Thursday, April 5, 2012

Theresa H. ('02) Receives Etruscan Foundation Research Fellowship and the Bothmer Predoctoral Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This spring I was recipient of both the Etruscan Foundation Research Fellowship, intended to fund the work of advanced PhD students and junior faculty in Etruscan art and archaeology, as well as the Bothmer Predoctoral Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an academic year in-residence fellowship where I will be working with Dr. Carlos Picon, Curator of Greek and Roman Art, to study the objects relating to my dissertation in their collection, as well as their other Etruscan holdings.

My dissertation is entitled "Eternal Personae: Chiusine Cinerary Urns and the Construction of Etruscan Identity." My project is a cross-collection study of Hellenistic period Etruscan cinerary urns produced at the site of Chiusi. The urns are made of terracotta or stone and are composed of a cask, usually decorated with mythological relief scenes, as well as the name of the deceased, and the lid which bears a three-dimensional effigy of the deceased either in a banqueting posture or a fully recumbent pose. There has yet to be a systematic study of the sculpted, figural lids, and I also seek to redefine the Etruscan conception of portraiture and identity as it has been discussed in previous scholarship. Rather than a simple reflection of physical appearance, I argue that the Etruscan mortuary “portrait” was performative, a collection of mutually affirming social indicators that reflected familial relationships, prestige derived from participation in elite banqueting customs, and the need for the deceased to maintain agency in the afterlife through the lid figure, an animated funerary effigy.

An urn at the British Museum.

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