yellow with a red border. The two shorter supports
possibly sustained a table while the taller, central support may have
been intended as a pedestal for statuary.
atrium (pictured left) was undecorated, the walls merely coated with a
layer of coarse plaster. This lack of decoration coupled with the
unfinished state of the decoration in the fauces tends to suggest that
the house was in a state of flux at the time of the eruption.
tablinum (h) is on the south side of the atrium, directly opposite the
entrance. The room has a wide opening onto the atrium while on its
southern wall are a door and window which open onto the garden to the
rear. The tablinum (pictured lower left) is decorated in the fourth
style with yellow
panels framed in red above a lower red frieze. Like the decoration of
the fauces, the yellow
panels contain central medallions of female heads, but the decoration
also features a figured panel of Dionysus and Silenus (pictured below). In the north west corner a flight of stairs led to the upper floor.
walled garden (i) (pictured left) retains much of its fourth style
fresco decoration on its south and west walls. The decoration consists
of garden scenes featuring trees, birds and flowers framed by broad yellow and red borders. On the wall in the south east corner of the garden is a small niche.
triclinium (j) (pictured left) is entered from the east side of the
garden. The decoration of the room is in the fourth style and consists
of framed yellow panels on a white ground featuring architectural motifs
and standing figures all above a lower red decorative frieze. The
yellow panels contain small floating figures and a central mythological
scene. The two surviving scenes are of Artemis with Acteon and the
Judgement of Paris (pictured below).
kitchen (k) was entered from the garden by means of a narrow doorway (left)
in the east wall (now blocked off). The walls of the kitchen were were
finished with a layer of plain plaster.
* Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are
reproduced by permission from their website at
(Su concessione del Ministero per
i Beni e le Attività Culturali:
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di
Napoli e Pompei)