About this artwork
With a bent-knee pose that connotes rapid movement, the Etruscan sun god Usil dashes across breaking waves, borne aloft by wings on his back and boots. Except for his footgear, he is nude. His arms extend away from his muscular body, which twists at the waist to face forward. This splendid figure was cast in one piece together with its support, which comprises stylized waves above a beaded band and a flat Ionic capital that tapers down to the paw of a feline creature that has unusually thick, fleshy pads.
With locally abundant sources of copper and modest amounts of tin, Etruscan metalsmiths excelled in fashioning a variety of beautiful bronze objects, including lamp stands, incense burners, mirrors, vessels, and containers. This remarkable object was one of three identical feet supporting a cista, or lidded chest, typically used by women to store their cosmetics and toiletries. The body of the chest was fashioned from a sheet of hammered bronze, and it was probably incised with intricate illustrations of mythological or other scenes. That part is now lost; only the solid-cast feet that once supported it survive. Its now-missing lid likely had an equally exquisite figural handle that would also have been solid cast.
- Ancient Etruscan
- Foot of a Cista (Storage Box)
- 500 BC–450 BC
- 15.6 × 10.4 × 5.4 cm (6 1/8 × 4 1/8 × 2 1/8 in.)
- Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund