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After almost half a century, Piedmont opens a major exhibition dedicated to the Etruscans.
This is an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy a fine selection of Greek and Etruscan objects loaned by the Vatican museums and top Italian collections. The choice of Asti was not accidental and for the first time the city is showing a bronze Villanovan crested helmet that was hidden for centuries in the waters of the Tanaro and brought to light at the end of the 19th century. The helmet symbolizes the first contact between the Etruscans and the Tanaro valley community, and is the starting point for exploring the most far-reaching relations between the Greek and Eastern Mediterranean and the Etruscan West. The exhibition comprises two areas, connected by a fascinating pathway through the terracotta basement vaults of Palazzo Mazzetti.
The first section describes the spread of the heroic ideal and “Homeric” traditions in Etruria, through a series of themes that characterize the historic stages of Etruscan civilization: trade, hoplites, athletes, tradition, care of the body.
Elegant 19th-century temperas faithfully reproduce two of Tarquinia’s most representative painted tombs – “delle Bighe” and “Triclinio” –, allowing visitors to relive the atmosphere of athletic games and ceremonies held in honour of deceased nobles.
The second part of the exhibition opens with the banquet, in its various depictions, documented by priceless services, furnishings, and eloquent paintings and sculptures. The theme is illustrated by the recomposition of an original painted chamber tomb (“della Scrofa nera”, whose paintings were detached from the underground tomb to safeguard them), with a lively convivial scene dated 5th century BC.
For the first time the remarkable Tuscania Vipinana sarcophagus will be reassembled for display, with its lid image of the deceased feasting and the depiction of the Niobides myth on the base.
The section closes with an impressive collection of Etruscan images composed of votive heads from the sanctuaries, with a succession of types, from a babe in arms to an old man, and even two grotesque faces of great emotional intensity, on loan for the frist time and specially for this occasion from the Vatican Museums.
The exhibition closes with a rarity and a return to Piedmont: the luxurious “Etruscan” cabinet from Racconigi Castle, commissioned by King Charles Albert from the artistic genius Pelagio Palagi. For the first time, all the original sketches, furniture and decorations of the neoclassical studio that was a tribute to the relationship between the Etruscans and the Savoy family, and that Etruscan-style artistic spread in Europe in the 1700 – 1800s, are on show together.
The exhibition is promoted by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Asti, in collaboration with the Vatican Museums, with the support of Piedmont Regional Authority, coordinated by Civita. The exhibition, curated by Alessandro Mandolesi and Maurizio Sannibale, boasts significant loans from important museums and Italian cultural institutions.