Etruscan Italy

Etruscan Italy

Etruscan Italy

Etruscan Italy

Excerpt

THE MYSTERY of the Etruscans--who they were, where they came from--has been the subject of discussion and controversy since the time of Herodotus, and all the efforts of the historians and the archaeologists have not, so far, brought us within sight of an agreed answer.

For thirty years I had been interested in the Etruscans. Books on their civilisation and their art stood closely packed on my shelves; but in spite of all this accumulated knowledge, and in spite of all my discussions with knowledgeable friends, the mystery remained. There were theories in plenty, but none of them brought the Etruscans any closer to me: still they remained in the shadows.

And then I visited, within a few months of each other, the two remarkable exhibitions of Etruscan art at Milan and Paris in 1955; it was a revelation. Clearly a people which could produce such a wealth and variety of beautiful objects, which could fashion with such passionate sincerity these portraits, these urns, these tombs, and these articles in gold and bronze, must have had qualities out of the ordinary and a distinctive genius of its own.

The beauty of the exhibits at Milan and Paris was only a foretaste of the wealth which still remained to be discovered. There was too much for a superficial study; but there was not enough to satisfy anyone who, like myself, wanted to pursue the matter further. I had seen something of the Etruscan achievement at Milan and Paris, and on previous visits to Italy . . .

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