The Ten Books on Architecture, 7.5.1

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 7.4.5 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 7.5.2 ›››

Gwilt translation

5In the other rooms, namely, those for vernal, autumnal and summer use: in atria also, and peristylia, certain kinds of pictures were used by the ancients. Painting represents subjects which exist or may exist, such as men, houses, ships, and other things, the forms and precise figures of which are transferred to their representations. Hence those of the ancients who first used polished coats of plastering, originally imitated the variety and arrangement of inlaid marbles. Afterwards the variety was extended to the cornices, and the yellow and red frames of pannels,

Morgan translation

5For the other apartments, that is, those intended to be used in Spring, Autumn, and Summer, as well as for atriums and peristyles, the ancients required realistic pictures of real things. A picture is, in fact, a representation of a thing which really exists or which can exist: for example, a man, a house, a ship, or anything else from whose definite and actual structure copies resembling it can be taken. Consequently the ancients who introduced polished finishings began by representing different kinds of marble slabs in different positions, and then cornices and blocks of yellow ochre arranged in various ways.