Description of the House (Reg VI, Ins 15, 7-8)
House of the Prince of Naples is situated on the west side of the
Vicolo dei Vettii. The house has a rather austere facade (on the left of
the photograph below) with some plaster remnants on the lower part of
the exterior walls.
The fauces (a) is decorated in the fourth style with a black central and lower zone topped by a white upper zone imitating ashlar blocks delineated in gray and white. The fauces leads directly to the atrium (b) (pictured below and opposite) which has a central impluvium and a marble table with richly carved supports. The walls of the main part of the atrium are decorated in a simple fourth style consisting
of a black lower zone, a red central zone, and a white upper zone
again, like the fauces, imitating ashlar blocks.
In the centre of the white panels are small rectangular
frescoes depicting hunting scenes and marine life. In the centre of the south wall is a
window which overlooks the small garden to the south.
A door in the west wall leads to a cubiculum (f) (pictured opposite) which
has a vaulted ceiling. The room is decorated in a similar way to the tablinum
with white panels framed in red above a lower black decorated
frieze. In the centre of the white panels are small pictures of
wildlife, one of which is reproduced here (pictured lower right).
In the centre of the left wall of the cubiculum is a small window which overlooks the garden (g) to the south (pictured below).
The garden has a temple style lararium (l) (pictured right) on its west wall. The lararium
is painted in shades of red and orange; the painting continues up the
columns that support the triangular pediment, which is itself painted in
orange and blue. In the base of the lararium is a small niche.
The eastern side of the garden is bound by an ambulatory (h) (pictured above and right) which connects the atrium with the rest of the house. The ambulatory is decorated in the fourth style with white panels framed in red above a lower black frieze. In the centre of the large white panel on the north wall of the ambulatory (pictured below) is a small delicate fresco of two birds with some fruit (pictured lower right).
The least damaged of the scenes is of Perseus
and Andromeda on the north wall (pictured right). In the scene Perseus holds the severed head of Medusa. The side panels on each wall contain floating figures. Above the richly decorated central zone is an equally richly decorated upper zone. Among the creatures
in the architectural framework and garlands of the zone are deer
and various forms of birdlife.
In the centre of the plain floor of the room is a multi-coloured marble inlay in opus sectile.
The third of the rooms which open off the ambulatory is the summer triclinium (i) (pictured above and right). The room is decorated in the fourth style with large framed central panels set in fantastic architecture on a white ground above a lower decorated red frieze.
panel on the south wall (left of centre in the picture above) contains a
male nude (perhaps Bacchus) while the equivalent panel on the west wall
(pictured upper right) displays a female nude (perhaps Venus). Next to
this figure is a small window which overlooks the garden to the west.
Set amongst the fantastic architecture are small painted panels
featuring figures set against an architectural backdrop.
the north of the entrance is a small room (pictured in the right
background above) and the remains of a stairway leading to the second
South of the entrance, in the north east corner of the atrium is a cubiculum
(c) (pictured below). The room is plainly decorated with a white
central zone divided into panels by fine gray lines above a lower black
frieze. Separating the central zone from the upper zone is a broad
denticulated stucco cornice.
Off the north west corner of the atrium
is the kitchen (d) (pictured left) which has a storeroom at its western
end. There is a small niche on the north wall above the hearth and
The irregularly shaped atrium
has an extension (e) to the west which is decorated differently from
the main body of the room. This area, probably used as the tablinum, is decorated in the fourth style with white panels separated by architectural motifs above a lower black, decorated frieze (pictured left).
There are three rooms which open off the eastern side of the ambulatory
The first room (k) is very plainly decorated with little in the way of
embellishment. On the room's eastern wall is a secondary entrance to the
house (at No. 7).
Immediately south of this room is an oecus
(j) (pictured left and lower left) which is richly decorated in the fourth style
. The decoration consists of white panels separated by architectural fancies above a lower decorative red frieze. The central panels of the three main walls contained a large mythological scene.
decoration on the south wall is now sadly missing, but the two
remaining scenes are still in situ. The less well preserved fresco of
the two is of Paris, Eros and Helen
on the east wall (visible in the centre of the picture upper left)
* 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)