Make your own free website on Tripod.com

THE ETRUSCAN PORTRAIT

By the middle of the 1st Millennium BCE, the Etruscans were the most advanced peoples of central and northern Italy. They appeared in this territory at the beginning of 1st millenium. The question on their origin up to now remains unsolved, although possibly they came from the east, from Asia Minor. By the VI century BC, they formed the union of twelve cities and have increased in strength so that they dominated neighboring tribes, including (for a short time) Rome; the last Roman kings were Etruscan. But also after their exile, when the Republic of Rome began to carry out agressive policy, gradually conquering tribes of central Italy, Etruria and Campania maintained its position in cultural influence. Ancient sources inform us that the most ancient works of art of Rome, such as well-known Lupa Capitolina, were created by Etruscan sculptors, and the first Roman temples were constructed by Etruscan architects. At the end of the VI century BCE. In Rome other Etruscan sculptors were active. The sculptor Vulca, made a statue of Jupiter for the Capitoline temple and Etruscan art reached its peak in the VI-III centuries BC. Even after the conquest of Etruria in the third century BC, Rome maintained its cultural and artistic prevalence over all territory of the central Italy. The decline of Etruscan art began in the 2nd century BC, and only in the first century BC it completely lost specific features, being absorbed by the art of Rome. But up to this time Etruscan creativity defined the art of ancient Italy, and the Italic sculptural portrait down to the II century BC was in essence, an Etruscan portrait.


MASK FROM Chiusi
Bronze. 1-я a floor. VII Century BC


URN FROM Chiusi
Clay. Ок. 600 BC

URN FROM Chiusi
Clay. 2-я четв. VI Century BC

COVER canopic FROM Chiusi
Clay. Нач. VI Century BC

The question of the origins of the Etruscan sculptural portrait is closely connected to ancient Etruscan religious views. The religion of this mysterious people of ancient Italy, as well as their origin, a history and culture as a whole, still more not enough. That in religion Etruscan the cult of the dead played an extremely big role, as the magnificent tombs supplied with rich funeral gifts testify. The main point in a cult of the dead, undoubtedly, was concerned with the idea of the preservation of the physical body, perhaps to ensure immortality (by analogy to the religion of Ancient Egypt). In Etruria already from the earliest times, Cinerary Urns - urns holding the ashes of the deceased, were engraved with the image of a human face. Many similar urns are found in a necropolis of one of the large centres of Etruria - Chiusi. The most ancient urns from Chiusi take the form of a vessel closed by a round cover. These were made of bronze or clay. Already in 8th - 7th centuries BC, Covers were decorated with masks, depicting a roughly drawn human face. Few such bronze masks have survived - an example of them is the mask from Chiusi (first half of the 7th century BC). Bronze masks were attached to urns with the help of specially fixtures. Clay urns simulated this custom: so, the cover of a urn from Chiusi, dated around 600 years BC, is decorated with a relief clay mask. Urns with masks did not exist for long, by the 7th century, canopic urns replaced them, which were made in the form of a human head. Handles of a vessel quite often take the form of hands. The main attention is given to the person. These heads cannot give up in the big expressiveness, despite of laconism and обобщенность images. It is typical, that at overwhelming majority of clay heads of VI century BC. It is underlined alive persons looking by widely open eyes, as, for example, on a urn from Четоны, stored(kept) in the Archeologic museum in Florence. Only once, on a urn of second half VII century BC from Солайи, we see really dead person, with densely close eyes. Usually the big eyes with the cut out pupils recover these strong, округлые or the angular heads directly sitting on neck slightly extending from top to bottom. Large, rude features, the big nose, densely compressed mouth with narrow lips are well combined with the rigid hair transferred(handed) by direct lines, drawn in clay. Good samples of such heads are a cover canopic from Chiusi the beginnings of VI century up to н. э. Or a cover of same time in the State Hermitage. Heads каноп are similar against each other and give representation about strong, constrained and severe founders of these images. They, certainly, can not be considered as portraits in our sense of a word, but in them there is an obvious aspiration to concreteness of the image and full absence of idealization.
Since VI century up to н. э. In Etruria stone both terracotta sarcophagi and urns - пеплохранилища on which covers are represented reclining deceased are widely distributed. One of the earliest is the sarcophagus of a married couple from Cerveteri(Rome, Villa Giulia): it is dated second half VI centuries BC. The sposi are represented reclining in a pose feasting on a cover of a sarcophagus - a plot widely distributed in Etruscan art. Undoubtedly, on this sculpture rendered the big influence the Greek archaic art. But Etruscan sculptures differ more free both alive gestures and poses. Heads and persons reclining on beds a married couple are executed much more carefully, than their bodies. Interest to a human face, characteristic for Etruscan arts which in result results in creation of a portrait is planned.
In the beginning of IV century BC alongside with idealized, created under influence of the Greek art by products in a funeral sculpture Etruscan there are individualized images died. As an example the sarcophagus from Chiusi can serve; on its cover it is submitted feasting in an environment of geniuses of death died with the characteristic lengthened person, close planted(put) eyes and sharp details on the sides of a mouth.
However Etruscan a sculptural portrait numerous funeral monuments are interesting to a problem of development less, than few samples which have reached us of a monumental sculpture.

