House of the Faun & the Alexander Mosaic

The most impressive aspect of the House of the Faun is the spectacular Alexander Mosaic. A massive mosaic frieze measuring 272 cmX 513cm, the mosaic depicts a scene of battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia.  The scene depicts the final moments of the Battle of Isus at the turning point where Darius realises he’s about to be defeated and is turning around.

More than a million pieces of glass or tesserae were used to create this mosaic. The original is at the Museum of Naples, but at the House of the Faun itself is a copy.

Floor Mosaic- the Alexander Mosaic
Floor Mosaic- the Alexander Mosaic

It is not hard to imagine the feelings of a visitor being received in the room- the awe in seeing a mosaic so splenderous on the floor – not even on the wall. He could imagine the enormous wealth of the owner from just that one mosaic.

Alexander on his horse Bucephalus
Alexander on his horse Bucephalus
Darius in his moment of despair
Darius in his moment of despair

What I love about this mosaic is this depiction of one of the soldiers who is falling down from a wound but as he falls down we see him looking at his reflection on his shield (and we see his face not directly but through the reflection).

The Soldier and His Reflection
The Soldier and His Reflection

Now remember this is a mosaic and not a painting so the pieces of glass had to carefully set next to each other to bring out the exact effect. It is believed that this mosaic was crafted around 100 BC and that it could have been originally inspired from a painting.

A modern copy of this mosaic done between 2003 and 2005 cost over $200,000.

The original frieze at the Naples Museum
The original frieze at the Naples Museum

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nirmala says:

    So amazing and wonderful! Breathtaking details!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      It is quite detailed- amazing to wonder how they did it!

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