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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)
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.
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.
Cristofani M., Martelli M., L'Oro degli Etruschi, 1983, p. 166, n 143
Pair of earrings
Second half of the 6th century BC
Chiusi (?), Italy
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
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