mercoledì 24 aprile 2013

The Sculptural Cycle of the tomb of Pietrera from Vetulonia (Grosseto).

In 1892, Isidoro Falchi found some statues inside the tomb of the Pietrera. As they date back to the second half of the seventh century B.C, they constitute one of the first examples of monumental sculpture known in Etruria.

The specimens found, about twenty or so, are only fragments: the figures which have been best preserved are a female head and bust with her arms folded across her chest, and are now part of the collection of the Museo Archeologico (Archaeological Museum) of Florence.

In spite of their fragmentary state, we can affirm that these sculptures in sandstone, almost life-sized, depict eight standing characters, men and women represented with costly clothing and with their arms folded across their chests in the customary ritual of mourning, to immortalize the ritual of the funerary mourning around the tomb.

The rudimentary treatment of the posterior part of the statues leads us to believe that they were backed by a wall and therefore designed to be viewed only from the front: they cannot, therefore, be defined as free-standing statues.

The rigidity of the moulding is contrasted by a chiselled working of the details: locks of hair which fall in curls, necklaces, a belt in relief which displays a decoration with two winged animals. This attention to detail reveals an influence of the minor arts: the statues testify the habit of repeating oriental models in the minor arts, already found on ivories and ceramics from the seventh century B.C.

Due to a clandestine ransacking operation preceding their discovery, we cannot say with certainty where and how the statues were originally placed. Their arrangement can, therefore, only be hypothesised as inside the funerary tomb, along the entrance corridor.

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