One of the first Etruscan sculptural portraits - a bronze head of the boy (Florence, the Archeologic museum). Perfection of it is the proof of existence of any earlier not kept monuments. In the correct person of the boy with widely open eyes quietly looking afar, emphasised features, reflecting influence of the Greek art of the archaic period are strong. But transfer of the hair, falling long locks on a forehead, cubic construction of a head - only local, этрусские the features which are going back to heads ancient каноп. In asymmetric position of eyes and ears, in easy curvature of a mouth is appreciable to transfer aspiration individual fig. In this fine product Etruscan arts there is no протокольно an exact transfer of details, but the original combination of children's naivety and early gravity is transferred(handed) very convincingly. In view of affinity to art of late classics and by analogy to others Etruscan the head of the boy should be dated products, obviously, the end IV - the beginning of III century BC

The masterpiece Etruscan a portrait - the so-called Brutus head which is taking place in a palazzio dei Conservatives in Rome little bit later is created 1. The majority of researchers counts its(her) product Etruscan the sculptor. Whom exactly she(it) represents - whether really the senior Brutus, first consul of the Roman republic as tried to assert(approve) on the basis of some similarity of a head to his(its) images on coins of second half I of century BC, or other republican figure, or, perhaps, Etruscan or the Roman city council, - eventually, insignificantly. Undoubtedly, it is the portrait of the uncommon person executed with the big art force. Were kept inlaid of plates of an ivory and a dark stone of the eye, informing to the person surprising vivacity. The head with skintight rather short locks of hair slightly is inclined forward. Severely look from under hanging eyebrowes of an eye. The thin person cut by deep wrinkles, belongs to the person, living hard life, but not got used to recede before difficulties.

The Treatment of person "Брута" is individual, but the sculptor aspires to the greater: here for the first time in италийском a portrait attempt to transfer character of the person is made. Close communication(connection) "Брута" with the Greek portraits раннеэллинистического time, such, as portrait Демосфена of work Полиевкта dated by time about 280 years BC is doubtless. From Etruscan arts in head "Брута" elements of concreteness, individuality. Among few masterpieces kept till now раннеиталийского a portrait it, perhaps, unique on force of expressiveness - any another does not reach(achieve) such height of execution(performance).

The Bronze man's head from Bovianum Vetis in Camnice, stored(kept) in National library in Paris, represents the person of average years with rude, but vigorous features, perhaps, the commander of time of the first Punic war. In it(her) the aspiration to transfer of individual shape of the person - a wide nose, small eyes, a fleshy bottom part of the person on which points designate a shaved beard is appreciable. The execution of the hair and eyebrowes is close to execution of the 'Brutus' portrait; obviously, only a few(little) later time is necessary to date this head.
The Same tendencies are shown and in a bronze head of the young man from Fiesole (Livy, II Century BC). On the construction it resembles a head of the boy from Florence, but a low forehead, the big mouth, a massive chin inform it(her) the certain individual character, depriving with the elements of idealization present in the Florentine head.
In connection with process of formation of art of a portrait it is necessary to mention IV centuries extending from the end BC вотивные the heads made of clay. They farly from being are so perfect, as the portraits executed in bronze. Оттиснутые in the form, they were serial works, but details were studied by hand, that allowed to give to them individual character. The head of the young man from Лациума in Munich, the end of III century BC, is good such sample of products. It(she) cannot give up in the big expressiveness: undoubtedly, widely placed plastically executed eyes and softly modelled hardly an asymmetric mouth are individual.

