Description Cistae were containers used to safeguard precious objects, including mirrors, perfume flasks, and cosmetics. A particular type of cista was made during the 4th to 3rd centuries BC in Praeneste, a site in Latium (the region around Rome) that was heavily influenced by Etruscan culture. The elaborately engraved scenes are thought to imitate famous, but now lost, Greek wall-paintings. The ancient metalworker often pressed a white substance into the engraved lines in order to accentuate the decoration. The handles commonly take the form of human figures. Many artists in other early Italian cultures similarly incorporated figures of humans in functional objects. The body of this cista is decorated with scenes from the most notorious love story of ancient times, that of Helen of Troy and Paris. On the right side, Helen is presented to Paris. Following which, on the front, he carries her off to his waiting chariot. On the lid, two flying figures carry ribbons to crown the pair. The handle consists of a satyr and a maenad (followers of the wine-god Dionysus) with arms intertwined. Lions stand atop the vessel's clawed feet.
- The Allure of Bronze. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1995.
Provenance Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902
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