The art of the Etruscans, who flourished in central Italy between the 8th and 3rd century BCE, is renowned for its vitality and often vivid colouring. Wall paintings were especially vibrant and frequently capture scenes of Etruscans enjoying themselves at parties and banquets. Terracotta additions to buildings were another Etruscan speciality, as were carved bronze mirrors and fine figure sculpture in bronze and terracotta. Minor arts are perhaps best represented by intricate gold jewellery pieces and the distinctive black pottery known as bucchero whose shapes like the kantharos cup would inspire Greek potters.
The identification of what exactly is Etruscan art – a difficult enough question for any culture – is made more complicated by the fact that Etruria was never a single unified state but was, rather, a collection of independent city-states who formed both alliances and rivalries with each other over time. These cities, although culturally very similar, nevertheless produced artworks according to their own particular tastes and whims. Another difficulty is presented by the consequences of the Etruscans not living in isolation from other Mediterranean cultures. Ideas and art objects from Greece, Phoenicia, and the East reached Etruria via the long-established trade networks of the ancient Mediterranean. Greek artists also settled in Etruria from the 7th century BCE onwards and many works of Etruscan art are signed by artists with Greek names. Geography played its part, too, with coastal cities like Cerveteri due to their greater access to sea trade, being much more cosmopolitan in population and artistic outlook than more inland cities like Chiusi.