by Richard Daniel De Puma
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (June, 2013)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of some one thousand works of Etruscan and Italic art is formidable in both quality and scope. For the first time in seventy years, it is treated in this generously- illustrated new publication.
The book opens with short histories of Etruscan studies and of the Museum's collection. A synopsis of pre-Roman Italy relates aspects of the culture of ancient Etruria and the beliefs and lifestyle of its fascinating inhabitants. This background information sets the tone for the chapters that follow in basic chronological order, each with a varied mix of essays (on religion, language, etc.) and discussions about tomb groups, types of objects, techniques, and individual works. The earliest pieces date from about 900 B.C. and include bronze jewelry and terracotta vessels. The latest are from the Etrusco-Hellenistic Period, ca. 330-100 B.C. A separate chapter is devoted to the Museum's extraordinary collection of gold jewelry, ambers, and intricately carved gems. In the last chapter, the intriquing topic of forgeries, pastiches, and objects of uncertain authenticity is addressed. There is an extensive bibliography, concordance and index.
Among the many highlights is the tomb group from Monteleone di Spoleto, featuring an impressive bronze chariot, the best preserved of its kind. There is an extensive collection of bucchero pottery that includes a small bucchero vase inscribed with the Etruscan alphabet. There are also some two dozen Etruscan mirrors, most engraved with wonderful mythological scenes. Complex and engaging figural handles, bronze and gold fibulae, painted pottery, and several stone, bronze and terracotta sculptures and cinerary urns are all carefully described. Such remarkable and diverse objects are presented in accessible prose that also offers the latest scholarship in a field where new discoveries continue to further our knowledge of the art and culture of pre-Roman Italy.
352 pages, 500 color illustrations, 3 maps, 26 drawings, 12 vintage photographs.