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Etruscan and Roman
Italian Peninsula
End of bronze age (1000 BCE) – north &west occupied by northern people
central areas by various peoples, italic languages, Latin too
c. 750 BCE - Greeks established colonies in Sicily and the mainland
The Etruscans
7th, 6th cent. BCE – one people get control of most of north and central Italy, Etruria, and then down till
Wealthy farmers and metal workers – bought art made by the Greeks (originals
and had copies made); borrowed Greek architecture techniques (temples), Greek
gods and heroes
509 BCE – formation of the Roman Republic
5th cent to end of 3rd cent. BCE – gradual expansion of Rome and integration of Etruscans into Roman
culture; Romans commission and buy much art from Etruscans
Impossible to make clear distinctions between Greek, Etruscan and Roman art
Our sources (1st and 2nd cent. CE)
Vitruvius (Roman), Ten Books on Architecture, compilation of Etruscan and Roman architecture
Pliny the Elder (Roman), Naturalis Historia, encyclopedia including art
Pliny the Younger (Roman) (domestic architecture)
Ovid (Roman), Metamorphoses (Greek and Roman myths and transformations)
Virgil (Roman), Aeneid, (Greek v. Roman characters)
Pausanias (Greek), writer and traveler, descriptions of Greece
Plutarch (Greek) (art v. artist)
Political system – king-based system and a federation of a dozen cities
City plan – city divided by 2 main arteries intersecting at business center; protective walls
Domestic architecture (known from tombs) – houses around an uncovered
central courtyard (atrium) with a pool
or cistern fed by rainwater
Porta Augusta, Perugia
3rd – 2nd cent. BCE
protective walls
Arch, Vault, and Dome
Voussoirs, springing, impost, buttressing
Roundels and pilasters
influence of Greek entablature, Doric frieze (roundels + pilasters)
Based on Greek temples yet different
Etruscan Temple
Reconstruction and plan
based on archeological evidence
and descriptions by Vitruvius
Podium and staircase
Frontal orientation
Projecting roof
Roof statuary
Shape and space division
Mud brick, wood or tufa
Variations on the column orders
Reconstruction of the Elevation
of the Portonaccio Temple in Veii,
515-490 B.C.
Roman architectural orders
Tuscan order (Vitruvius)
Terra cotta sculpture from Veii,
c. 500 bce
Roof statuary (walking along roof ridgepole)
Apollo, Hercules, Diana and Mercury
Archaic smile
Head of Hermes
Apollo, c. 6’
Vigor and purposeful movement
Funerary practices
Tombs = homes for the dead
No preservation of body = cremation
Celebration of life
The cemetary at Ceverteri = small town
Underground tombs
corbel vaulting, tufa
Burial chamber, tomb of the Triclinium, Tarquinia, 480-470 BCE
Tomb of the Lionesses
Tarquinia, 5th bce
Tomb of Hunting & Fishing
Excavated from rock
Plastered, painted walls
Tomb of the Reliefs,
Ceverteri, 3rd bce
Stone and stucco furniture
terra cotta sculpture
reclining on a triclinium
archaic smile
Sarcophagus from Cerveteri, 520 BCE, 6’7”
Sarcophagus from Ceverteri,
terra cotta , 6’7” long, 520 bce
Etruscan sarcophagi
Cinerary urns, terra-cotta
c. 600 and 400 BCE
2nd cent. BCE
Terra cotta portrait heads
masters of the art of bronze sculpture
Bronze Portrait Heads c. 300 bce
Vitruvius and Pliny the Elder write about how valued these statues were in Italy and Beyond
Bronze and painted ivory, 12” h.
Brutus (founder and first consul
of the first Roman republic)?
Head of young Man, Cervereri, 3rd Cent BCE
Etruscan She-Wolf , c. 500 BCE
bronze, glass paste, 33”
Naturalism and stylization
Chimera, bronze, 5th – 4th cent. BCE
"a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind,
a goat in the middle, and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire“
Homer, The Illiad.