This page aims to give a succinct but useful reference on Etruscan frescoes and tomb paintings. We include a series of pictures you may enlarge as well as a brief description of where such frescoes might be found. Some useful links for further reference are attached below. This is a link to the site about the Etruscans and Etruscan frescoes which I like best (www.mysteriousetruscans.com). It includes very good insights into the paintings and what they tell us of the culture behind they describe.
The most famous and startling Etruscan frescoes and tomb paintings are to be found approximately two or three kilometers from the city of Tarquinia (the area known as “Monterozzi”) in central Italy. Road signs are pretty clear and you can even arrange tours from the Museum at Tarquinia. There is much to see although you cannot actually “touch”: in more recent years the paintings have been sealed behind glass as the environmental change caused by the many visitors was actually causing the paintings to deteriorate (fungus growth).
If you are interested in going to visit whilst keeping control of your budget you might go to our private apartment at Montalto di Castro or Valentano as you can easily reach Vulci, Tarquinia and Cerveteri. Vulci is about a 15minute drive, Tarquinia less than 30mins and Cerveteri 45mins.
This etruscan fresco painting is significant because of its manipulation of scale. The birds and fish in the painting are given importance through the scale they are shown at with respect to the etruscan fishermen who hunt them. The birds in particular add a fantastic sense of movement and space to the whole scene. A stricter use of scale may be seen in the painting of the horseman below right:
The ancient Etruscans learned much from the Greeks in terms of painting and fresco. This painter of this fresco makes particularly good use of the folds and drapery of the clothing to give a stronger illusion of form.
This fresco painting shows us how the etruscans were lovers of fighting as a form of entertainment.
This fresco presumably of an etruscan horseman has been interpreted by some as being Achilles. An alternative is that it is likening the tomb’s inhabitant to the mythological hero.
The vivid colours painted onto what are mere kitchen utensils sculpted on a column gives an idea of the love of colour and its power to give “life”. Similar use of colour is to be found on some sarcophagus lids (which had sculptures of their inhabitants on them). This is at Cerveteri