The art of copying

Watercolours of Etruscan tomb paintings from the turn of the century 1900


The Art of copying is an exhibition of 25 watercolours executed between 1897-1910 in a project led by Italian painter Alessandro Morani. The watercolours depict paintings in Etruscan tombs from the 7th to 3rd centuries BCE.

The paintings in the exhibition is a selection from a larger collection of watercolours and tracings acquired by the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome in 1945.

The exhibition The Art of Copying is a collaboration with The Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome and Italian Cultural Institute Stockholm.

The duration of the exhibition is 1 February to 2 June 2019.

The wealthiest Etruscan tombs were sometimes decorated with paintings. These could depict scenes of daily life or the passage to the after-life. Their function was to aid the passage to the after world. The images offer a unique insight into the remarkable culture of the Etruscans, and their views on life and death.

Many tombs were excavated during the 19th century. Some paintings were already then in poor condition. Artists executed extensive copying around the turn of the century 1900. This documentation, performed with high technical and artistic quality, is a unique material showing the tombs in their actual state. The watercolours were made as preparatory materials for full scale copies of the paintings for the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen.

These copies are still important, since many original paintings today are partly or completely lost. Since 2004, the Etruscan necropolises of Tarquinia and Cerveteri are included on UNESCO:s World Heritage List.