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Florence Archaeological Museum, or ‘Museo archeologico nazionale di Firenze’, offers a diverse collection of antiquities. The most impressive and comprehensive collection is probably the archaeological museum’s exhibit of Etruscan art, which includes the world famous Chimera of Arezzo statue which dates to 400 BC.
History of Florence Archaeological Museum
Upon its inauguration in 1870, the museum was located in the buildings of the Cenacolo di Fuligno – ‘The Last Supper of Fuligno’ – in the former convent of Sant’Onofrio, or the Nuns of Foligno. At that time, it was only made up of Roman and Etruscan remains.
The collection grew, and from 1880 the museum was transferred into its present building at Palazzo della Crocetta, which is a palace that was built in 1620 for princess Maria Maddalena de’ Medici.
The first staple collections were the family collections of the Medici and Lorraine. During the first half of the 18th century, the Egyptian collection was formed, and in 1887 a new museum about the Etruscans was added, though it was unfortunately destroyed by floods in 1966.
Florence Archaeological Museum Today
Today, the museum is one of the oldest in Italy, and documents the history of Florence since it was first founded in 59 AD. Its collection of artefacts and art are responsible for the European phenomenon of birthing museums as state institutions which document and inform the past and future of the nation.
It holds a number of important remains, such as the ‘Chimera’, a votive bronze statue found in 1553. There are also statues of Arringatore and Minerva, as well as terracotta and travertine urns from Volterra, and Greek ceramic vases with black figures.
Florence Archaeological Museum also exhibits artefacts from Ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek times. Its ancient Egyptian collection is of particular importance is said to be the most significant in Italy after Museo Egizio in Turin.
Among its over 14,000 artefacts are a number of remarkable items, such as stele, mummies, ushabti, amulets, and bronze statuettes.
The baroque Villa Corsini a Castello near Florence forms a separate section of the museum, displaying predominantly Ancient Roman and Etruscan sculptures.
Located on the stunning Piazza Santisima Annunziata, the museum is only a small distance from a number of famous and picturesque attractions. These include Florence Cathedral, the Neptune fountain, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Uffizi Gallery.
Getting to Florence Archaeological Museum
From the centre of Florence, the museum is a 15 minute walk via Via dei Servi and Via del Proconsolo. By car, it takes longer – 23 minutes – via the SS67 road, and there are also a number of connecting bus services that take around 30 minutes and depart every 10 minutes or so.
Like many other Florentine museums, the Archaeological Museum stems from the collections of the Medici and Lorraine families that were initally exhibited along with other treasures in the Uffizi Gallery and moved to the Palazzo della Crocetta, the present day seat of the Museum, in 1888 (the building was erected in 1620 by Giulio Parigi). The main core of the collection focuses on Etruscan civilisation that interested in particular Cosimo the Eldest of the Medici family. But it "was the Grand Duke Cosimo I who to put together the currently existing collections in 16th century, though these were later increased by his successors (and in particular by Cardinal Leopoldo). Over time the collection was enriched with famous -works like the Chimera ofArezzo, the Minerva of Arezzo and the Orator. The collection was then continued by the Lorraine family that added the extraordinary collection of Egyptian pieces, besides adding new pieces to the Etruscan section, which was organised by series and studied by the scholars of the Lorraine court. Additions continued also during the 19th century with important works like the Sarcophagus of the Amazons and the Larthia Seianti. It -was at this time that a new section of Etruscan topography was created and that the Etruscan sculptures and small and large bronzes were added. In addition to the above-mentioned works, it is worth setting some time aside to visit the section dedicated to the lavish assortment of Etruscan jewels.
The Egyptian Museum, which is second only to the famous museum in Turin, takes up some of the rooms of the Archaeological Museum. The first group of Egyptian antiquities was put together m the 17th century to include also pieces that had been collected by the Medici, although it was significantly increased during the 18th century by Leopoldo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who purchased new collections and financed, together with Charles X, King of France, a scientific expedition to Egypt in the years between 1828 and 1829. The expedition was directed by Jean Francois Champollion, the famous scholar and interpreter of hieroglyphics and by Ippolito Rosellini from Pisa, who -would soon become the father of Egyptian studies in Italy and a friend and disciple of Champollion. After the return of the expedition, the numerous objects collected during the expedition and during excavations of archaeological sites or purchased by local merchants, were equally divided between Florence and the Louvre. The Egyptian Museum of Florence was officially established in 1855. In 1880 the Piedmontese Egyptian scholar Ernesto Schiaparelli, who was to become the director of the Egyptian Museum of Turin, was assigned the task of transferring and organising the Egyptian antiquities in the present day location, which is also the seat of the Archaeological Museum. Schiaparelli suitably increased the collections of the Museum with objects found during his personal excavation campaigns and purchased in Egypt before his final transfer to Turin. The last group of works acquired by the Egyptian Museum of Florence includes pieces donated to the State by private contributors and scientific institutions. Today the Museum exhibits over 14,000 pieces, displayed in nine rooms and two warehouses. The exhibition rooms have been totally renewed. The old layout of Schiaparelh has now been replaced by a new one arranged, when possible, according to a chronological and topographic order. The collection comprises material that ranges from the prehistoric age down to the Age of Copta, with several groups of steles, vases, amulets and bronze pieces of different ages. The most remarkable pieces are some statues dating back to the age of Amenofi III, the chariot of the 18th dynasty, the pillar of the tomb of Sety I, the cup of Fayence with square mouth and the belongings of the wet nurse of the daughter of Pharaoh Taharqa, the woman portrait of Fayum, the collection of fabrics belonging to the Copt Age and an important group of chalk moulds dating of the end of the 19th century .. from Museums and Galleries of Florence and surroundings ( Apt - Florence )
Archaeological Museum . More information .. Archaeological Museum
Florence Archaeological Museum - History
The so-called Carta della Catena
Florence in the 15th century
The museum, located since 1956 in the former convent of the Oblate Sisters, exhibits plans, paintings, etchings or prints that document the history and the appearance of Florence from its origins down to the period in which the town became capital of Italy. One of the most important and extraordinary documents is the so-called "della catena" plan, a perfect l9th reproduction of the late 15th century original preserved in the Friedrich Museum of Berlin. The other sections exhibit oil and tempera paintings representing historical events and typical scenes of the eighteenth and ninetecnth centuries.
It is worth stopping to take a close look at the large lunettes by Giusto Utens (1599), dedicated to the main Medici villas, and at the very famous collection of etchings by Giuseppe Zocchi (1744), dedicated to Florentine churches, palaces and villas. Also worth a visit are the etchings by Telemaco Signorini (1835-1901).
A section of the museum is reserved to the works of Giuseppe Poggi (1811-1901), the Florentine architect and town planner, and to his drawings and projects for the enlargement and transformation of the town after 1865.
In 1299 the Florentines decided to build a palace to house the government organizations of the republic, in addition it should have been a building representative of the power of the republic and the people. Arnolfo di Cambio, the architect of the Duomo of Florence and the church of Santa Croce began this construction on the ruins of the Palazzo dei Fanti and the Palazzo dell'Esecutore di Giustizia in Piazza della Signoria. As it happened with the great constructions of that time, several generations were needed to complete the work, suffering modifications and extensions.
Cosimo I de Medici ordered a restructuring and decoration of the building during the 16th century to turned into his residence. Thus, it acquires its present appearance and becomes the Ducal Palace. Later, Cosimo I de Medici moved his residence to the Pitti Palace and Palazzo Ducale was named Palazzo Vecchio, becoming the government offices and the place where valuables were kept.
Cosimo I ordered the construction of a corridor that connected the Pitti Palace with the administration offices, currently the Uffizi Gallery, and the Palazzo Vecchio to be able to move from one place to another with more comfort and privacy. This corridor was called the Vasari Corridor.
