Etruscan art – Italy before the Romans

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Apollo of Veii (ca. 520 BC)

Apollo of Veii (ca. 520 BC)

Etruscan art is in some ways a lot like Greek art of the same time, because the Etruscans admired the Greeks very much and imitated a lot of their art (and bought a lot of art from the Greeks as well). But there are also some interesting differences.

The Etruscans developed their ideas about art gradually out of earlier Villanovan art. We start calling it Etruscan art about the time they began to be influenced by the Greeks, about 700 BC.

One idea the Etruscans seem to have gotten from the Greeks was to make pottery with pictures on it. The Etruscans bought a lot of pottery from the Greeks, but they also made some of their own.

Etruscan sarcophagus (like a coffin) fora husband and wife (ca. 520 BC)

Etruscan sarcophagus (like a coffin) fora husband and wife (ca. 520 BC)

A little later, the Etruscans also began making big sculptures like the Greeks. But the Etruscans didn’t have access to marble the way the Greeks did, so instead of stone statues they made their statues out of clay. Etruscan statues are also more human-looking, less perfect than Greek statues, and often funnier. And they often show men and women together, which Greek statues never do.

The Etruscans also built big temples for their gods like the Greeks. But Etruscan temples didn’t look exactly like Greek temples. Etruscan temples were built up on high platforms, and they had steps only on the front, not all the way around.

Learn by doing: draw an Etruscan temple and a Greek temple
More about Greek temples

Bibliography and further reading about Etruscan art:


Vulca the Etruscan, by Roberta Angeletti (1999). Easy reading.

The Etruscans, by Don Nardo (2004). Easy reading.

Hands-On Ancient People, Volume 2: Art Activities about Minoans, Mycenaeans, Trojans, Ancient Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans, by Yvonne Merrill (2004). Easy reading.

Etruscan Art, by Nigel Spivey (1997). A college textbook.

Or check out this Etruscans articlein the Encyclopedia Britannica.

More on the Etruscans
Etruscan Architecture
Etruscan Pottery
Ancient Greek Art
Roman Art home

By |2018-04-25T08:59:08+00:00August 31st, 2017|Art, Northern Europe|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Etruscan art – Italy before the Romans. Study Guides, August 31, 2017. Web. December 17, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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