Paris, a city rich in history, welcomes an ancient civilization traditionally associated with funerary art and brings it back to life. The exhibition Etruscans, a Hymn to Life, on view at the Maillol Museum until February 9, 2014, explores the everyday life of the Etruscan people.
There are several theories about the origin of the Etruscans, but even today their true origin remains unknown. Some claim the Etruscans were indigenous to Southern Europe; others believe they came from Asia Minor, and there are those who believe that they were the result of a mixture of both theories. What is known to be a fact is that the Etruscans were skilled sailors and traders, who challenged the ancient Greeks for control of the Mediterranean before the Roman conquest of Etruria in 351 B.C.
Funerary art, closely related to Etruscan painting, sculpture and architecture, is part of the legacy left by this important Mediterranean civilization, predecessors of the Roman Republic. But beyond death, or before it, how did this people live? What constituted their daily activities? The answer to these questions could be found in the 250 works that make up the Maillol exhibit.
Etruscans, a Hymn to Life takes us in a journey through the day to day of this enigmatic people, and it addresses issues such as trade, art, architecture, sports, crafts, decoration and writing. The works, lent by prestigious Italian and European institutions, show the evolution of their habitat, from primitive huts in the 9th century BC to the magnificent mansions and refined interiors of the patricians.
This exhibition features masterpieces by artists from the school of Veyes, Tarquinia paintings, stunning Vulci stone sculptures, terracotta from the temples of Orvieto and Chiusi as well as various artistic expressions from Populonia, Perugia and Volterra.
“The Etruscans were a diverse people who knew how to mix and integrate all kinds of influences, incorporating them differently according to the locations and the times”, explains Vincent Jolivet, archaeologist and member of the scientific committee of the Maillol Museum. “The objects are difficult to decipher but are interesting. There are pieces that could be linked to Egypt. Others recall the Phoenician or Carthaginian world, and it is clear that the Greek world was also very relevant in their culture.”
Etruscans, a Hymn to Life, is a fascinating display that allows visitors to learn about the ancient world from a different perspective: Beyond the traditional funeral images associated with the Etruscans, it highlights their life, culture and customs. ■