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Roman Gaul

Mosaîc Floor

The mosaic, over a third of which is missing, decorated the floor of a large suburban villa in Saint-Romain-en-Gal, one of the areas of Vienne in ancient times. It was one of the most beautiful and most prosperous towns in Gaul. Mosaic workshops were set up in Vienne to satisfy the demands of a wealthy clientele.

Agricultural and rural activities, and the festivals of the four seasons are depicted in 40 panels surrounded by a rich braided border. 27 of these survive, each measuring 59 cm. This theme was not generally used by mosaicists, and particularly not by the workshops of Vienne, which preferred to depict mythological scenes or still lifes. They were inspired no doubt by one or several of the Roman examples found throughout the Mediterranean region, but this mosaic could also well be regarded as a “reportage” on Gallo-Roman agricultural practices.

The images are set around four central panels depicting personifications of the seasons: Winter is a woman wrapped in a cape on a wild boar, Spring is a nude Cupid on a bull, Summer is a nude Cupid on a lion, and Autumn is a nude Cupid on a tiger.

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