Early excavator of Pompeii and namer of the four Roman wall painting style categories; first to advance the hypothesis that Roman art was not dependent on Greek origins, but can be seen as a high achievement on its own. Mau trained in classical theology and received his Ph.D. in Kiel in 1863. A career in theology was halted when health reasons forced him to move Italy in 1872. He secured a position at the German Archaeological Institute in Rome studying Pompeian inscriptions under Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903). Mau's work with Pompeii led him to investigate current excavations in that city, then under the direction of Giuseppe Fiorelli (1823-1895). Fiorelli's systematic study of Pompeii formed the basis for Mau's research on Roman wall painting. In 1882 Mau published Geschichte der decorativen Wandmalerei in Pompeji. Here Mau postulated his famous four stylistic periods, a First Style (decorative), a Second and Third Style, and a Fourth Style (illusionistic and architectural, based upon theater). This characterization of Roman wall painting remains the organization used today. Mau spent his professional life as the librarian of the deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI). His archaeological knowledge of the inhabitants of Pompeii was used to write an account of their daily life in 1886 for the updated series Handbuch der römischen Alterthümer, edited by Mommsen. In 1900, Mau published Pompeji in Leben und Kunst, a projection of the city as it might have been, based upon the archaeological record of the time. The book quickly appeared in many translations and remains a major guide to the site. Together with Friedrich Matz (1890-1974) and Eugen von Mercklin they published the library catalog of the Institute. Mau's achievement was his early assertion that Roman art was not dependent on Greek origins, but rather should be seen as a high achievement on its own.
Kiel, Schleswig Holstein, Germany
Geschichte der decorativen Wandmalerei in Pompeji. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1882; Pompeji in Leben und Kunst. Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 1900, English, Pompeii: its Life and Art. New York: Macmillan, 1899; Katalog der Bibliothek des Kaiserlich deutschen Archäologischen Instituts in Rom. Rome: Löscher, 1913-1932; and Zangemeister, Karl Friedrich Wilhelm, and Schöne, Richard. Inscriptiones parietariae pompeianae, herculanenses, stabianae. Berolini: G. Reimerum, 1871 ff; Pompejanische Beiträge. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1879; Führer durch Pompeji. Naples: F. Furchheim, 1893; Das Privatleben der Römer. Volume 7 of the second edition of Marquardt, Joachim and Mommsen, Theodor. Handbuch der römischen Alterthümer. Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1886.
Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988: 78-79; Medwid, Linda M. The Makers of Classical Archaeology: A Reference Work. New York: Humanity Books, 2000 pp. 203-4; Kopf, E. C. "Mau, August." Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 2, pp. 733.