What is Palazzo Vecchio nowadays?
During its long history the palace has been called in different ways, its original name was Palazzo della Signoria that was replaced by Palazzo Vecchio when the court of the Medici moved to the Pitti Palace. At the moment Palazzo Vecchio is home to the Museo dei Ragazzi and here we also find the offices of the Town Hall and the Cinquecento Hall which currently retains its original use, here are held special audiences and events.
Curiosities of Palazzo Vecchio
Did you know that Palazzo Vecchio is located in Piazza della Signoria (Signoria Square) which is the most important square in Florence? This wonderful square is located between the Piazza del Duomo and the Arno River. Palazzo Vecchio is the most characteristic building of the square, in its entrance we can appreciate the sculptures of Adam and Eve, the copy of Michelangelo's David and Hercules and Cacus. Also part of this place are the Loggia dei Lanzi, the Fountain of Neptune and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I.
Did you know that in the Palazzo Vecchio we can find a series of hidden passages? These secret passages were built by the Medici to escape their enemies or to store valuables. For example, in the Stanza delle Mappe (The map room) is the map of Armenia, behind which there is an entrance leading to the dressing room of the Duchess Bianca Capello, who was the second wife of Francesco I.
Why visit Palazzo Vecchio?
The Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) is one of the most famous symbols of the city of Florence and certainly is a stop that can't miss in your visit to this city cradle of the Italian Renaissance. Palazzo Vecchio was built in the form of a castle and with a tower of 94 meters high between 1299 and 1314. Its function was to become the residence and workplace of the officials of the republic, so it has several rooms, each with a unique personality. One of the first rooms you will visit when you enter the Palazzo Vecchio is the " Salone dei Cinquecento" (Hall of the Five Hundreds), a large room with an extension of 54 meters long by 22 meters wide and 17 meters high, making it the largest room in Florence.
How to visit the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace)?
The Palazzo Vecchio is the symbol of the civil power of the city of Florence from more than seven centuries, for this reason, we advise you to discover its history following the explanations of an expert guide.
You can visit the building by buying an entrance ticket to Palazzo Vecchio in combination with the Audio Guide of the city of Florence with priority entrance.
There are many options to visit it: from the classical Palazzo Vecchio tour to the guided tour of Dan Brown's Inferno, which will allow you to discover the most mysterious aspect of the Palazzo della Signoria (Lordship Palace). Obviously, the visit with a private guide is also recommended. The proposed itineraries are different and all of them can be customized, for example, the private visit based on Dan Brown's Inferno and the Boboli Gardens, will show you all the places described in the famous book.
Other attractions in the area
In the surroundings of Palazzo Vecchio there are other monuments that are worth to be visited, among them:
The Loggia of the Lanzi also known as Loggia della Signoria, a small open-air museum on the side of Palazzo Vecchio, here we can see various works such as the Kidnapping of the Sabines and the Perseus with the head of Medusa.
Here we also find the Uffizi Gallery built by the architect Giorgio Vasari in 1560 by order of Cosimo I de Medici to host the offices of thirteen artistic guilds and magistrates. The top floor of this building was assigned for the private collections of artworks of the Medici.
On the other side of Palazzo Vecchio is the Fountain of Neptune known by the Florentines as "il biancone", this fountain was built by Bartolomeo Ammannati and his disciples. Beside it, it is the equestrian statue of Cosimo I, a work done in 1594 by Giambologna.
The Myth: Achilles, Thetis and the Troyan war
The decoration extends over the whole surface through a series of horizontal bands. The figures are drawn in great detail and most are identified by inscriptions there are also signatures of authors, namely, those of the pottery painter Kleitias and the ceramist Ergotimos.
Figures are painted in black on a red background, and the interior details were produced with thin incised lines. In total there are seven narrative sections, each pertaining to a particular myth. The common thread between the episodes is the story of Achilles, the hero par excellence. The main scene is located along the central section and occupies the vessel’s entire circumference.
It is the most famous wedding in all of Greek mythology. The bride and groom are Thetis, the sea goddess, and Peleus, a mortal. From their union Achilles is born. This is the episode that inspired the entire Homeric epic. During the wedding party Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite begin arguing over who is the most beautiful. Paris chooses Aphrodite and wins Helen’s love, the most beautiful woman in the world. From their love the Trojan War arises.
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Florentine museum to showcase artifacts from FSU archaeological site
By: Kathleen Haughney | Published: June 1, 2017 | 10:00 am | SHARE:
Items that will be showcased in the “Wells of Wonders: New Discoveries at Cetamura del Chianti” exhibit at the Florence National Archaeological Museum.
New Discoveries Tell History of Italy’s Chianti Region
A new exhibition opening this June at the Florence National Archaeological Museum will feature nearly 300 ancient items excavated from the Florida State University-operated archaeological site Cetamura del Chianti.
The exhibition reveals the ancient history of the Chianti region, said Nancy de Grummond, the M. Lynette Thompson Professor of Classics and the director of excavations at Cetamura del Chianti, an archaeological site in the hills of the Chianti region.
“I’ve wanted to do an exhibit like this ever since I became the director,” de Grummond said. “My dream is coming true.”
The show, “Wells of Wonders: New Discoveries at Cetamura del Chianti,” opens June 9 and runs until Sept. 30, 2017.
Nearly 300 items pulled from two wells that sit on the site explore the history of Etruscan, Roman and medieval civilizations.
While the majority of items are tools or artifacts — 14 bronze pitchers, bowls and buckets were recovered — there are also some ecological exhibits. Researchers found a huge series of grape seeds dating back to 300 B.C. suggesting the area was full of vineyards even then. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see a video explaining the excavation process and how finding these seeds illuminated the history of one of the world’s most popular wine regions.
Though some items were recovered in perfect or near-perfect shape, often only fragments or shards of an item have been excavated. To give visitors a better view of what a given artifact looked like, fragments will be placed next to a 3D-printed recreation of the object.
A bronze handle with animal head finials and a “fleur-de-lis” handle attachment discovered at the Florida State University-operated archaeological site Cetamura del Chianti.
Cetamura del Chianti is an archaeological site that was discovered in 1964 by an Italian avocational archaeologist named Alvaro Tracchi and has been investigated by Florida State University since 1973. Since 1983, de Grummond has run the excavation of the site that has proven to be a treasure trove of information about the Etruscan settlement over multiple eras.
It took researchers years to reach the bottom of one of the two wells on the property. This well is cut deeply into the bedrock and water seeps in from the sides. The second well, which was more accessible, is more traditional and has walls of masonry. Each is about 6 feet in diameter, so when archaeologists descend into the well, they have to take a breathing apparatus and lighting equipment.
They only go down for shifts of about two hours.
Throughout the excavation process, de Grummond has been aided by undergraduate and graduate students at Florida State University through International Programs, students and colleagues at Studio Arts College International (SACI) and Italian archaeologists from the firm ICHNOS: Archeologia, Ambiente e Sperimentazione, who engineered the excavation of the two wells.
Former FSU graduate students Laurel Taylor, now a professor at University of North Carolina Asheville, and Charles Ewell, who teaches in the Florence programs for New York University and Syracuse University, have continued to work at the site and have brought along their students, too.
Ken Kobré, a retired photojournalism professor and FSU alumnus who was part of the inaugural class at the FSU Florence Study Center in 1966, photographed all of the items for the exhibition catalog.
To learn more about de Grummond’s work, visit the program’s Facebook page to see photos from the dig.
