CHAPTER IV
TOMB FRESCOES

WE penetrate into the tombs excavated in the limestone, and from the shadows called forth by the lamp, spring out suddenly full of life many-coloured moving figures painted on the surrounding walls. They seem to constitute a magical apparition from beyond the tomb of the serene, joyous life of the Etruscans, and nowhere else in any other Etruscan necropolis, as in these hypogea sacred to death, does one feel oneself so closely in contact with the life of the glorious vanished people, who seem, through the kindly illusion of our sense of sight, to be pulsating in full vitality.'1 So writes Ducati of the tombs at Tarquinia.

Most of the burial-places having frescoed walls are in Tarquinia, Chiusi, Orvieto, and Veii. There are a few traces elsewhere, but one may suspect that preference for this kind of decoration was localized as well as extremely persistent. Many of the tombs which fortunately were described by Dennis with much amplitude of language and which were copied in line or colour by several investigators are now lost or ruined. The Etruscan student should endeavour to visit as many as possible of those which are on view; a moderate amount of foresight and inquiry will usually secure an entry.

The technique employed in the paintings does not vary much. Generally the rock surface is coated with stucco and then frescoed; in one or two cases distemper

____________________
1
Etruria Antica, Part I, p. 19

-48-

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