Bridal adornment scene, full scale replica

Villa of the Mysteries Mural Cycle in Twentieth-Century Watercolor by Maria Barosso (KM 2000.2.1 - 7)

Born on August 21, 1879, Maria Barosso was a native of Turin in Northern Italy.  She was trained as an artist at the prestigious Accademia Albertina in that city, from which she received her degree with honors.  For a time after that she was appointed instructor of drawing in the public schools.  Moving to Rome, she became the head of drawings for the Superintendency of Monuments for Rome and Lazio.

    The Centerpiece of the present exhibition is a series of twentieth-century watercolor panels that represent the famous ancient fresco from the house at Pompeii now known as the Villa of the Mysteries.  These invaluable copies of the Pompeian painting were commissioned and brought to the University of Michigan through the resourcefulness and foresight of Francis Willey Kelsey, Professor of Latin Language and Literature at the University of Michigan from 1889 until 1927.   Kelsey seems to have had a number of motives for commissioning the Barosso copies of the the paintings in the Villa of the Mysteries.  The ancient frescoes, which had been uncovered for only some fifteen years prior to Kelsey's commission, gained almost instant fame in archaeological and art historical circles and were likewise fairly well known to the general public.  Kelsey apparently wished to have faithful copies of the frescoes in order to make them available for study in the United States. Since the arrival of the paintings in Ann Arbor, only two panels have ever been exhibited for the public; some have also been used occasionally for teaching purposes at the University.  Thus, mounted some seventy years after Kelsey's death, the present exhibition finally achieves Kelsey's purpose in commissioning the production of accurate copies of the ancient frescoes in the Villa of the Mysteries.

-- Elizabeth de Grummond, from "Maria Barosso, Francis Kelsey, and the Modern Representation of an Ancient Masterpiece," from Gazda, ed. The Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii: Ancient Ritual, Modern Muse (Ann Arbor, 2000).

                           Scene showing a pan, panisca, and frightened woman. 5/6 scale replica