Images from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
To our modern sensibility, what makes one stone rubbish and the next stone precious art is supposed to be a subjective judgment, inherent in the story of the viewer, not in the stone itself.
But in the case of Pompeii, the Bourbons and Victorians could not mistake what they had found. The origins of our entire scope of Western beauty are on display at the Naples Archeological Museum.
No matter your taste in art, you are held breathless, room after room. This is a tiny sample – and I spare you here the many more famous works that you have already seen reproduced, such as the Alexander the Great Mural, Pan and the Goat, and all that penis art.
In Toulouse we have a bevy of museums packed with colonial Roman artifacts, so I had wanted to skip the MANN, opting to go straight to the original archeological site instead. I was sternly warned otherwise by our hostess, and I thanked her over and again.
There is nothing surviving in Toulouse that compares to the time-capsule of a rich beachside resort town in 79AD, and what is held in this museum is a must-see before touring the ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum (pictured below). It informs every stone and replica left at the site.
There is no question which of these rocks merit a roof over their heads, by universal consensus.