Since ancient Greek monumental painting has virtually disappeared, Etruscan wall paintings offer the most important examples of pre-Roman painting in the West. Only the frescoes of Pompeii are comparable in quantity, and as at Pompeii, Etruscan paintings can still be found in their original locations, in the house-shaped tombs of the rich at a ...
Since ancient Greek monumental painting has virtually disappeared, Etruscan wall paintings offer the most important examples of pre-Roman painting in the West. Only the frescoes of Pompeii are comparable in quantity, and as at Pompeii, Etruscan paintings can still be found in their original locations, in the house-shaped tombs of the rich at a handful of sites in what is now northern and central Italy. A companion title to Domus: Wall Painting in the Roman House, this book traces the stylistic and iconographic evolution of Etruscan wall paintings over the span of five hundred years and analyzes what they reveal about Etruscan daily life, religion, and funerary rites. The earliest paintings, with their colorful scenes of banquets, hunts, and athletic games, gave way, in the later tombs, to scenes that are darker in both color and content. Here Etruscan demons escort the dead on their perilous journey to Hades, while complex genealogies and magisterial insignia signify the assertion of political and social status. The striking paintings in these "underground museums," beautifully reproduced on special paper that evokes the texture of the ancient walls, make it clear why the Etruscans have excited the imaginations of scholars and poets for centuries.
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