Posts Tagged With: capitoline

Etruscan Art and Architecture

web_DrawingEtruscanTempleEtruscan artwork and architecture exists in plenty in some areas and in others it’s only been recorded and described by others. From the foundations that remain and the writings of Vitruvius, we have some idea of what a typical Etruscan temple looked like. Located at the center of an orthogonal planned city, Etruscan’s constructed temples from the resources available, in this case mud brick and a volcanic stone called tufa. The square structure was raised on a podium, with equal space being designated for a covered porch and the interior rooms or cellas. Wooden columns in the Tuscan order were positioned at the front and the temple was accessible by a single staircase.

04apollodescIn place of the elaborate entablatures Greek Temples were famous for, terra-cotta statues lined the tiled roof, like this statue of Apollo dating from 510-500 BCE. Originally part of a group, the life-size Apollo includes a lively amount of motion and the “archaic smile” that is similar but somewhat more advanced than the Greek kouroi. As far as the chronology and progression of art history, the Etruscan’s present a more naturalized depiction of the human form even if the proportion inaccuracies would have had the Greeks in an uproar. The hint of motion and the visible spark of life is characteristic of Etruscan sculpture.

300px-Banditaccia_Sarcofago_Degli_SposiCounter intuitive though it may seem, tombs are also an important window into Etruscan culture. At Cerveteri, the cemetery is laid out like a small town and the tombs themselves like houses of the dead. Inside the “Tomb of the Reliefs” you can see it was set up to closely resemble a house. The walls are painted and couches were carved from stone. There are everyday household items carved into the walls. The most well known sarcophagus from Cerveteri is the “Sarcophagus of the Spouses” from 520 BCE. Now located in the Museo Nazionale Etrusco in Rome, the terra-cotta sarcophagus shows a husband and wife reclining together on a couch. Again the Etruscans favor depiction of humans with archaic smiles and the appearance of expressions, rather than the classical straight face. Details from their hair and clothes leave use with some idea of contemporary culture.

697px-Chimera_d'arezzo,_fi,_03Bronze sculptures encompass some of the finest pieces we have from the Etruscans. Their skill with bronze made the products marketable around the Mediterranean and the pieces they kept at home are of amazing quality. While their Greek counterparts were concerned with idealized perfection, Etruscan artists seem at ease with inaccuracies and care more about the emotion they seek to communicate in their artwork. That emotion comes through clearly in the bronzes we have in a variety of styles. The bronze Chimera of Arezzo is one example of Etruscan bronze work. The mythical chimera was part lion, goat and serpent, a deadly fire breathing creature that was a popular subject in early Italian art. This depiction, however, shows the typical Etruscan flair for life and movement in their sculptures. The Chimera of Arezzo is now kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Florence.

brutus_exhibition_pageTwo pieces that visitors to Rome are likely to come across is a bronze bust known as the “Capitoline Brutus” and a bronze She-wolf known as the “Capitoline Wolf.” It’s not surprising that these pieces are both found in the Capitoline Museum. The bust is believed to be a portrait of the famous hero Lucius Junius Brutus, the early republican character from the Rape of Lucretia. Despite the bust being from the mid-3rd century BCE, the strong verism in the features make it easy to believe that this is indeed the face of Roman legends. The eyes are made of painted ivory. The Capitoline Brutus is one of the oldest surviving portraits from antiquity, it’s existence is made even more remarkable because bronze was often melted down.

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The Capitoline Museum

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The  Capitoline Museum – Musei Capitolini – is a museum of the city of Rome itself. It dates back to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a series of sculptures that had previously been kept in the Lateran. The return of some of Rome’s history to the City’s symbolic center created a feel of revival that matched the current Renaissance. More notable works were added to the Museum’s collection when Pope Pius V decided to rid the Vatican of “pagan” images.

The Capitoline Museum is housed in two main buildings: the Palazzo dei Conservatori, and the Palazzo Nuovo. These buildings combine with the Palazzo Senatorio to form Michelangelo’s architectural plan for the square. The museum entrance is through the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which is home to sculptures like the Capitoline Wolf and the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius. The Pinacoteca on the second floor is the art gallery, with works by Titian, Tintoretto, Van Dyck, Rubens and Caravaggio.

The Conservatori is linked to Palazzo Nuovo by a tunnel through the Tabularium. From the exterior, this building is identical to Palazzo dei Conservatori. Inside, this building also houses many powerhouse sculptures, such as the 3rd century BC works known as the Dying Gaul and the Capitoline Venus.

If you plan to visit, the museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00am until 8:00pm, except for December 25, January 1, and May 1. The late closing makes this an ideal stop for a late afternoon visit. Tickets can be bought online, or at the museum entrance on the Campidoglio.

For more information, visit the Museum’s webpage Here.

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The She-Wolf

The She-wolf has become a famous character in Roman history and a vital part of their heritage. According to the legend, the twins Romulus and Remus were said to have been found on the banks of the Tiber by the She-Wolf and cared for until they were found by the shepherd. The most famous depiction is the Capitoline Wolf, pictured above, a bronze Etruscan style sculpture. The infant portrayals of Romulus and Remus are thought to have been added later.

The Italian football team A.S. Roma includes the Wolf on their emblem.

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