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Other titles in the Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum series:
Abundance of Life: Etruscan Wall Painting (Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum)by Stephan Steingraber
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"The pictures are amazing. It's too bad about the text. Not that archeologist Steingrber doesn't provide a thorough, if stodgily academic, tour of Etruscan wall painting in this large-scale art book. His smooth, jargon-free account of what he calls 'the first chapter in the history of Italian painting,' dating from the seventh to the second centuries B.C., will be accessible to anyone with a grasp of the basic outlines of ancient history. The problem is that it's so difficult to connect what Steingrber says with the pictures in the book. The images are not numbered, making it nearly impossible to track down any painting Steingrber mentions, or even to know if the painting is reproduced in the book at all. But the pictures are stunning. Masterfully photographed paintings on Etruscan tomb walls inventively depict birds, dancers, divers and scenes of the afterlife in loose, free-flowing lines. Especially gorgeous are the ones printed on heavy, textured 'Tintoretto' paper that imparts something of the painting's original stone surfaces. Full-page closeups of unexpected details — a boy gazing at a bird in his hand, the curious expressions on the faces of a three-headed serpent — bring an entire world to life and allow it to tell its own story." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Stephan Steingräber is the editor of, and a contributing author to, Catalogo regionato della pittura etrusca.
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