The National Archaeological Museum of Florence is situated inside an ancient palace in Piazza Santissima Annunziata built in honour of Princess Maria Maddalena de’ Medici. Opened in the 1870, over the years it has greatly increased collections and works inside it, becoming today the site containing the best of excavations of all Tuscany. The National Archaeological Museum of Florence boasts numerous Roman, Etruscan, Egyptian and Greek finds, found in tombs or coming from Medici and Lorenzo treasures. Alongside these, there are also vestiges of Paleovenet, Villanovian, High Middle Ages and Ancient Anatolia cultures, as well as vestiges of the Renaissance and bronze works inspired by ancient cultures.
Etruscan section of the National Archaeological Museum of Florence
In the Etruscan section of the National Archaeological Museum of Florence stands out the masterpiece of the “Chimera d’Arezzo”, a bronze depicting the leonine fair, built in the 4 th century BC and restored by Benvenuto Cellini. Also famous is the statue of the “Arringatore”, which depicts the noble Aule Metelle, while other symbols belong to the funeral art, such as the “Mater Matuta”, “The urn of the Bottarone”, the “Sarcophagus of Laerthia Seianti” as well as that of the “Amazons” and that of the “Obeso”.
Roman section of the National Archaeological Museum of Florence
The Roman section of the National Archaeological Museum of Florence enchants with the statue of 146 cm of the “Idol of Pesaro”, with the “Torso of Livorno”, the bronze of the “Minerva d’Arezzo”, but also with oil-lamps, weights, headers, Roman camels of the Medici and of Lorraine. Of extraordinary impact is also the section devoted to Egypt, second in Italy only to the Turin Museum, containing also wood, fabric and bone objects, as well as papyrus, pots and stems ready to document the period of the Ancient, Middle Kingdom and final part.
Greek section at the National Archaeological Museum of Florence
The Greek section of the National Archaeological Museum of Florence offers a remarkable collection of Greek ceramics reclaimed in Etruscan tombs and coming from exchanges with the Greek world. Particularly interesting are the “Vaso Francois”, the “Cups of the Little Masters”, a “red-figures hydria”, two kouroi of the Apollo and little Apollo Milan, the “Torso d’Atleta”, the “Equestrian Head”. The numismatic part is one of the most important of Italy, with more than 80,000 pieces and the largest collection of Etruscan coins in the world (1.173 copies).
Florence – Archeological Museum – Etruscan Antiquities
FROM the Cyprian collection the visitor enters the suite of rooms assigned to Etruscan remains. The Etruscan settlements extended over the greater part of Italy, from the plains of Lombardy to the Tiber, and their commercial relations with Egypt, Greece, and Asia introduced various manufactures, which render it difficult to distinguish between native and foreign. Although it is evident that the upper class had obtained a luxury which implies high material civilisation, the absence of literary remains, and the little that can be deciphered on monumental inscriptions, make it impossible to obtain any certainty relating to the history of this singular people, the progenitors of the modern Tuscans.
The latest conjecture arrived at by archæologists is, that the Etruscans were a Pelasgic race, who, in a pre-Celtic period, were spread over Europe, and, settling in Italy, mixed with the Oscan and Umbrian inhabitants, until, in their turn, they were conquered, as is supposed, by the Rasenæ, another Northern race, who formed the dominant class or aristocracy which position they maintained until the Romans subdued the whole country. Their chief gods were Tina, the Roman Jupiter Cupra, Juno and Menerfa, Minerva : other gods were worshipped in particular places. Tina was assisted by a council of twelve divinities, the Dii Consentes, who presided over the powers of nature, and were perishable with the material creation. Nine gods were allowed to wield the thunderbolt.
On the walls of tombs and on vases and mirrors are frequently to be found representations of VenusTuran MercuryTurms VulcanSethlans and of PlutoMantus, who, with his consort ProserpineMania, was the chief of the infernal deities. Genii or attendant spirits are a peculiar feature of Etruscan mythology, and the images of Lares or household divinities were common in every family. The Lara, or Lasa, is often represented as a winged female. The mythology of Greece is also found mingled with that of Etruria. Greek vases in Etruria record the stories belonging to Greek religion, and thus their traditions were copied and assimilated by the Etruscans.
The first room of this collection contains vases of black and grey clay, belonging to the earliest period, called Bucchero. In Cabinet I. are specimens of the most ancient pottery, which was hand-made and baked in the sun. In Cabinet II. most of the vases are Umbrian, some for household and others for cinerary purposes, and all are of the black clay, worked by the hand.
Case III. contains primitive Etruscan vases, also hand-made one of these, No. r6, is of red clay and very elegant in form. No. 13, a large Crater or Kelebe of black ware, is from Orvieto. The Kelebe is the oldest or most archaic form of vase, and was used for mixing water with the wine, a custom prevalent with the ancients it has pillared or crowned handles. No. 14 is a gourd-shaped vessel, with one handle low down, and a cover.
The vases of black ware in Cabinet IV. are some of them hand-made, but others have been turned by the potter’s wheel. No. 19 is a singular vase from Chiusi, with the heads of cocks placed at the alternate mouths round the body of the vase it was , intended for funeral rites, as the cock had reference to death and immortality. No. 26 is also a remarkable cinerary urn, important from the reliefs on it of the Sphinx and Fish.
No. 28 is a child’s toy of a car with horses, found at Orvieto. No. 18 and No. 21 are again gourd-shaped vessels.
Case V. contains imitations of Greek work from Southern Etruria, one of them, No. 31, has a dove on the top. A jug or Oinochoe of very elegant form, No. 33, on the lowest shelf, has been turned by the wheel. The term Oinochoe is applied to a jug with a trefoil spout, from which water was poured on the hands of guests at a banquet. These vases were found at Tarquinii, Caere, Veii, and other Etruscan cities near Rome they belong to B.C. 700 and B.C. 600. No. 35 is a double vase with holes pierced on the inner vessel on a shelf above, No. 29, is an Oinochoe with the image of a horse on the top, the horse was symbolical of a journey to another world, and a horse’s head therefore sometimes appears in the corner of a monument, representing the farewell of the dying. Though intended for funeral purposes, the vase is an imitation of those in use for the household. No. 34 is an Oinochoe with reliefs of animals on a narrow border round the neck, and also round the body.
Cases V. to VII. contain vases from Maritime Etruria, most of which belong to the period from B.C. 600 to B.C. 500, and some of them are imitations of the Greek. The jugs in Case VII. have mouths like the beaks of birds. No. 36 is a small vessel of four cups for flowers or condiments.
In Case VIII. are vases of the same period, which have been evidently cast in moulds : Nos. 37, 38, and 39, with doves on the top, rest on stands, or on an apparatus for heating incense. On the handle of No. 41 are two figures of extremely Egyptian character.
Case IX. contains vases with decorations stamped by a cylinder, the same subject being repeated at equal intervals some of these are in black ware. On No. 43 the horse is again represented. No. 45 is a red vase from Cortona.
Two large vases in the windows area Dole, or open-mouthed jar, and a Pithos, a jar with a neck both are fluted, and have reliefs round their edges stamped by the cylinder. The Pithos was the largest vase in use for storing liquids, oil, fruits, &c. It was also occasionally used as an urn to contain human ashes, and the entire corpse was even sometimes buried in two Pithi, placed mouth to mouth, as found in a tomb near ancient Troy. It was in a Pithos, not a tub, that Diogenes took up his abode the wretched and houseless poor must have sometimes crawled for shelter into these large jars, since there was a Greek proverb, The life of a Pithos,’ to express a mean and miserable existence.
Between the windows is a terra-cotta tray, with two bearded figures and a ram on the rim it is supposed to have contained some of the vessels for funeral rites.
In the centre of the room are two Canopi that of terra-cotta, with one arm extended, once contained the ashes of a warrior the Canopus below is a fine work of an early period, with the head, bust, and arms of a man.
