The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
European; Southern European; Etruscan
Etruria (anc.), Italy Europe,Italy,Etruria (region),Etruria (anc.)
Archaic Period, 470/50 B.C.
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
The mirror was cast of solid bronze and then polished. The obverse, or original reflecting side, is decorated with a series of volutes engraved just above the tang, an extension that once held a now missing handle of bone or ivory. The reverse, or non-reflecting side, is elaborately engraved with a scene that depicts the death of the hero Memnon. According to Greek legends, Memnon was the son of Eos, goddess of the dawn, and Tithonos, brother of King Priam of Troy. The king of Ethiopia and an ally of theTrojans in their war against the Greeks, Memnon was killed by Achilles, another product of a divine mother (Thetis) and a mortal father (Peleus). The mirror shows Eos (whom the Etruscans called Thesan) holding the body of her dead son. She stands on an elegant ground line below which is engraved a pair of volutes. Ivy frames the entire scene. Eos wears voluminous drapery and has intricately engraved wings. Her nude son drops his helmet and sword.
Europe,Italy,Lazio (region),Viterbo (province),Vulci
Diam.: 15.2 cm (6 in.); H.: 16.9 cm (6-5/8 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, Katherine K. Adler Endowment
Etruscan, probably from Vulci. The popularity of this particular subject on Etruscan mirrors at this time may be due to the fact that many women, the owners of these objects, had lost sons in a series of wars. They may have found solace in knowing that even a goddess had suffered an identical loss. The workshop that made this mirror was probably located in the ancient city of Vulci, a major center of bronze production.
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