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'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome


An extraordinary selection of figurative wall panels and architectural moulded decorations in polychrome terracotta, coming from the territory of Cerveteri (the ancient city of Caere) and partly unpublished. The exhibition has been extended until 28 June 2020

'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Fragments of a painted panel depicting an armed man, inv. provision SYM 2017/125.
Seizure carried out by the TPC Carabinieri at the Geneva Free Port
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
These are testimonies of fundamental importance for the history of Etruscan painting, recently returned to Italy thanks to the action of the Carabinieri's illegal trafficking of archaeological finds and the cultural diplomacy of Mibac.


At the beginning of 2016 the Carabinieri of the Nucleus for the Protection of Cultural Heritage recovered in Geneva a large quantity of finds illegally stolen from Italy: together with figured vases of Magna Graecia and Roman statues, an extraordinary series of wall panels and Etruscan architectural fragments of lively polychromy, accumulated in shattered pieces in tens of boxes, were found without any coherent order.

'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Louterion base (?) with dolphin figures, inv. provision C MANG 2017/2. Deposits of the Necropolis
of the Banditaccia of Cerveteri. 6th century BC [Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Fragment of a prancing swan figure, inv. SYM 158. SABAP deposit of Pyrgi
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Fragment of prancing swan figure with meander, SABAP Deposit in Cerverteri
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Boxes containing fragments of the painted wall panels, at the time of seizure
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
Careful study and restoration work carried out by SABAP on these finds, the result of clandestine excavations and therefore devoid of contextual data, has made it possible to recognize in a large number of fragments, thanks to their technical characteristics and refined execution, Etruscan painted panels from ancient Cerveteri, known so far only from examples present in some of the most important Italian and foreign museum collections.


This fortunate recovery of the artworks was followed by the ratification of an important international cultural cooperation agreement signed between Mibac and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, which involved the return from Denmark to Italy of a further substantial series of fragments of Etruscan painted panels, similar to those found in Geneva.

'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Wall panel with figures of horsemen, inv. HIN 717. SABAP deposit of Cerveteri
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Piece of painted wall panel with figure of dancer, inv. with SYM 2017/326. Seizure made
by TPC Carabinieri at the Geneva Free Port [Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Architectural fragment with male face, inv. SYM 2017/437. From the SABAP warehouse in Pyrgi
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Terracotta antefix painted with Satyr and Maenad. Getty Museum Restitution
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
A first phase of study and research conducted on these precious materials, dated between 530 and 480 BC, culminated in an exhibition and an international conference of studies organized by SABAP at the Castello di Santa Severa (Santa Marinella, Rome) in June 2018, which is now followed by the Roman edition of the exhibition, in the prestigious headquarters of the Centrale Montemartini, in a renovated and updated layout thanks to the presentation of the latest research results.


The exhibition is divided into several themes (the exploits of Hercules and other myths; dance; athletes and warriors; contexts; architectural terracottas) and is intended to offer the public a comprehensive interpretation of the recovered Etruscan painted terracotta fragments, decontextualized by excavation and clandestine trade, with respect to the history and artistic production of ancient Caere at the height of its cultural splendour.

'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Laconian Kylix with figures of warriors. Attributed to the Hunting Painter, 550-525 BC
SABAP RM Met [Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Attic red figure krater signed by the master potter Euphronios, depicting Hercules fighting Kyknos,
inv. provision NY-SW1. Dated around 510 BC. Restored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York in 2010 [Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Attic red figure Kylix with figure of a young athlete, cat. 145144. Attributed to the painter
of Nikosthenes, 510-500 BC Returned by the Getty Museum of Los Angeles in 2006
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Attic red figure plate with Scythian warrior, inv. provision SQMED 980.
SABAP RM Met [Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
Various archaeological materials on display in the exhibition complement and deepen the themes dealt with in the various exhibition sections are also partly the result of recoveries made by the Carabinieri, partly of returns made on the basis of international agreements between Mibac and prestigious foreign museums.


These materials are joined by the valuable nucleus of Attic black and red-figure vases from the Castellani Collection of the Capitoline Museums, normally not on display to the public, and chosen for thematic analogy.

'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Attic black figure Lekythos depicting Hercules fighting the Stymphalian birds, cat. 145137.
Datable around 490 BC. Returned by the Museum of Fine Arts
in Boston in 2006 [Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Attic black figure amphora depicting Hercules fighting with the Nemean lion in the presence
of Athena. Attributed to the Conservators' Painter, 530-520 BC  
Capitoline Museums,
Castellani Collection, inv. Ca 74. 
[Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Attic red-figure amphora with a fight scene over a tripod, 480-470 BC.
Return Getty Museum [Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
'Colours of the Etruscans' at the Centrale Montemartini, Rome
Attic red figure Pelike with musical scene. Attributed to the Painter of the Louvre G238.
Datable around 470 BC 
Capitoline Museums, Castellani Collection, cat. ca. 176. [Credit: Centrale Montemartini]
The exhibition not only marks the 50th anniversary of the Centrale Montemartini, but is also intended to recognise the tireless work carried out by the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, engaged daily in its action to combat the illegal trafficking of works of art in Italy.

'Colours of the Etruscans' will run until June 28, 2020.

Source: Centrale Montemartini [trsl. TANN / December 30, 2020]

TANN

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