The History of Etruscan Art

A common misconception is that the incredible success of the Greeks was immediately followed by that of the Romans, instead the Etruscans served as an important intermediary society between the two. The first step of the evolution of Etruscan art is what they borrowed from the Greeks, and this lies primarily in architecture. The Etruscans borrowed the simple, shoe-box shape of the Greek temple as well as the structural aspects of an inner cella and outer columns. While the Etruscans did integrate certain aspects of their own innovative style into these temples, they would never have existed had it not been for Greek influence.

As the Etruscans evolved they began to create art that was wholly their own. One example of an Etruscan art innovation is in their creation of cistae. These were large bronze drums that the Etruscans used as funerary vessels. Etched scenes commonly adorned the sides and a votive figure was frequently used as the handle on these works.

One such artwork, the Ficoroni Cista was made by parents for their late teenage daughter and the Etruscans showed their ability to create new concepts in their portrayal of a man’s back. Until this point etchings had consistently been highly frontal depictions of the human form.

Lastly, the final stage of Etruscan evolution is in the influence they held over Roman art. Portraiture is often viewed wholly as a Roman innovation and most exemplifies the essence of Roman art, yet the Romans derived their idea of portraiture from the Etruscans.

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Jackson spoke on how Roman portraiture developed from the Etruscans in saying, “Both are intensely expressive… approaching its construction as a series of separate and individual features which are applied singularly to constitute a portrait.” The Etruscans bestowed onto the Romans a love of depicting what a person truly looked like, thus initiating the era of veristic portraiture.

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The History of Etruscan Art. (2023, Mar 15). Retrieved from

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