Near one of the entrances to this room are two smaller terra-cotta Canopi, on chairs of the same material. On either side of the door leading to the farther room, are statuettes of a mother and daughter : the first attiring herself, and the second combing her hair both held the ashes of the dead.
Most of the vases in the second room are brought from the neighbourhood of Chiusi. The material, as well as designs of many of them, belong to the finest period of black pottery. The polish on these vases is singularly clear and bright the shapes are simple and elegant some are fluted, but most of them smooth and the smaller vases are exceedingly beautiful.
In Case I. are vases of the period about B.C. 600 they are decorated by the cylindrical process. Cases II. and III. contain a continuation of the same. Those in Case IV. have reliefs of lions, the sphinx, &c. In Case V. are several goblets of various forms, beautifully ornamented in relief No. 50 is remarkable for the form, and the reliefs of men and deer. Case VI. has cinerary vasesash chestsof every variety of form, with trays, probably taken from the tombs of women, since the objects within them are all for domestic use they are provided with tablets on which wax was rubbed to write on with the stylus.
On the third shelf are vases resting on stands, and on the highest shelf, several of a peculiar form, which may have been used as rests for the arms some are basket-shaped vases, &c.
On the top and within the glass cases A and B in the centre of the room are funeral vases with figures in relief human heads, as represented on Greek gems to represent the manes or departed spirit the sphinx, geese, stags, horses carrying the dead, with cocks and doves, are on the tops. Within Case B is a tray containing household utensils.
Case VII. has vases remarkable for beauty of form, as well as several trays. An Oinochoe, No. 58, has a fine lustre.
In Case VIII., No. 59 has a lid in the form of a Bull’s head, and below is a relief of the Greek legend of Theseus with the Marathonian Bull he seizes it by the horns with one hand, whilst with the other he grasps one of the animal’s forelegs. No. 64 is a singular vase with a dove on the top, and the relief of an Egyptian head, characterised by the high set ears, and with eyes descending towards the nose, peculiar to Egyptian art.
Crossing the gallery of painted vases, the two rooms beyond, called the Sale degli Arnesi, are filled with a most interesting collection of bronzes. Under a large glass case in the centre of the first room are various articles of a lady’s toilet found in a tomb at Chiusi, and belonging to one of the best periods of art, about B.C. 500. A cup or vase for incense is supported by the figure of an athlete two smaller vases were for perfumes one of glass is a Phoenician importation two beautiful alabastrons of alabaster are from the East and two others in painted pottery are from Attica. The alabastron was probably intended for paint it has no foot, and is sometimes in the shape of an animal the material of which they are made is either, like the first of these, oriental alabaster, or else terra-cotta with black designs on a cream-coloured ground.
In this case are also a mirror, and a most graceful article for the toilet, in the form of a Nereid holding the shell of Venus. A fine bronze vase at the top of the case is surmounted by a dancing nymph. Below is a Braciere, or pan for charcoal, with an instrument ending in a hand to stir the fuel round the edge are bearded satyrs.
Cases I. and II. contain candelabra, some of them in exquisite forms one is supported by three panthers. The candelabra No. 8 was brought from Telamon below, Venus looks at herself in a mirror the upper part is supported by a Nereid frogs are in the corners several lamps and finely-wrought handles of cistae, or caskets, are of great beauty. One is composed of two warriors, another of winged genii supporting a dying soldier on the upper shelf, besides a casket, there are two feet of a tripod, one of which represents Perseus with the dying Medusa, the other Peleus and Thetis. No. 11 is an emblem in the form of a star-fish, with a head in the centre, and an inscription to the effect that this was a sacred gift from one Aulus Velturius, son of Fenizia.
Case III. has only military weapons. Case IV. has a complete suit of armour, which has been gilt it is from a tomb near Orvieto the helmet and shield, with the breastplate and grieves, are beautifully moulded to the form.
Case V. contains various weapons, and bronze helmets of a very early or archaic period a bronze hatchet with a long ivory handle studded with amber, probably for sacrificial purposes, was found at Chiusi. The quantity of amber in Etruscan ornaments may be considered a proof in support of the theory that the race in early times was spread over Europe as far as the Baltic though it might also have been imported, since the Etruscans appear to have carried their commerce into all parts of the known world. No. 17 is a bronze Italian helmet or Pileus, in the form of a skull-cap of felt, as seen in representations of Ulysses it has horses engraven on it. In Case VI. are other military weapons : No. 18 is a Greek helmet, which may be compared with No. 19, an Etruscan helmet.
Case VII. has several objects of great interest discovered near the Tower of Telamon. No. 2 7 is a little model of a plough.
Case VIII. contains implements for domestic use found in the Necropolis of Telamon. No. 31 is a Patera, or sacrificial cup of bronze, with reliefs, in which Professor Milani recognises Ulysses, with Diomedes, visiting Philoctetes. Philoctetes, one of the heroes of the Trojan war, had received the bow and arrows of Hercules, without which Troy could not be taken he was detained in the island of Lemnos by either a self-inflicted wound, or a serpent’s sting in his foot and Ulysses and Diomedes followed him thither, to entreat him to return and hasten the capture of Troy. The subject is found on Greek and Etruscan vases and Scarabei. On an upper shelf is a balsam vase No. 33 is a vase in the form of a head of Venus near it is a beautiful jug and No. 35 is a finely-shaped Situla or pail No. 34 is a lovely Patera, the handle of which has a winged figure of Lasa, the female genius attached to the worship of Venus.
Case IX. contains vessels supposed to be as old as B.C. 700 to B.C. 500. No. 42 is a little silver Situla found at Chiusi, unique of its kind on it are engraven warriors on horseback and women carrying bundles on their heads the style of art is very Phoenician: and No. 41 is one of the most ancient funeral vases in existence.
Case X.: No. 51 is a bronze mask from Chiusi No. 52, a bird cage No. 49, an ornament or handle in extremely fine workmanship a youth bends backwards, and is supported by two bearded men, who carry him on their shoulders.
Case XI. contains fragments of vases, chiefly belonging to the fourth and third centuries before Christ.
Cases XII. to XV. have utensils for domestic use, handles, and ornaments, such as pins, bracelets, and armlets of bronze, besides razors, strigils, and pincers.
In a case in the window is a fine collection of ivories. The most valuable represents a pigmy bearing a dead crane on his shoulder it is in good Greek work, or an. Etruscan copy from the Greek. No. 90 are fragments of a small casket found in a tomb at Orvieto, and is of Etruscan or Asiatic work, though the subject is Greek : Hercules with the Stag, and two reclining figures at a banquet No. 82, Bacchus and a Satyr No. 83, Apollo, in fine low relief. There are, besides, dice, combs, a beautiful little alabastron, and fragments of other articles.
Above the large cases against the walls are placed bronze vases, a tripod with a sacrificial basin on it, a bronze wheel, &c. The decorations of this room are copied from the warrior’s tomb at Cære.
