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Light and Shadow at the House of Faun

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1 Light and Shadow at the House of Faun
Matt Wilson

2 Brief Info on the Site The House of Faun is a large, luxurious private estate located in Pompeii It is believed that construction began in the 2nd century BC and it is believed that the final architectural construction was completed in the first quarter of the 1st century BC, roughly around BC Contains a very famous piece of Hellenistic art, the Alexander Mosaic The house was rendered unusable following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, but the layers of ash helped to preserved the building itself and many of the artworks within it

3 The Alexander Mosaic The mosaic depicts the Battle of Issus, where Alexander the Great defeated the Persian king, Darius III The mosaic was done in a more Hellenistic style Located within the Alexander exedra section of the complex Following the initial archaeological done in 1830, the mosaic itself was lifted and moved to the Museo Nazionale in Naples in 1843

4 The Floor Plan The Main Entrance Tuscan Atrium Tetrastyle Atrium First Peristyle Alexander Exedra* Second Peristyle These areas were uniquely designed to provide an optimum view of one specific area of the house, namely the Alexander Exedra

5 The Purpose of the Alexander Exedra
The purpose of the Alexander exedra was ultimately to draw in the visitor's attention towards the main focal point of the house, the lavish Alexander Mosaic As Eugene Dwyer notes: “the room is so strategically placed that it would not be an exaggeration to say that the rest of the house had been designed and built around the site with the great treasure of mosaic art set in its floor.” The showcase of the mosaic is then further highlighted through the use of light and shadow This becomes the basis for Ethan Gruber’s examination into the use of light and shadow at the House of Faun

6 3D models of the House of Faun
Ethan Gruber’s Model, circa December 21st, 85 BC at 12:30 p.m. An additional top-down perspective

7 Gruber’s Task Gruber was tasked with created a 3D model of the House of Faun, which would show how the use of shading and lighting highlighted the Alexander Mosaic in the Alexander Exedra His initial results were less than satisfactory; the five columns of the first peristyle, the roofing and the two columns of the Alexander exedra effectively covered the area in shadow However, upon realising the numerous renovations that took place over the house’s construction, he realized that many of these designs were changed This can be seen by the removal of the five columns and the roof covering the Alexander exedra, bringing in the optimal amount of sunlight to illuminate the mosaic, specifically during the winter solstice

8 The Purpose of Lighting/Shading
“In Roman architecture important spaces are ‘announced’ by being made visually prominent.” – Gruber By focusing on the lighting and shadowing of a specific point, the focal point of the architecture does not have to be based on large, grandiose structures (i.e. obelisks), they could instead focus on smaller features For example, by having less available light in the two atriums, the visitors who entered the House of Faun would be drawn towards the large bright courtyards, instead of simply focusing in the areas there are in Then as the day progresses and sunlight begins to move towards the Alexander exedra, the visitors would once again be drawn to an even smaller location which ultimately highlights an extravagant piece of art

9 Works Cited Dobbins, J. J. and Ethan Gruber. "Modeling Hypotheses in Pompeian Archaeology: The House of the Faun." 38th Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. Granada, Spain: Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, October < /Modeling_Hypotheses_in_Pompei an_Archaeology_The_House_of_the_Faun>. Dwyer, Eugene. "The Unified Plan of the House of the Faun." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 60.3 (2001): October <>.

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