Les ports de la città dipinta et leur place dans les représentations picturales du port

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Pascal Arnaud



The so-called città dipinta is a wall painting found under the Baths of Trajan on an triple arch at the entrance of a monumental building whose identity and function still are unclear. This article discusses the representation of the two ports above and under the image of a city which is the only extant figure of a group that consisted in at least two, maybe four connected images. It focuses on the originality of this figure showing an empty although ideal city and its two empty ports. This emptiness is unique in Roman landscape painting. Its also points out the pictorial stereotypes the images of the ports rely on and brings parallels to paitings preserved in the Vesuvian area. It then discusses the topic and documentary value of the images of the two ports, both fortified. They seem to illustrate two different kinds of ports: above, a narrow port with shipsheds, which seems to provide the image of a port of war, while the one under the city, along roofed houses, seems to be a port of trade, both without a single ship. These form a complementary portual figure. This also provides us with the first pictorial occurrence of a feature described only in post-antique texts, whose existence was nevertheless suggested by several clues : the entrance channel could be covered by a vault and closed by a device.


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