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Domus Aurea bathtub

The figure of Emperor Nero is voluntarily associated with the terms tyrant and incendiary. But it is to him that we owe the construction of an exceptional monumental complex, the Domus Aurea (or Casa Dorada). Well known to historians of Renaissance art, this house is rediscovered at the end of the 15th century, when a Roman falls into one of the rooms of the house, buried for centuries. Following it, the ruins are visited many times; then we discovered incredible decorations. Thus, the "grotesque" (it was believed that these paintings adorned the walls of the caves) became a motif widely used by painters, included in the Renaissance.

Pliny evokes it in his Natural History and contributed to the legend of this place that "embraced all of Rome". It was after the fire in Rome, in 64, that Nero built this architectural complex, which included gardens and an artificial lake. We can not really speak of a residence because it lacks essential elements, such as kitchens or latrines, but more than a ceremonial residence. After the death of Nero in the year 68, the Domus falls into oblivion before Trajan covers it with earth. Meanwhile, the Colosseum rises between 72 and 80 and the Domus goes into oblivion.

What we see is the main bathtub, that of Emperor Nero himself. By the dimensions, one can understand the luxury and magnitude of the work of Domus Aurea. The decoration is obviously very important and in the beginning, its name means Golden House: marbles, precious stones, mosaics and golden coatings adorned the walls of the building. Many of the Domus frescoes are still preserved and the records of Renaissance and 18th century artists allow us to imagine what these paintings were. On red, ocher or even black backgrounds, mythological scenes occurred.

Vatican Museums