In the adjoining room are three splendid bronze figures. The Chimæra, which was discovered in the centre of a tomb near Corneto, is one of the most perfect bronzes of antiquity. It was brought to Florence in 1554, and is cited by Vasari as a proof of the excellence to which the Etruscans had arrived in bronze casting. It is supposed to be nearly contemporaneous with the Wolf of Rome, though less archaic in character. The inscription on the right foreleg is as follows :-FINS’ IVILand signifies the dedication to a divinity. The characters mark the period, as some letters in the Etruscan alphabet are known to have been a late innovation. The myth of the Chimera or fire-breathing monstertherefore appropriately represented in metalis supposed to have been invented in a volcanic district of Asia Minor, from whence a colony was planted in Etruria but it is difficult to account for the form of a lion, with a dragon or serpent for a tail, and a goat’s head springing from the back. The serpent here is a restoration of the sixteenth century, and it is by no means certain that it was intended to bite the goat. The monster is represented wounded by Bellerophon, and the whole action expresses pain. When brought to Florence it was placed in a room of the Palazzo Vecchio, inhabited by the Grand Duke Cosimo I. It is alluded to in a postscript to u letter written by Annibale Caro to Cardinal Farnese the year of its discovery :’ The accompanying drawing is of a bronze statue found when excavating certain ditches, if I remember well, in Arezzo or in Volterra, which is not exhibited, because the superstitious consider it portentous of something relating to the Grand Duke, and to signify the Marzocco of Florence with the Capricorn, which last belongs to (or was the crest of) the Duke, and, both being wounded, augur some evil about to befall him.’ But we have something more to do than attend to these idle tales.l
The Orator, a statue above life-size, is in one corner of the room. His right arm is raised, and his body is slightly inclined forward, as if addressing an audience the fingers of the left hand, one of which has a ring, are bent, but in movement the whole figure is full of life, and expresses the orator, by which name this statue is known. He is attired in a tunic with short sleeves, and a mantle, which hangs in large and simple folds an inscription is on the border of the tunic to this effect :
AULESI METELLISVE VESTALKLENSI KENPLERESTEKESAN S LTENINE TUTHINES CHIS(E)LIKS,
To Aulus Metellis Ve Vesiah, his son presents this gift un-worthy, he deposited as his offering this effigy.
The buskins, or shoes, are fastened by thongs twisted round the leg the head is noble and animated, with the eager expression, plain features, and square intellectual brow commonly seen in Tuscany among the middle and lower orders the hair is short, and beard shaven as was usual with the Etruscans the exaggerated length of the right arm is owing to imperfect repairs. This statue was discovered near the Lake of Thrasymene, and is another proof to what perfection the art of bronze casting, as well as modelling, was brought by the Etruscans.
To the right of the entrance to this room is a bronze statue, Minerva with the Ægis, discovered near Arezzo in 1541, and worthy of all praise for elegance of proportions and finish of detail. The repairs have been badly made. Minerva is without her spear, one hand is concealed in the folds of her dress, the other is extended, perhaps to receive offerings and thus represented, she is symbolical of Peace. The Chiton, or tunic, falls to her feet in Close folds, whilst the Himation, or square mantle, is drawn tightly round her person a serpent is on her helmet : the pose is full of dignity.
Within the glass case at the farther window is a choice collection of works or art. No. r is an Etruscan portrait head No. 2, Bacchus and his attendant genius, a purely Etruscan work, B.C. 300 No. 3, a Greco-Roman statuette of Jove, is placed here to stand a comparison with the other bronzes in this case, which are all Etruscan : it is very grand in form and majestic in attitude No. 4, Castor reining back his horse, is full of spirit, and was possibly suggested by a work of Lysippus No. 6 is an archaic Umbrian statuette of Minerva. Above these bronzes, No. 10 represents a dying Hercules striving to tear off the poisoned garment No. 11, Hercules killing the Hydra, formed part of a group executed about B.C. 400 No. 9, Perseus No. 13, Pegasus and No. 12, a Chimaera.
Below are very beautiful bronze casts of hands one has a ring on the forefinger. Also the statuette of a warrior.
At the end of the room, facing the entrance, are three glass cases. In the central is a collection of mirrors, and of the sheaths or cases of mirrors, some of which have on the backs very beautiful reliefs one represents Orestes followed by the Furies another, Bacchus , preceded by a Muse. The finest is in the centre, and is supposed to represent Hermes (Mercury), bringing the infant Bacchus to Ino, the daughter of Cadmus. Various representations of animals and of long archaic human figures, with bronzes of a late period, are ranged along the top or placed within the two other cases.
One of the most beautiful objects in this room is a small bronze Situla, six inches high, and originally gilt, which is suspended in a glass case facing the window to the left of the entrance. It was found near Volsinium, and is decorated with a relief of the most delicate workmanship. The subject is Dionysus (Bacchus) and Ariadne conducting Hephaistos (Vulcan) back to Olympus they are attended by Satyrs and Mænads. Hephaistos is riding on an ass, on which is inscribed the word Suthina in Etruscan letters, which denotes the vase to have been a votive offering. The period is probably between B.C. 350 and B.C. 300, and the .work Etruscan under Hellenic influence. Cases I., II., and III., near the walls, contain a number of small figures connected with the mythology of Etruria.
Returning to the gallery of painted vases, the compartment at the end is filled by a large case, in which is a collection of objects discovered in 1880 in a tomb at Chiusi, and belonging to an early period, probably about B.C. 700. A bronze chair, the seat originally of wood, was covered with an imitation of leather in bronze on this is placed a large bronze vase, which is classed with the Canopi, since vases of this shape have the human head often added. Several household utensils are also here, and a red vase of the same elegant form as the early vase in the first room of this collection. Case II., near the window, contains dice and eyes, which were perhaps intended as a charm to protect the wearer against the evil eye, a superstition still prevalent in Tuscany, and possibly derived from the same charm worn by the Egyptians as typical of the Sun, a divinity and protecting power. Here are also vases belonging to the Pelasgic or earliest Etruscan era, made by the potter’s wheel, and painted with rude images of animals.
The most archaic pottery which had any pretension to artistic merit was made in Corinth, and the few specimens that remain may generally be recognised by a rude representation of the Corinthian rose. A Corinthian is supposed to have imported the art into Etruria. The Greco-Etruscan vases of the earliest period are of a yellow or pale ashen colour, and have a dull opaque surface they are decorated with designs in brown, crimson, purple and white. The figures are ranged within horizontal bands round the vase, and are Asiatic in character, whilst the lotus leaf of Egypt forms a conspicuous ornament. The subjects are chiefly the combats of wild animalslions, leopards, bulls, goats, swans, the sphinx, chimæra, and griffin, all representing a chaotic age. Wherever the human form appears, it is stiff and conventional where a legend or history is represented, the names are written over each individual in early Greek or Etruscan characters.
The period of painted Greek vases commenced earlier than any known Greek sculpture, and ended about the reign of Alexander of Macedon, B.C. 334-323. They were used first in the celebration of the rites of Bacchus and Ceres, the divinities of wine and corn, whose ceremonies were symbolical of immortality for, as the skin of the grape must be broken to produce wine, and the corn must be sown in the ground and die before bread can be made, so the body of man must perish before his spirit can be set free. These painted vases were sometimes used to contain the wine thrown on the funereal pile, and were afterwards placed in the tomb others contained the ashes of the dead others, again, were the gifts of friends, and these have the name and the Greek word ‘Beautiful,’ equivalent to ‘ Hail I ‘inscribed on them. Many of the vases were used as rewards for the victors in the public games. The ground of painted vases in the second period is red, and the figures black, with the occasional use of white for the faces and hands of the females, and of purple in the draperies. The drawing is still dry and stiff, but with life and movement and dramatic effect, sometimes bordering on caricature.
In Cases III. and IV. are vases with the rose of Corinth, and in Case IV. a vase, probably made at Athens, with, on one side, the departure of a hero, on the other Troilus, who is flying on horseback from the pursuit of Achilles on foot.
In the right corner, entering the longest compartment, is an amphora of light-coloured clay with a painting, representing three dancing nymphs.
The amphora is a two-handled vessel, generally tall, and often, as in the instance just mentioned, pointed at the base, for insertion in the ground.
The cases facing the windows contain vases supposed to be of Greek manufacture, either imported, or manufactured under the direction of Greek artists in Etruria. The opposite cases contain vases of native work, which were generally imitations of the Greek. The Etruscans appear to have been endowed with a highly imitative faculty, and not to have produced much that was original.
