Legion of Honor Presents
Last Supper in Pompeii: From the Table to the Grave
May 7, 2021 – August 29, 2021
In AD 79, the Bay of Naples was rocked by the fiery eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii and nearby villages and farms were completely buried under pumice and hot ash, which killed thousands in the midst of their daily activities. Plaster casts of these bodies are a dramatic reminder of this disaster but, like a fly caught in amber, what was preserved gives us a picture of what life was like in a thriving Roman city. The exhibition brings us back into this world by focusing on everyday life and especially on food and drink. Along with the pots, pans, and other paraphernalia in the distribution, preparing, and serving food, this exhibition includes glorious works of art, which reveal the splendor and luxury loved by the wealthy Romans who called Pompeii their home.
The exhibition, originally organized by Paul Roberts of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, brings to San Francisco magnificent Roman sculpture, mosaics, and frescoes, as well as cups, utensils, and silver dining services for banquets to reveal how the ancients (like today’s San Franciscans) loved to eat and drink. It also offers a glimpse of how the food and wine were produced and distributed before being brought to the kitchens and ultimately to the dining tables. The exhibition also looks at the different areas of the house in which food and drink played a major role. Entering from the street, the presentation takes the visitor through the atrium with its shrine into the garden at the center of the house with its fruit trees and medicinal plants. An entire wall of frescoes from a summer dining room, open to the fresh air at one end, has been brought from Pompeii for this exhibition.