Wall painting documentation

The aim of the wall painting documentation is to collect every piece of information of the wall decoration of the house. To achieve this purpose the present condition of the wall paintings is photographed, recorded into drawings and described verbally. Samples of pigments and layers of stucco are collected and analysed where appropriate and not harmful to the paintings. In addition, all previous data from archives and publications is collected. The well preserved wall paintings in the House of Marcus Lucretius enable us to form an overview of the decorative paintings: the process of painting, decoration schemes, relations with other paintings as well as the changes and damages occurring on the walls.

The walls with somewhat preserved paintings will be drawn with the help of scaled ortho images in scale 1:20. Data will be added to these drawings during the field seasons – mostly those details which are not visible in photographs. Every relevant detail will also be drawn in scale 1:1 directly from the wall to a transparent material. This method does not require for example huge plastic sheets the size of the whole wall, but the data collected will be sufficient for accurately documenting the wall and creating reconstructions.

Written notes can be added directly to the drawings in the field, but the main part of the verbal descriptions are written on forms. The information collected from the well preserved wall paintings can fill several of sheets. The whole complexity of the design of each of the rooms has to be considered. Because of the fact that the most important paintings, mainly central panels, have been taken to the Archaeological Museum in Naples in the 19th century, the documentation of these has to be done in Naples. To understand the original pictorial programme also old pictures, drawings, water colours and photographs have to be looked through, because the condition of the wall paintings has severely deteriorated. Towards that information one has to be critical though.

The collaboration with conservators and conservator students of the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (formerly EVTEK Institute of Art and Design) have produced analyses of the colour pigments used in the wall paintings. The original colours have changed in many cases through the damages caused by various reasons, for example by the heat of the eruption and weathering, and partly because of the wax they have been covered with.