Monday 5 April 2010

Exhibition of plaster casts at the Boscoreale Antiquario

As absurd as I find the term "frozen victims" for the plaster casts of people & animals at Pompeii, the exhibition about the history of the casts and their creation might be a fascinating and useful one for academic types and tourists alike (provided tourists can find their way to Boscoreale).

It's my hope that the exhibition problematizes the casts a bit more than the BBC article does, portraying the casts as straightforward and scientific.

I believe Gene Dwyer has been consulting on this exhibition. Maybe he will chime in here (Hi Gene!).

The video on the BBC page might be of use for students' first encounter with the plaster casts.

EDIT: In case you haven't yet seen Dwyer's great essay on plaster casts of Pompeian victims, read it here at Interpreting Ceramics.


Jo Berry said...

There is an Electa pamphlet about this exhibition, and some long explanatory panels in the antiquarium itself, written by Dott.ssa Stefani. I thought they were great - they give a good level of detail about the casts, how and where they were found. I have to say that all the exhibitions oranised by Grete Stefani at the Antiquarium have been, in my opinion, extremely good.

For the most thorough discussion of the casts, and their role in the history of the excavations at Pompeii, you should definitely check out Gene Dwyer's forthcoming book on the topic. This is a great book, I loved it, and I plan to post the details about it as soon as it is released (in the next few months).

goodturner said...

Gene Dwyer's online essay contains a wonderful chronology of the creation of the plaster casts. This has been immensely helpful on my ability to date and catalog dozens of 19th-century photographs I have that feature the casts. Looking forward to the new book...

Eugene Dwyer said...

I agree with Francesca that the term "frozen" leaves me cold. I think it was the opposite impression that first struck people, namely, that the victims seemed animated that was so striking. I wish I could take credit for what appears to be a splendid exhibition, but I can't. My approach, like goodturner, is through old photographs and contemporary sources.

Dott.ssa Stefani's observation that the works seem to transcend archaeology is an uncanny (and ironic) echo of Fiorelli himself when he first announced his discovery.

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