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Alexander Archipenko

The Last Moment of the City of Pompeii

bronze
1925 / posthumous cast, 2007
17,3 x 33,5 x 16,5 cm / 7 1/2 x 11 3/4 in.
with signature and numbered '2/12 F' with stamp of the Modern Art Foundry and year of the cast 'MA 07' edition of 2 lifetime, 12 posthumous casts

In the year 79 AD, the prosperous sea port of Pompeii, situated only 9 km from the volcano Vesuvius, was buried under a pyroclastic flow when the volcano erupted. Over the course of time, it was forgotten that there had ever been a city. It was only 1500 years later, in the 16th century, that some objects were found by chance, the first excavations were made in the mid-eighteenth-century. From 1860 on, systematic archaeological excavations were made, which are still ongoing today. At that time, plaster was sprayed into the cavities left by the bodies of humans and animals, who had remained in the city. Thus it was possible to conserve the layout and expressions of the victims who found died within seconds during the outbreak. Only in Pompeij was it thus possible to produce casts of whole families and even their animals and convey a testimonial of the catastrophe to posterity - and a haunting memento mori. To Archipenko as a sculptor, this idea must have been fascinating and inspiring.

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