Case V. to the right has vases with black or polychrome figures on a red ground, and are chiefly of Attic manufacture, about B.C. 600. A Hydria, or water jar, which has always three handles, for the convenience of lifting it on the head, is ornamented with the story of the marriage of Peleus. In the upper part are Hercules and Ichnaea or Themis, the personification of Law, Order, and Equity, and often represented in a figure resembling Athenæ (Minerva). On a vase above, Poseidon (Neptune) is seen disputing with Athenæ for the possession of the Acropolis of Athens.
The subjects of the second period of Greek art are chiefly taken from the exploits of Hercules.
An early polychrome vase in Case VI. represents Hercules and Minerva fighting with the Titans and above this is a vase in the succeeding grand style, in which Hercules is again the subject on the warrior’s shield in this composition is a Gorgon’s head, and two panthers in white.
In Cases VIL, VIII., and IX. are vases with black figures on a light ground, belonging to the decadence of the second period of art.
The third and best period of ceramic art consists of red figures on a black ground. The designs do not at first differ widely from those of the second period, and the style may be divided into early and late. The early style is stiff and archaic, but vigorous the late, in which the art of drawing has attained greater elegance, as well as freedom, may be assigned to three hundred years before our era, or from the end of the Peloponnesian war to Alexander the Great. The early or strong style belongs to the age of Phidias the most graceful is contemporary with Parrhasius and Apelles, when inscriptions gradually disappear, and scenes of domestic life, or the gentler tales of heroic legend, are substituted for the labours of Hercules and the feats of Achilles.
Near the door leading to the room of sarcophagi, in Case X., is a very fine Kelebe, a vessel already described among the black vases as belonging to an early period and generally found in Sicily or Magna Græcia. On this is represented the combat of the Centaurs and Lapithæ, in red figures on a black ground the figures are full of vigorous movement, life, and strength, and the composition very grand. Near this Kelebe are two fine Stamni, high-shouldered, short-necked vases, with two small handles, they were for oil and fruit, and are still in use under the same name in Greece on one of these are represented nymphs, and the artificer, Hermanax, has inscribed his name upon it on the other, Theseus is seen slaying the Centaur Pholos. On an upper shelf is a Pelike, or pear-shaped vase, having on it the legend of Theseus killing the Minotaur.
The Cases XI. to XV. between the door leading to the rooms of Sarcophagi and Urns and that leading to the room of Gold Ornaments and Glass, are principally filled with Kylice, the most elegant of ancient goblets, in various forms, having red figures on a black ground. They range from an early to a late period of art, and some of them are exceedingly beautiful.
The deep two-handled cup, or Kantharos, of which there are examples in Case XI., was especially dedicated to Bacchus the one-handled Kyathos was used to dip into the mixing jar or Krater, in which the wine and water were prepared.
The Kylix in its latest form was a flat-shaped saucer with two handles, and is generally most remarkable for beauty in the design, and was ornamented within and without. The mirror on which some of the best are placed on the lowest shelf, enables the visitor to judge of the excellence of the designs beneath these vases. Several have large eyes painted on them, either as charms, or as some suppose because they belonged to ships, a not improbable supposition, since the ship, when represented on engraved gems or vases, follows the idea of a Dolphin and even on Greek or Dalmatian vessels to this day, the eye is painted on the prow round the hole where the rope passes. On a vase in the British Museum Ulysses is seen tied to the mast, whilst passing the Syrens, and here the eye is distinctly marked on the prow of the vessel.
A fine Tazza, or Kylix, in Case XIII., has Theseus and the Minotaur inside, and underneath are represented other enter-prises of the Athenian hero. On another Kylix is a banquet two youths prepare for the games, one of whom holds the strigil, a bronze instrument used to scrape off the oil with which they anointed their bodies a fillet is bound round their heads above the principal figures, who recline on couches, are the utensils for the feast.
Some of the finest vases in the collection are contained in Case XVI. Next the door leading to the room of Gold Ornaments is an Oinochoe from Nola, on which are represented Dionysus (Bacchus) holding a Kantharos, and standing between two Mænads there is also an amphora, on which Hercules is seen with a tripod, and on the other side Helios (Apollo). Above these is a smaller .vase, but very important from the beauty of the design with which it is ornamented. Selene or Luna, the goddess of the Moon, is seated gracefully on a horse which is drinking this is supposed to be copied from a composition by Phidias.
On another vase a nymph is pursued by a satyr. On a third .a marriage is represented the bride is attended by her Pronubusthe young married man, husband of one wifewho has to lift her across the threshold of her new home, which is here typified by a column she stretches out her hand towards her bridegroom.
In Case XVII. is an Athenian Stamnos, B.C. 500400, with three nymphs one lays her hand on the head of another the subject is gracefully treated. On a small amphora above, Peleus is pursuing Thetis.
One of the most beautiful compositions is on a Kalpis, a kind of Hydria or Water-jar, in Case XVIII. According to Dennis, the subject upon it is the nymph Herse pursued by HermesMercurywhilst her sister Agraulos, prompted by jealousy, runs off to inform their father Cecrops. On the line above are seen two girls, Dorka and Selinike, dressed as warriors, and performing in turn the Pyrrhic dance another female plays the double flute, whilst one behind her is seated as a spectator, with an attendant at the back of her chair she is followed by a maiden playing on the lyre and the composition ends by a winged cupid.
Beside the Kalpis is a vase with Triptolemus on his winged chariot he is represented as a youthful hero, wearing the felt cap of ploughmen and fishermen, the same as that worn by Mercury. Demeter (Ceres) and Persephone (Proserpine) are on either side. Triptolemus was the hero of the Eleusinian mysteries, which were held in honour of Demeter. The goddess had once her infant brother in charge, and wishing to make the boy immortal, held him over a fire, but his mother screaming in terror, the child was consumed. As a compensation to the parents, Demeter gave Triptolemus a winged chariot, on which he travelled over the earth, and made mankind acquainted with the blessings of agriculture. A small Stamnos in Case XIX. has a warrior on a white horse attacking another on foot the horse and the rider are full of spirit.
In the last cases in this compartment, XX. and XXI., are vases from Apulia and Southern Italy of a late period, and black vases with white foliage and figures from Brindisi. A large vase in the corner of this room, decorated in polychrome, has on the centre medallion three figures, supposed by some to represent Ulysses and Diomedes with Philoctetes at Lemnos, hut great uncertainty remains as to the meaning of this composition.
In the farthest compartment of this long gallery, Cases XXII. to XXIV. contain black vases which were found in the Etruscan Campagna, but in good Greek forms, and be-longing to a period from B.C. 300 to B.C. 200. Several of them have fine reliefs, especially a Situla in one of the central cases, XXV., on which is represented Acton or Endymion with a dog. Several fine Kraters, in Case XXIV., with small handles near the base, and ornamented with foliage, are in very elegant forms. In Case XXVII., near the end, are vases from Orvieto, which have been gilt.
In Case XXVIII. are fine red vases from Arezzo, a ware which was highly esteemed by the Romans. In the cases opposite are placed provisionally various terra-cottas of friezes and some votive offerings. Returning by the side near the window, the cases contain Etruscan imitations of minor importance. The vases first arrived at were taken from the tomb at Orvieto discovered a few years ago they have a dull surface, and yellow figures on a dark ground.
In the centre of this Gallery is placed the famous François vase, which was discovered by Signor Alessandro François in 1845 at Fonte Rotella, near Chiusi. It is a large wide-mouthed Krater of the second period, and is minutely described by Dennis :on the neck of the vase are two bands of figures on one side is the Hunt of the Boar of Calydon the heroes and dogs have their names inscribed, and among the former are Kastor and PoludeukesPollux. At each end is a sphinx. On the other side is the Return of Theseus from the Slaughter of the Minotaur. The ship approaches the land, and one of the companions of Theseus leaps ashore another casts himself into the sea to swim to the land, where thirteen youths and maidens are dancing in honour of Theseus, who plays the lyre, and has Ariadne by his side.
