Go to content Go to navigation Go to search Change language

Home>Collection & Louvre Palace>Curatorial Departments>Pair of earrings

Work Pair of earrings

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Pair of earrings

© 1983 RMN / Gérard Blot / Christian Jean

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

The fantastical design and technical virtuosity of these small barrel-shaped earrings testify to the refinement and wealth of Etruscan civilization during the Archaic period. Etruscan goldsmiths had long excelled in the use of techniques, such as filigree and graining, imported from the Near East. The earrings are decorated with repoussé bulls' heads, and geometric and plant motifs executed using fine gold threads and beads.

The Archaic period: a golden age of Etruscan metalwork

This pair of earrings was purchased by the Louvre as part of the collection of the Marquis of Campana in 1863. Jewelry of this type was in widespread use in the second half of the 6th century BC, when Etruscan civilization flourished. Richly decorated gold items such as these have been found in numerous sepulchers; the exact origin of the present items is difficult to ascertain due to a lack of contextual archaeological evidence. They may have been made in Chiusi, in inland Etruria.

Decorative fantasy

The diverse motifs decorating this pair of small, barrel-shaped gold earrings testify to the creativity, originality, and imagination of Etruscan goldsmiths. Their surface is divided into two compartments marked by filigree threads. One side (the "reverse," worn at the back) is decorated with palmettes and a rosette with lanceolated petals, while the front is decorated with spheres covered with fine graining, fruit, embossed, and repoussé plant motifs, and two protomes of bulls' heads.

The technical virtuosity of Etruscan goldsmiths

The earrings' refined decoration owes much to the technical accomplishments of the goldsmiths of the period. Techniques imported from the Near East during the Orientalizing period in the 7th century BC were quickly mastered by the Etruscans. The use of graining and filigree, in particular, enabled them to achieve remarkable effects of relief and chiaroscuro, capitalizing on the play of light across areas dotted with miniscule gold granules, and on fine gold threads used to outline and highlight the various motifs. The resulting details are remarkably fine and precise, despite the earrings' small size.

Bibliography

Cristofani M., Martelli M., L'Oro degli Etruschi, 1983, p. 166, n 143

Technical description

  • Pair of earrings

    Second half of the 6th century BC

    Chiusi (?), Italy

    Etruria

  • Hammered gold leaf with cut-out, grained, stamped, repoussé, and filigree decoration

    Diam. 1.92 cm; L. 1.85cm and 1.87 cm

  • Purchased 1861, former Campana collection

    Bj 253, Bj 254

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Ground floor
    Etruria II
    Room 19

Practical information

The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays
 
Closed on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25
 
Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris - France
Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7)
Tel.: +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17
 

Buy tickets