Mosaic   1
                               Trident, curve, and volute
watercolor   9" x 10"
José Grave de Peralta
Toroazul Painting and Fine Arts
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             Two Roman fishes kissing, and volute
watercolor   9"  x   10"
The Baths of Caracalla in Rome are formidable structures of brick and concrete,
dedicated to house a grand complex of baths and pools for Roman citizens, from
around 200 A.D.  The site provides a majestic backdrop in summer for some of the
best operas and musical recitals in the City.  It took 3 -- unbelievable! -- years for
me to visit this place and be swept away by its palatial dimensions and "genius of
place."  I owe my first visit there to friend and colleague artist Rocco Ceo, from the
University of Miami/School of Architecture. After taking his drawing students there
a week ago this school semester (Fall 2011), he raved about the place, and rightly
so, as a terrific location for sketching.
                        Winged love riding seahorse
watercolor   9"  x  10"
When I ventured out there with my friend, carrying my own watercolor set, stool,
and some lunch gear, although I was truly left speechless by the gigantic walls, the
swimming pool or "natatio," and the overall spirit of this great bath complex, it
was the many rather small fragments of floor mosaics that impressed me most,
some positioned like pictures at an exhibition against the huge walls of the thermal

The mosaic fragments reminded me of a scene from Virgil's AENEID, to which I had
recently read a reference in Jorge Luis Borges' essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne --
where Borges insisted on the power of images, and used the example of hero Aeneas'
coming upon a series of spectacular wall paintings on his way to Italy from Troy --
after the legendary war.

In the Aeneid, when he arrives in the great African port of Carthage -- Aeneas
inexplicably finds painted on the walls of  the palace of Queen Dido, with whom he
quickly falls in love, the entire story of the War and the subsequent destruction of
his home city.

The uncanny thing about this scene in the Aeneid is that those images could not all  
have been painted so quickly .... It was as if Dido had been waiting for him from all
time, and had commissioned  paintings for her palace that contained the story of
her future lover's life and country -- before she ever met him!

The series of very small mosaic fragment studies in watercolor on this page were
my way of expressing what I felt when I walked through the Baths of Caracalla ---
thinking of how Aeneas finds those beautiful images of his city painted in the stone
walls of Carthage---where he in fact falls in love with the famous Dido.

Part of what makes that scene so powerful in the Aeneid is that the hero realizes he
must soon leave Carthage and thus abandon Dido, with whom he has formed a
strong romantic connection.
(Queen Dido will take her life when she sees him sail off to Italy, the land somehow
destined by Venus and the other gods to be founded by Aeneas! As he is sailing
away from Carthage, he turns back and sees her funeral pyre in the distance!)
watercolor   9"  x   10"
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