On the second band of the vase is represented the Battle of the Centaurs and Lapithæ, with all their names attached. Theseus is prominent in the fight. On the other side are Funeral Games in honour of Patroclus a race of five chariots with four horses, and Achilles standing at the goal with a tripod for the winner tripods and vases are beneath the chariots.
The third and principal band has the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis the goddess is in a Doric temple with an altar, on which is a Kantharos, and her mortal spouse Peleus before her his hand is held by the Centaur Cheiron, who is followed by Iris with the Caduceus, by the nymphs Hestia, Chariklo, and one other lastly, Dionysus carrying an Amphora. A long procession follows of deities in chariots, beginning with Zeus and Hera Ares and Aphrodite occupy the fourth car Hermes and his mother Maia, the sixth Hephaistos on his donkey comes last.
In the fourth band Achilles, on foot, is pursuing Troilus, who is in a chariot. . After Achilles is his mother, Thetis Athenæ, Hermes, and Rhodia are near the fountain, where Troilus was said to have been surprised. Under the steeds of his chariot is a Hydria, which a terrified female has let fall. The walls of Troy are painted white, and are of regular Greek masonry. The gate is not arched, but a flat lintel. Hector and Polites hasten out of it to the rescue of their brother Troilus. Outside the gate is seated Priam on his throne talking with his son Antenor. Two Trojans are at the fountain : one of them is filling a vase the water flows from spouts made like the heads of panthers. On the other side of the fountain is the Return of Hephaistos to Olympus. Zeus and Hera are on a throne at the end, and behind them are Athenæ, Ares and Artemis (Minerva, Mars and Diana), Dionysus and Aphrodite, (Bacchus and Venus) they are pleading for Hephaistos, who follows on his ass, attended by Silenus and nymphs. The fifth band contains beasts of various descriptions, griffins, sphinges, lions, panthers, boars, bulls, &c.
The sixth band is on the foot of the vase, and has a representation of pygmies mounted on goats and fighting with the cranes. The painter’s and potter’s names are on the principal band` Clitias drew me: Ergotimus made me.’ On one handle is an image of Diana grasping her panthers by the necks on the other she is holding a panther and stag. Beneath are groups of Ajax bearing the body of Achilles. Within each handle is a Fury running : the same figure which is often seen on Etruscan vases.
Below the François vase is a Skyphos or Goblet with high incurved handles, in imitation of metal on it are figures of Kephalos carried off by Eos, the Dawn. On a Stamnos Hercules is represented playing the double fife to Pan, who carries his club, whilst a Faun starts backwards in astonishment.
A Stamnos has Dionysus receiving a Libation from Ariadne, who holds the jug, whilst he has the Kantharos behind Dionysus a nymph carries a torch. There is also in the same case a splendid fragment of an Athenian vase, with the Combat of the Centaurs and Lapithae in the grand or severe style. A round Pyksis, Pyx, or casket of terra cotta, was intended for a lady’s toilet.
In another glass case in the centre of this Gallery is a Corinthian Krater, with a combat of warriors. This Krater is a double vase the inner for wine, the outer to contain snow to cool the wine below this is a fine vase of Orvieto of the time of the decadence. A room off this Gallery is assigned for gold Etruscan monuments, glass bowls, &c. The ornaments are extremely rich and delicate in design and workmanship the light gold leaves in garlands, which could be blown away at a breath, were intended for the dead. The glass cups and bowls, of which there is a considerable number, are equal to, or even excel in beauty of form and colour the celebrated Venetian glass from the island of Murano.
The second door in the long gallery leads to the first room of sarcophagiSala delle Urne. In the centre is a sarcophagus on which the life-sized statue of a lady reclines it is in coloured terra cotta. The cushion on which her arm rests is painted, and has a double fringe her dress is finished with so much exactness of detail, as to be a faithful representation of the costume of Etruscan women of rank. She has a wreath of flowers on her head, and wears earrings, necklace, brooch, bracelets and armlets, of gold her dress, which ‘is ornamented in colour, is confined at the waist by a girdle, set in precious stones : she holds a mirror in her hand. The sarcophagus itself is richly decorated, and bears an inscription. This valuable discovery was made in the neighbourhood of Chiusi. Another but larger sarcophagus, also in the centre of the room, is from Orvieto it is ornamented with griffins, human heads, &c. Between the two sarcophagi is a stele or monument from Fiesole, very Asiatic in character.
On either side of the entrance are statues of divinities of an Egyptian type. Turning to the left, the large monumental slabs against the wall are very archaic, and have the appearance of Asiatic sculpture men and animals are represented in relief the lion and the goose, typical of strength and weakness, or the perpetual conflict in nature, are the most conspicuous. In the middle of the second wall is a stone door, which turns on a pivot, and was brought from a tomb at Orvieto.
Several of the Cippi or urns here are imitations of a house with the roof as constructed by the Etruscans. On a shelf on the third wall are several Canopi from Chiusi, and urns with scenes relating to the passage of the soul to the other life also a fragment in Etruscan-Roman architecture of what may have been the pediment to a monument sacred to Silvanus, the wood-god. It is divided into three little temples containing small figures. In the centre is the god Silvanus with a sickle and cornucopia, and with a dog by his side to the left is a peasant with a wineskin and the pedum or shepherd’s crook to the right a satyr with corn and a cornucopia.
Near the door leading to the last room of this collection are two seated statues without hands or feet, and the heads made separate from the body. They have been supposed to represent Proserpine.
Beyond this door is another sarcophagus with the figure of a man, life-size, reclining upon it he holds a Patera, or sacrificial saucer, in his hand. On the shelf above are urns representing scenes of friends parting, emblematical of Death. Near an entrance to the room of black vases is a statue of a female divinity holding a Pomegranate the head is wanting : on the other side of the door is a slab with a figure of Egyptian type, which has been described by Dennis in the collection of Buonarroti. The wall farther on has slabs with reliefs of symbolical animals.
In the centre of the last room, or second Sala delle Urne, is the most remarkable monument here a sarcophagus which was discovered by the Avocato Giuseppe Braschi, in 1869. The cover is of Italian marble in the form of a roof, with females’ heads at the angles, and at either end, a relief of a youth and dog, probably Actæon. On one façade is a long inscription in Etruscan letters. The sarcophagus itself is of a different marble from the cover, in texture approaching alabaster, and is supposed to have been brought from the neighbourhood of Volterra. On both sides are magnificent paintings in distemper, which, though partly injured, retain enough to give some idea of Greek pictorial art, as it evidently belongs to the most cultivated period of Etruscan history, probably between B.C. 350 and B.C. 300. The painting is not executed on a prepared ground, but applied by some glutinous material, such as fig juice, to the marble itself. It has stood the test of time, and of the deleterious effect of the earth under which it has laid buried about 2,000 years, with marvellously little injury. The colour resembles that on. Athenian vases, which were painted on a white ground. The subject is taken from the combats of the Amazons with the Greeks. Beginning with the side on which the inscription on the cover is repeated with slight alterations on the sarcophagus itself, an Amazon is seen mounted on a splendid white charger, defending herself from the attacks of two warriors she raises her sword to strike the bearded warrior on her left he is clothed in armour, and with his spear in one hand, and protecting himself with his shield from the blow aimed at him, advances to the attack a singularly beautiful youth follows, and beyond him are two more groups, in one of which a Greek warrior on foot is slaying an Amazon who has fallen to the ground whilst in the last an Amazon mounted on a grey horse is fighting with another Greek. To the right of the central Amazon a youthful warrior attacks her with his sword behind him another young Hoplite is preparing to slay a fallen Amazon, and his hesitation and even sorrow at his own act, with her sad and supplicating look, are given with great truth and beauty. Not less marvellous for correct drawing, and perspective, is the foreshortened white horse on which is an Amazon armed with two spears, and fighting with a bearded warrior. She wears a lion’s skin, and her horse is richly ornamented with gold chains.
