Etruscan Art

Etruscan art was heavily influenced by Greek art, which was imported by the Etruscans, but always retained distinct characteristics. Particularly strong in this tradition were figurative sculpture in terracotta, wall-painting and metalworking especially in bronze.


The Etruscans were very accomplished sculptors, with many surviving examples in terracotta, both small-scale and monumental.

Sarcophagus of the Spouses from Villa Giulia in Rome.jpg
Sarcophagus of the Spouses from Caere. National Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia, Rome. (c) Sailko


The Etruscan frescoes that survive are almost all wall from tombs, mainly located in Tarquinia, and dating from roughly 670 BC to 200 BC.

Confronted leopards above a banqueting scene in the Tomb of the Leopards, c. 480–450 BC.

The Etruscan tombs, which housed the remains of whole lineages, were apparently sites for recurrent family rituals, and the subjects of paintings probably have a more religious character than might at first appear.


Etruscan vase painting was produced from the 7th-4th c. BC, and is a major element in Etruscan art. It was strongly influenced by Greek vase painting, followed the main trends in style, especially those of Athens, over the period, but lagging behind by some decades.

A youth mounted on a dolphin and playing the flute; stamnosc. 360-340 BC. (c) Luis Garcia

More fully characteristic of Etruscan ceramic art are the burnished, unglazed bucchero terracotta wares, rendered black in a reducing kiln deprived of oxygen. This was an Etruscan development based on the pottery techniques of the Villanovan period.


The Etruscans had a strong tradition of working in bronze from very early times, and their small bronzes were widely exported. Apart from cast bronze, the Etruscans were also skilled at the engraving of cast pieces with complex linear images, whose lines were filled with a white material to highlight them.

Monteleone chariot unearthed in Perugia, c. 530 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Monteleone chariot is one of the finest examples of large bronzework and is the best-preserved and most complete of the surviving works.

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