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 intertwined forms of these wrestling youths create a lively and complex handle for this cista. The disproportionately large heads and oversized facial features are typically Etruscan.
- Man: Glory, Jest, and Riddle, A Survey of the Human Form Through the Ages. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco. 1964-1965.
Provenance W. H. Forman Collection Sale, London, 1899, no. 141; Henry Walters, Baltimore, [date of acquisition unknown] by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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