The Italian Almanac

winged horses

Italian Art - July 22

The winged horses of Tarquinia, one of the world's most famous ancient sculptures and the most significant from the Etruscan era, have returned home after being restored.

The horses have only left this town northwest of Rome on three occasions: the world's first major exhibition on Etruscan civilisation in 1955 in Zurich, a Milan show in the 1990s, and the Italian Culture Ministry's Culture Week two months ago. After a year-long restoration which uncovered traces of original color they have been put on permanent display at the National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia.

The work of art was found shattered into more than 100 shards by archaeologist Pietro Romanelli in 1938, during excavation work on the Civita of Tarquinia, where the ancient Etruscan city of Civita used to be. They were placed according to the Etruscan style at the head of one of the temple's main frontal supporting beams.

The winged horses once pulled a two-wheeled chariot mounted by a god to whom the temple is believed to have been dedicated. The chariot, which decorated an adjacent panel, has been lost. The colored sculpture was clearly made by an Etruscan master.