Sarcophagus of the Spouses

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Sarcophagus of the Spouses
Banditaccia Sarcofago Degli Sposi.jpg
Year late 6th century BC
Type Terracotta
Dimensions 1.14 m × 1.9 m (3.7 ft × 6.2 ft)
Location National Etruscan Museum, Rome

The Sarcophagus of the Spouses (Italian: Sarcofago degli Sposi) is a late 6th century BC Etruscan anthropoid sarcophagus, actually exhibited in the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, Rome. It is 1.14 m high by 1.9 m wide, and is made of terracotta which was once brightly painted.[1] It depicts a married couple reclining at a banquet together in the afterlife and was found in 19th century excavations at the necropolis of Cerveteri (ancient Caere). The portrayal of a married couple sharing a banqueting couch is uniquely Etruscan; in contrast, Greek vases depicting banquet scenes reflect the custom that only men attended dinner parties.[1][2]

The smiling faces with their almond-shaped eyes and long braided hair, as well as the shape of the feet of the bed, reveal Greek influence. However, the marked contrast between the high relief busts and the very flattened legs is typically Etruscan. "The Etruscan artist's interest focused on the upper half of the figures, especially on the vibrant faces and gesticulating arms."[1]

A similar sarcophagus, also from Cerveteri, is housed in the Louvre in Paris (Cp 5194).


  1. ^ a b c Kleiner, Fred S. (2010). A History of Roman Art, Enhanced Edition, p. xxxi. Wadsworth, Cenage Learning.
  2. ^ Fred Kleiner (8 January 2009). Gardner's Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Cengage Learning. pp. 179–. ISBN 0-495-57360-4.