Artistic Influences & Identity

      Greek culture, especially the city-state of Corinth, greatly influenced Etruscan art. Greek art itself was going through what art historians refer to as the Orientalizing period around the same time as the Etruscans. It was in this period when Eastern influences were bringing a new direction to art; functional objects of bronze were decorated with monsters, animals, or flowers imitating Near Eastern art. Stimulated by Greek imports, Etruscan artists began to develop figural and narrative art, with sculptures and paintings showing men or gods and a distinctly more natural rendering of the human figure. One particular cinerary urn, the Reclining Youth from the early fourth century BC, is a rare bronze example of Greek influence. The stand, decorated with stylized waves complements the generalized austere human forms with realistic details. (ArtLex; UPenn; Goldscheider, 6-7; 58)

      Many art historians characterize Etruscan art as less mature than contemporary Greek art in style and execution. However, great praise is given for the originality and imagination shown by Etruscan art as they left their own individual, indelible imprint on their art. To demonstrate the more literal meaning of this statement, the bronze sculpture from second century BC, Boy Playing with a Bird, has an inscription on his arm in the Etruscan language. Ancient myths speak of the Chimera, a creature that is part lion, goat, and serpent. The most savage of beasts, it sprouted fire from its mouth and devastated the land until killed by the hero Bellerophon who flew over it riding his winged horse Pegasus. The most renowned artistic representation of this mythical creature is the classic statue known as the Chimera of Arezzo, which is also one of the most beautiful examples we have of ancient Etruscan art. Experts have been able to decode the inscription on the Chimera’s right foreleg to Tinia, the Etruscans’ chief god. (; Goldscheider, 96-97; Hamblin, 33; 101-106)

Chimera of Arezzo Inscription

Reclining Youth

Boy Playing with a Bird

Boy Playing with a Bird

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Artistic Influences & Identity ~ Language in Art ~ Conclusion: Disappearing Culture ~ Works Cited ~ About the Author

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