Pompeii — brought back to life
The Grand Palais show exploring a city left deserted by a natural disaster has strong new resonance for today
For a while the lockdown left our cities as strange, almost alien urban landscapes, abandoned, eerily empty. Anyone who has walked into one of the exquisitely frescoed rooms in Pompeii has already had a little hint of that experience. Vivid paintings, near intact mosaics of incredible beauty, that landscape of an azure sea and cypresses but only the sounds of crickets and the occasional snapping camera. This was a city stopped in its tracks by an eruption, buried alive and concealed from the sun and human eyes for almost 17 centuries.
When it was rediscovered and slowly uncovered, it changed Western civilisation. It prompted a revival in Roman architecture, it affected the look of the Western world’s interiors, it inspired sculpture and it brought archaeology and the emerging museums into the heart of culture.