Classical Antiquities - 600 B.C. - 500 A.D.

Etruscan Cinerary Urn with Anthropomorphic Lid



   Impressive Etruscan terracotta secondary burial box with figural lid from another, but similar cinerary urn.

   The lid bears molded figure of woman resting on her elbow upon pillows and holding a wreath on her lap, her hair covered with veil, dressed in the Chiton
   described in bold drapes.

   The urn is decorated at front with a low relief combat scene between Eteocles and Polynices, one of whom is forcing the other to his knees. Two warriors are
   also taking part in the fight. Details painted in white, green and red-orange.

   On the border, etruscan inscriptions are partly visible as is usual with cinerary urns. The name of the defunct was usually written on the urn.
   Similar Etruscan cinerarii can be found in major collections, for instance the Louvre or the British Museum (see example below).

   An old collection label paster to the interior reads: 'eteokles och polyneikes (us thebanska sagokretsen) Etruskis askurna100-talet f. kr.'.

   The urn dates from a period when Etruscan culture was becoming increasingly similar to that of the Romans: the Etruscans practised the Roman
   custom of cremation as well as their own traditional custom of inhumation.

   On this subject, the guide of the Etruscan Gregorian Museum of the Vatican explains :

   " The rite of cremation, with the resulting funerary custom of placing the ashes of the deceased in urns in sculpted stone or modelled in terra-cotta,
   is particularly documented in the interior of northern Etruria from the 4th century BC. A great quantity of cinerary urns, with particular artistic and typological
   characteristics was produced in the main Etruscan cities of this vast area (Volterra, Chiusi and Perugia). The reliefs that decorate the front of the casks are the
   result of an independent development of the Hellenistic figurative repertoire. Greek myths and, more typically, Etruscan myths co-exist, united by the adoption
   of the same figurative language, in one of the most characteristic manifestations of Etruscan artistic craftwork. The surfaces were originally characterized by
   a bright polychromy of which only a few traces remain. Ideally the deceased was portrayed on the lid of the urn, semi-recumbent in the classical position of
   a banqueter, while mythological scenes or scenes related to the afterworld were sculpted on the casket. "

   Material : Terracotta
   Provenance : Lid : Sotheby's - Urn : Old New Jersey collection
   Dimensions :Cinerarium, 8-1/2"x10"x7". Lid, 8-1/2"x14". (Max. length : 35,5 cm)
   Period : 150-100 B.C.

        Ref. : r-087


   Price : SOLD - to be informed by e-mail when a similar item becomes available.



   Museum Equivalent : Le Louvre, Dept. des Antiquités Romaines et Etrusques, for similar examples.

                                                       The British Museum : Painted terracotta cinerary urn with a man on the lid

   Bibliography : N.A.



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