Arte etrusca

c.480 BC


Solid-cast bronze, 17.5 x 6cm

This bronze is the only known surviving representation of the divinity Fufluns, the Etruscan equivalent to the Greek god Dionysus. The figure is of an aged man with a pointed bushy beard, a long garment and an embroidered robe. He steps forward with his left leg, his left arm bent at the elbow to hold out an object (possibly a Kantharos drinking receptacle).

The iconographic scheme is rooted in ancient Greek art, models of which were widely dispersed on the Attic black-figure vases sold in the Greek colonies and Etruria. 

The plastic rendering of the body and the engraved detail that defines the folds of the garment places this bronze amongst examples of small-scale sculpturemade between the end of the sixth and the beginning of the fifth centuries BC in northern Etruria.

It shows great stylistic resonance with the representation of another divinity, Tinia, the Etruscan equivalent to the Greek god Zeus. This bronze was found in the Etruscan city of Populonia and is now in the Paul Getty Museum in Malibu.

Like the previous exemplar (inv. 12014) this Estense bronze was part of the Tommaso Obizzi collections that were left by inheritance to the Este Dukes in 1805. It eventually entered the national collections at the Galleria Estense di Modena after the Unification of Italy.