The Villa of Livia and the Gardenscape Frescoes

Gardenscape, Second Style wall paintings, from the Villa of Livia, Primaporta, Italy

Second Style wall painting from the Villa of Livia, Primaporta.

Livia's Villa at Prima Porta, 15km north of Rome, is frequently described as “ad gallinas albas” (white hens). This is a reference to the story that on the day of Livia’s marriage to Augustus in 38BC, an eagle dropped a white hen with a fruited laurel twig in its beak into her lap. She kept the hen for breeding and planted a laurel grove which provided the wreaths worn in Imperial triumphs. The laurel trees appear in the background of the frescoes.

Second Style wall painting from the Villa of Livia, Primaporta Reference URL Share

in the villa, the gardenscape of Livia

Reeder, Jane Clark. The Villa of Livia Ad Gallinas Albas. Providence, RI: The Center for Old World Archaeology and Art, Brown University, 2001.

Gardenscape, Villa of Livia Primaporta, ca 25 BCE

Surrounded by a covered walkway, this interior garden space was sometimes set at the back of a house, but more often at the very center, where it provided much needed light and ventilation. Gardens frequently included small sculptures and fountains in addition to a diverse range of plant life. During the early imperial period, gardens also became popular motifs for murals painted on the walls of villa interiors.

Gardenscape, Villa of livia, Primaporta