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House of Queen Margherita

Description of the House (Reg V, Ins 2, 1,a)

The House of Queen Margherita lies on the north side of the Via di Nola at its junction with the Vicolo di Cecilio Giocondo. The house is in a dilapidated condition having been neglected and left to the ravages of the elements since it was initially excavated in 1883. The property also suffered bomb damage during World War II. Access to the house is by way of an open area (a) (pictured below) which has a broad entry on the Via di Nola with a narrower second entrance off the side street.
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The fauces (a) (pictured right), which is devoid of decoration, opens onto a square atrium (b). The atrium (pictured below) had a central impluvium of which only a few traces remain. The atrium itself and the rooms opening immediately off it are all in a ruinous condition with no surviving decoration.
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The adjoining room (h) (pictured above, right and below) is decorated in the fourth style with large black panels separated by fantastic architecture above a lower black frieze. The central panels on each wall contain a mythological scene. On the west wall (pictured above) is Marsyas and Olympus (pictured right).
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The scene on the south wall (pictured above) is of Danae and the Golden Rain with Zeus seated on the left in human form (pictured opposite). The scene on the east wall is less clear and appears to show a standing female figure next to a seated male figure, possibly Meleager.
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The yellow panels have an internal decorative border while the central blue panels each contain a mythological scene. The scene on the east wall (pictured above and opposite) is of Narcissus sitting amongst a group of Cherubs and Nymphs.
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To the west of the garden was the service area including the kitchen and latrine (k) (pictured opposite). Against the south wall of the kitchen are the remains of a masonry hearth while on the west wall is a small arched niche (in the left of the photograph opposite). The walls of the kitchen retain a few small faded patches of plasterwork but nothing in the way of decoration. A low masonry wall separated the kitchen from the latrine to the north. The remaining service rooms in the north west corner of the house are all in a ruinous condition.

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On the west side of the atrium is a corridor (d) which originally led to a doorway opening onto the side street; this entrance seems to have been blocked off sometime before the eruption. Next to the corridor are the remains of a flight of stairs (e) to the upper floor.

Opening off the north side of the atrium is a wide circulation space (f) (pictured opposite) which leads to the garden area (j). The rooms opening off this circulation space are all in a much better state than the rest of the house, generally having retained much of their fourth style decoration.


The first of these rooms (g) is the least well preserved of the three with most of its plaster work in a fragmentary state. The decoration of the walls survived the effects of the eruption reasonably well, but the effects of weathering combined with the damage sustained due to allied bombing during World War II meant that much of the plasterwork was lost; this can be seen by comparing the two pictures (left and lower left) of the southwest corner of the room.
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The vaulted room was decorated in the fourth style with large white panels separated by fantastic architecture set above a lower dark red decorative frieze.
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The central panels on each wall contained a mythological scene. On the south wall, visible in the black and white picture opposite, the scene depicted Poseidon and Amymone while on the rear (west) wall the scene was of Leda and the Swan. The scene on the north wall sadly did not survive the eruption. The side panels had internal decorative borders and contained a series of floating figures.
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The triclinium (i) which opens off the east side of the circulation space is decorated in the fourth style with alternating yellow and blue panels separated by fantastic architecture on a dark red ground all above a lower black decorative frieze (pictured left and below).
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The scene on the south wall (pictured left) was of Ariadne abandoned by Theseus but this has now been lost while the scene on the west wall depicts the Rage of Lycurgus. The upper zone consisted of figures and bird life set amongst fantastic architecture on a white ground. The room was lit by a window in its north wall which overlooked the garden area (j) to the north.
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The walls of the garden area retain some large areas of plasterwork but all decorative detail has been lost. The area is currently planted with hedging, some shrubbery and a few trees (pictured left).
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* Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are reproduced by permission from their website at www.pompeiiinpictures.com
(Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali: Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei)


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