Part of National Museums Liverpool
Villanovan and Etruscan Collection:
Joseph Mayer's pre-Roman Italian collection was presented to the museum in 1867 and its importance has been recognised for many years. Jewellery and personal ornaments make up a third of the collection of 250 items, which include high quality pieces and unusual items such as two human teeth in a gold mount. About half of the collection is metalwork, such as bronze hand-mirrors with engravings of individuals and groups of Etruscan myth and legend.
Over the last two years we have been preparing some of our collections of Roman sculpture for the exhibition, ‘Age of Reason’ at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
Author: MacIntosh Turfa, Jean and Muskett, Georgina
Publisher: Archaeopress Publishing Ltd
Description: One of the finest collections of Etruscan artifacts outside of Italy was begun in the 19th century by Joseph Mayer, goldsmith, of Liverpool. His donation of the collection became the core of Liverpool Museum, now World Museum, and has been augmented over the years by additional gifts and other acquisitions, such as those from the Wellcome Collection and Norwich Castle Museum. Much of the original material came from the necropolis of Vulci (Canino) when it was excavated by Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino, while additional objects represent several other cities and sites. Already famous for its gold jewellery and bronze vessels of the 6th to 4th centuries BCE, the Liverpool collection includes a fine selection of Etruscan vases, especially bucchero ware and Archaic painted vases, several scarab seals in semiprecious stones, a small number of carved ivories, and funerary urns, including that of Larui Helesa, in which were found gold earrings identical to those worn by her colourful effigy on its lid. A large group of bronze fibulae (safety-pins) furnish examples of most major types of those important ornaments of the Iron Age and Archaic periods. Engraved bronze mirrors and terracotta votives in the form of heads and body parts (such as uteri) of the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE illustrate myths and offerings that were essential to Etruscan religion. From a Villanovan sword to Hellenistic epitaphs, the Liverpool Etruscan and Italian collection offers a rare glimpse of early civilization in central Italy.
Author: Gatty, C T
Description: Article within the Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire.
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