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Gypsum statue of woman


Height: 89.000 cm

GR 1850.2-27.1 (Sculpture D1)

Room 71: Etruscan world

    Gypsum statue of woman

    Etruscan, about 570-560 BC
    Said to be from the Polledrara Tomb, Vulci, ancient Etruria (now in Lazio, Italy)

    An Etruscan painted lady

    Large-scale stone sculpture first appears in Etruria in the sixth century BC, and this is one of the finest examples to survive. The Etruscans did not have access to marble quarries as the Greeks did, and instead they made use of the local stone, which varied from region to region. Also in contrast to Greek custom, the Etruscans tended to reserve stone statues for tombs, otherwise using bronze or terracotta.

    The statue was probably influenced by Greek prototypes, particularly from Crete and the Peloponnese, but there is also Phoenician and Near Eastern influence.

    The figure is said to have been found in one of the most important tombs of the Etruscan Archaic period, the Polledrara Tomb, sometimes called the Isis Tomb. It is uncertain whether the figure represented a deity or the deceased. The object which she once held in her right hand may have been a torch associated with some kind of ritual, for there are traces of burning down the front of the figure.

    The statue is made from gypsum, a type of limestone. It was once brightly painted: her belt shows traces of gilding, and her sandals were once red. There are traces of blue and yellow on the lotus pattern border of her cloak, which she wears over a tunic. The pigments were applied using the encaustic technique.

    L. Bonfante, Etruscan dress (John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1975)

    O. Brendel, Etruscan art, Pelican History of Art (Yale University Press, 1995)

    E. Macnamara, The Etruscans-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

    M. Sprenger, G. Bartoloni, M. and A. Hirmer, The Etruscans (New York, Abrams, 1983)


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    On display: Room 71: Etruscan world

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