A Lot of images died on stone both terracotta sarcophagi and urns IV-II of centuries BC also shows growth of elements of a concrete definition and an individualization of external shape of people. These images differ a surprising variety at preservation traditional, established in VI century BC pose reclining on ложе. In one, as, for example, in a figure feasting этруска on a cover of a funeral urn in museum Chiusi, the complacent calmness is transferred(handed) to others - grief and melancholy of farewell to life, only physical suffering. They are not similar against each other and create the whole gallery of the types distinguished by the big concreteness of details, aspiration to represent the most typical features; allocation of these features passes eventually in a rude - derisive caricature. The vivid example of her(it) is a known sarcophagus of beginning I of century BC from Вольтерры which sculptures seem a malicious parody to noble products Etruscan arts VI-V of centuries BC. Huge heads of spouses reclining on a wedge crown is disproportionate the small, poorly dismembered bodies. It is underlined their vulgar persons are ugly. This sarcophagus concerns to time of loss by Etruria independence. It(he) is the certificate of how the last этрусские artists have apprehended requirements of the Roman art.

On a boundary II and I centuries up to product, with the identical right considered and Etruscan and Roman, finishing a number(line) этрусских portraits and opening a new number(line) - portraits Roman AD was created. The question is a well-known statue of the Orator - Arringatore, - found in Trasimene lake in 1566 and Florence stored(kept) in the Archeologic museum. On кайме clothes the inscription informing, that a statue воздвигнута in honour Авла Метелла was kept этрусская. Obviously, it этрусская a sculpture representing Roman or Etruscan of the city council in usual for the official to a pose of the orator. Calling the students to attention, it(he) stretches forward the right hand - gesture which becomes traditional and will be repeatedly repeated in the Roman products. Breed and length of a toga, characteristic for early time, confirm dating this monument about 100 years BC. The person is especially interesting; loss of inlaid eyes has deprived with his(its) known share of expressiveness. Nevertheless this portrait image of the concrete person, not so significant, ugly. The head slightly is raised, it(he) as though has prepared to begin the speech. Округлое the person with full cheeks is cut by wrinkles; deep складки залегли on the parties(sides) of a nose, irregular-shaped the mouth slightly is slightly opened. Carelessly draped over a shoulder the toga which is falling down loosely, depicts his(its) begun(started) to grow stout a figure. In it(her) also there is nothing solemn, stately. In this sculpture there are no elements of idealization of the image peculiar to the Greek portrait. Prosaic accuracy of reproduction of a nature - prominent feature раннеримского a portrait - is shown here for the first time with such frankness and clearness.
At other peoples, населявших Italy in 1st millenium BC, sculptural portrait has not received so high development, as at Etruscan. However and in such low quality products, as a head from Palestrina (II Century BC) works of the local master, stored(kept) in museum Palestrina, are appreciable tendencies to transfer of individual features of the represented person, absence of idealization.

Thus, in territory of ancient Italy to I to century BC were created, first of all Etruscanи masters, bases of the further development of the sculptural portrait which has been carried out by already Roman sculptors. Certainly, the Roman portrait cannot be counted direct continuation Etruscan is the qualitatively new phenomenon, a new stage in development of an antique portrait. But traditions Etruscan arts appeared a basis on which art of Rome has grown.

N.N.Britova, N.M.Loseva, N.A.Sidorova - the ROMAN SCULPTURAL PORTRAIT. М., "Art", 1975


NOTES:

1. The head is known since 1564. The bust is work XVI Century
The most widespread, though and not standard date of portrait "Брута" - first half III Century BC. This date proves to be true the following reason - in III Century, as informs Варрон, in Rome the custom distributed to shave beards, and after middle of this century we any more do not meet, with rare exception, images of bearded people.    Back