On the opposite side of the sarcophagus are represented two quadrige, or chariots drawn by four horses, which advance from either end the centre of the picture, where is the thick of the fight, is occupied by Greek soldiers. Beginning at the left end, a Greek has fallen beneath the horse’s feet and raises himself on his left arm a beardless youth tries to protect him with his shield. The four horses charge magnificently. One Amazon acts as charioteer, and protects herself with her shield whilst holding the reins the other, dressed in white, supports herself by the parapet of the chariot, whilst throwing her lance. Both wear gold earrings and other ornaments. At the farther extremity, a youth has fallen beneath the horses of the quadriga advancing from the right a warrior, who hastens to his aid, has plunged his spear into the neck of one of the horses, which nevertheless gallops forward gallantly with the rest. One of the Amazons, a most beautiful woman, leans forward eagerly, and draws her bow the other, who acts as charioteer, wears the red Phrygian cap. Both have earrings. At one end of the sarcophagus is a most spirited representation of a wounded soldier, attacked by the Amazons at the farther end, which is the most injured part, and less distinct, an Amazon appears to have fallen to the ground, whilst another defends her from the enemy. Description cannot convey the charm of these paintings, in which there is infinite variety as well as beauty of expression, both in the countenances and actions the life and movement of the figures, the careful drawing of the extremities, the attention to details, which are, however, kept in due subordinationeven the iron points of the handles of the spears for fixing them in the ground are not omittedthe costumes, the armour, the delicate gold ornaments, the floating draperies indicating rapid movement, the spirit thrown into the horses, and the soft, agreeable colour, all give a high idea of the skill and knowledge to which the Greek painter had attained. Beyond this is the poetry of thought which pervades the composition the chivalry and tenderness of feeling which reconciles the spectator to that which might otherwise appear unmanly in the male warrior or unwomanly in the female.
Around this room are many very interesting urns with reliefs of various legends, beginning from top to bottom, and again from the bottom upwardsa peculiar arrangement, in accordance with Greek tradition, as the ox draws the plough, which has here been adopted by Professor Milani. The small statues reclining on the urns, which probably contained the ashes of the dead, are in short proportions to fit the lid, and of a conventional type the reliefs below are generally in very superior art. The men wear garlands or coronals, and chains of a peculiar form round their necks, or twined in their head-dresses they have rings on their fingers, and hold a Patera or sacrificial cup sometimes they have a tablet or diptych in their hands the females are generally represented with a fan formed like a palm leaf, or with mirrors.
Turning to the left of the entrance, the reliefs are chiefly taken from the story of the Calydonian Boar Greek legend being introduced, as well as subjects which typify the journey of the soul to another world. No. 2 and No. 3 have the history of Theseus No. 4 and No. 5, Hippolytus, whose horses were terrified by a sea-monster sent by Poseidon, and as they ran away dragged him in his chariot till dead. From No. to to No. 18 are different representations of the story of Pelops and Hippodameia. Pelops bribed Myrtillus, the charioteer of his rival OEnomaus, to allow him to win the race for the hand of Hippodameia. In all these are typified the conflict, as well as the race or journey of life, towards a goal.
From No. 19 to No. 44 is the legend of Cadmus, who was commanded by the Oracle at Delphi to follow a cow, which led him to the spot where he built Thebes. He was about to sacrifice the cow to Athene, and went for water to a well be-longing to the god Ares, when he encountered a dragon, which he slew, and sowed its teeth in the ground, from which sprang up men who became the ancestors of the Thebans. His marriage was celebrated in the presence of the gods, and he presented his wife Harmonia with the famous Peplos, or veil. In the end Cadmus and Harmonia were changed into dragons. The story was symbolical of the migration of a race of warriors.
From No. 45 to No. 47 is the Theban legend of OEdipus, who was exposed at his birth and brought up by a shepherd, be-cause an oracle had informed his father Laius that he would perish by the hand of his child which oracle was fulfilled when OEdipus slew him in a fray without being aware who he was. When OEdipus became king of Thebes a series of calamities followed, which ended by his putting out his own eyes, and being expelled from the city.
From No. 48 to No. 67 the subjects are taken again from Thebes. The war in which the two sons of OEdipus, Eteocles and Polynices, quarrelled for their father’s kingdom is here represented. Polynices was supported by Adrastus, king of Argos, who was joined by five other heroes, forming the confederacy known as the Seven against Thebes. One of the most beautiful reliefs in this room is No. 64, in which Eteocles and Polynices have killed one another both sink to the ground, and the avenging Nemesis is seen above.
From No. 68 to No. 70 are incidents taken from the life of Paris of Troy No. 71 has the Rape of Helen and No. 72 to No. 75 the story of Telephus, the son of Hercules, who, when wounded by Achilles, was cured by the rust from his antagonist’s spear. From No. 76 to No. 78 is the story of the Sacrifice of Iphigenia and from No. 78 to No. 97 are other subjects relating to the Siege of Troy, such as Achilles pursuing Troilus, and the story of Patroclus on the relief, No. 86, he is carried to burial No. 82 to No. 86, Philoctetes is visited by Ulysses and Diomedes No. 87 and No. 88 represent the wooden horse by which Troy was taken. No. 89 has the story of Orestes No. 90 to No. 97 has scenes from the Odyssey : No. 97, Orestes and Iphigenia in Aulis, is one of the finest of the series. From No. 98 to No. 106 are all subjects of which the meaning has not yet been ascertained. The most peculiar is where the Orco, or Hobgoblin, in the shape of a Bear, is rising from a well.
National Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum houses Etruscan finds of great importance. Among others, the bronze statue "Chimera", which represents an animal partly lion, partly goat, partly snake, and was found in 1533 in Arezzo. Other highlights are the "Arringatore" (speakers), the "Minerva" and the urns made of terracotta and travertine from Volterra, as well as the Greek ceramic vases with black figures. The museum is well known for its large Egyptian collection, the second largest in Italy after Turin.
Until March 2019, there is a special exhibition named "L’Arte di donare. Nuove acquisizioni del Museo Archeologico Nazionale". The exhibition presents a collection of works of art and ancient craftsmanship. All works that further enrich the art collections that make the National Archaeological Museum of Florence the largest and most important archaeological museum in Italy to the north of Rome.
Opening hours National Archaeological Museum
Friday, Saturday and first Sunday of the month: 8:30 am - 2 pm
last entrance 45 min before closing
Tue – Fri: 8:30 am – 7 pm
Sat – Mon: 8:30 am – 2 pm
Closed: 1 January, 1 May, Christmas, every second, fourth and fifth Sunday of the month
Admission fee National Archaeological Museum
The regular admission fee to the National Archaeological Museum is:
Adult: 7 €
Reduced: 5 €
Get free entrance with your Florence City Pass because the ticket to the National Archaeological Museum is already included in your Florence tourist ticket.
Address National Archaeological Museum
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Special conditions of use National Archaeological Museum
With your admission ticket to the Uffizi Gallery/ your Florence City Pass, you will receive free admission to the National Archaeological Museum (valid for five days from the visit of the Uffizi).
Highlights National Archaeological Museum
- Bronze statue "Chimera"
- Large Egyptian collection
- Vase François
- Sarcophagus of the Amazons
- Greco-Roman Bronzetti
- Special exhibition (until March 2019): "L'Arte di donare: Nuove acquisizioni del Museo Archeologico Nazionale"
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Florence City Pass
Free admission to Florence's museums, attractions, and tours. Discounts included.