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House of the Large Fountain

Description of the House (Reg VI, Ins 8, 22, 1)

The House of the Large Fountain lies next to the House of the Small Fountain on the Via di Mercurio. The house was first excavated in 1826 and takes its name from the monumental fountain set in a nymphaeum against the back wall of its small garden. The impressive facade and doorway are constructed from large blocks of tufa (pictured opposite).
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The short fauces (a), which opens off the west side of the Via di Mercurio, has a fine marble threshold. The walls of the fauces retain some small patches of plasterwork but these are far too weathered to allow any description of the original decoration.

The fauces opens onto a reasonably sized atrium (b) (pictured right) which has in its centre a marble lined impluvium. Next to the impluvium is a
puteal used for drawing water from the cistern beneath. As can be seen from the accompanying photographs, the house is in a general state of disrepair with little in the way of remaining decoration.
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Judging by the odd shape of cubiculum (c) and the three blocked doorways on the south side of the atrium (one of which is visible in the photograph upper right) it would appear the the adjoining
Fullonica of L. Veranius Hypsaeus was extended northwards at some time to the detriment of the property.

In the south west corner of ala (d) (pictured opposite) is a short passageway which gives access to a flight of stairs to the upper floor. Opening off the south side of this passageway is a second passageway (e) (pictured below) which leads down to the kitchen area (f).
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On the north side of the atrium are two cubicula (l and m) which both retain areas of plasterwork with some rather faded remnants of fresco decoration. The small service room (n) also has some patches of decoration including part of a lower yellow frieze. On the west wall of this room is a flight of stairs to the upper floor.

The room in the best state of preservation in the house is the large cubiculum (o) (pictured right). The room was decorated in the fourth style with a yellow central zone above a lower red frieze. The upper zone consisted of small decorative panels on a white ground. In the west wall is a square niche.

In the centre of the west side of the atrium is the tablinum (k). The tablinum is in a particularly ruinous state with only parts of its north and south walls still standing.
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The tablinum was open to the atrium over its full width.
In the west wall of the tablinum is a wide doorway which opened directly onto the portico (r) and the small garden (s) to the west. In the south west corner of the tablinum is a second doorway which gave access to the oecus (p) to the south. This room had a large window in its west wall with a view of the portico and garden.
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The large triclinium (q) (pictured right) opens off the north west corner of the atrium. The room, like the rest of the house, is in a ruinous state, but it does retain large areas of plasterwork on its north and south walls. However, all detail of what the decoration consisted of has been lost save that it was set on a red ground. The triclinium had a second doorway in its south west corner giving direct access to the portico and garden. The room also had a large window in its west wall overlooking the garden.
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The portico, whose roof was supported by fluted tufa columns, overlooks the small garden with its central fountain after which the house has named (pictured right and below).
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The fountain consists of a pediment set over a niche completely faced with mosaic in poly- chrome glass tesserae. Water flowed from a rectangular opening in the niche to cascade down a small flight of steps into a basin below.
The rest of the decoration consists of tragic masks on either side of the niche and a bronze statue (since removed) of a putto with a dolphin set on the circular stand inside the basin.
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Off the south east corner of the atrium (pictured below) is a cubiculum (c). Save for a few plaster remnants the room is devoid of any decoration. In the south east corner of the room is a narrow arched recess (pictured left).
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On the north side of the kitchen (pictured below) is a large masonry hearth. Opening off the south side of the kitchen are three vaulted rooms (g, h and i) while on the west side is a doorway (j) (in the centre of the picture below) which once gave access to the Vicolo della Fullonica at door No. 1 but was blocked off prior to the eruption.
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Although the walls of the tablinum were in a poor state when the house was first excavated, the fresco decoration was still intact over large areas (pictured below in a contemporary drawing). Since that time, however, neglect and the elements have taken their toll, with little in the way of decoration now remaining (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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