AN ETRUSCAN BRONZE APPLIQUÉ OF THE SUN GOD USIL
THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
AN ETRUSCAN BRONZE APPLIQUÉ OF THE SUN GOD USIL

CIRCA 500-475 B.C.

Details
AN ETRUSCAN BRONZE APPLIQUÉ OF THE SUN GOD USIL
CIRCA 500-475 B.C.
7 7/8 in. (20 cm.) high
Provenance
Acquired by Mme Bonneau-Arfa, prior to 1968.
The property of Mme Sylvie Bonneau-Arfa: Antiquities, Sotheby's, London, 13 July 1970, lot 166 (unsold).
Thence by descent to the present owner.

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Laetitia Delaloye
Laetitia Delaloye

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Lot Essay

The rayed nimbus surrounding the head of this imposing winged youth indicates that this figure represents the Etruscan sun god Usil. As with his Greek counterpart Helios, he was responsible for moving the sun across the sky on his flying chariot, day after day. The un-worked flat back of the figure, the projecting hollow section at the centre and the presence of attachment pins would suggest its use as a decoration on a wooden object, most likely a chariot.

There are four other known comparable pieces, all thought to date to the very beginning of the 5th century B.C. and possibly produced in the wealthy city of Vulci in southern Etruria. Two are part of the Castellani collection now in the Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome, cf. M. Pallottino, Studi Etruschi, no. 13, 1939, p. 434, pl. 33 and M. Moretti at al., Kunst und Land der Etrusker, Zurich, 1969, fig. 104 (top). Another example is now in the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco in the Vatican Museums and another in the Hermitage, cf. S. Hynes, Etruscan Bronzes, New York, 1985, p. 173, nos 81 and 82.

Of the five pieces surviving from this group, this is the only one in private hands and the best preserved.

A bronze cista foot in the shape of a winged youth emerging from the sea, also thought to be representing the god Usil, was sold at Christie's, New York on the 16 June 2006, lot 218.

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