This scene is set in the baths at Pompeii. In the foreground one woman playfully splashes another bathing in the ‘frigidarium’, a cold bath. The artist based this work on photographs of the ruins of the Stabian baths, revealed by archaeologists in 1824. He has made them more luxurious by adding a marble floor and walls which would more usually have been found in larger imperial baths. This small work attracted enormous success when it was exhibited and bought immediately for the nation.
Gallery label, February 2016
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