Cultures of the Mediterranean

Enócoa corinthian with lidMuseu Nacional


The Greco-Roman Collection of the National Museum is a result of the Empress Teresa Cristina Maria’s fascination with archeology, as well as her strong determination. Married by proxy to D. Pedro II in 1843, the same year in which the Infantry of Bourbon and Sicily arrived in Brazil, bringing in their baggage, out of personal initiative, recuperated pieces from the excavations promoted in Herculaneum and Pompeii, all of which nurtured an interest in the Empress from very a young age. Some of these pieces were part of the Queen Carolina Murat collection, Napoleon Bonaparte's sister and wife of the King of Naples. CONTINUE ---►

Tripod vase with masking appliquesMuseu Nacional

---► Her brother, King Ferdinand II, continued the excavations that had begun in the 18th Century in both cities, and Teresa Cristina Maria conducted excavations in Veii, an Etruscan site 15 km to the North of Rome. The recuperated pieces nourished the Bourbon Museum, in Naples. Decided to grow the Italian presence in Brazil through formal exchanges, as well as in considering the creation of a Roman archeology museum here, the Empress asked Ferdinand II for new pieces, while she was she simultaneously sending indigenous art pieces to Italy. The largest part of this Greco-Roman collection arrived in Brazil between 1853 and 1859, but continued to be enhanced until the Empress left the country in 1889, when it passed to the custody of the National Museum. The collection is composed, today, of circa 700 pieces.

Enocoa ítalo-protocoríntiaMuseu Nacional

Oenochoe Italo-Corinthian

Vase characteristic of Corinthian potters that settled in Magna Greacia.

Flasks of quadrangular formMuseu Nacional

Square-shaped vases

Green glass

Chalice with cariátidesMuseu Nacional

Chalice with caryatids

Black ceramics (bucchero nero).

Chalice assembled over four supports in the shape of caryatids, in Eastern style. The piece is part of the Empress Teresa Cristina's findings from the excavations that she executed in the Etruscan site of Veii.

Naked torsoMuseu Nacional

Naked Torso

Representation of Venus found in excavations executed in 1853. The position of the goddess, standing up, suggests that it is a representation of the myth of Leda and the Swan. Venus — a central figure of the Roman pantheon — is the goddess of love, of fertility, of beauty, protectress of lovers and travelers. She defended both public and private interests, of men and women, of the young and the old. She usually appears accompanied by her attributes: an apple, a pomegranate, a sandalwood, a dolphin, and a pigeon. Venus and her Greek correspondent, Aphrodite, are usually represented naked or semi-naked.

Tripod vase with masking appliquesMuseu Nacional

Tripod vase with mask appliques

The glass possesses physical particularities that permit procedures impossible to be executed in clay or metal. Roman artisans explored this quality to its maximum. Besides the blown flasks, there were also those made with the aid of molds.

Crater in chalice, italiotaMuseu Nacional

Chalice crater, Italiote


The scene represents the combat between the two warriors Etéocle and Polinice. A bird between the two carried a band (taenia) of victory. On the left, a woman sitting down holds a tray of offerings. In the top decoration, a frontal female face is surrounded by a gryphon and a panther.

Crater in bell, italiotaMuseu Nacional

Bell crater


The scene represents three women holding arks of offerings, a bunch of grapes, and a wreath of flower. The central figure is seated over a pile of stones.

Enócoa corinthian with lidMuseu Nacional

Corinthian oenochoe with lid

Corinthian ceramics.

The oenochoe is a jar with a single handle, used to serve wine from the crater to the goblets. The bowl was covered with floral motifs and representations of animals: lions, owls, goats, panthers, and swans.

Twin bottle with two handlesMuseu Nacional

Germinated flask with two handles

Askós ítalo-protocoríntio ring-shapedMuseu Nacional

Italo-Corinthian Askos in ring shape

The Askos is a type of vase used to mix and purify oils

Etruscan WarriorMuseu Nacional

Etruscan warrior


Schematic figure of a warrior standing up, carrying a helmet. His legs are far apart, with his body weight leaning on one of them, in an attitude of attack.

Mirror CablesMuseu Nacional

Mirror cables


The mirrors on the right represent a Kouros of Ionic style, 6th Century A.D. Very frequent in funerary contexts, the mirrors were buried not only with women, but also with men, also appearing in steles and in tomb paintings. The reflecting disks, absent in these exemplars, were frequently adorned with mythological scenes.

Headless female sculptureMuseu Nacional

Female sculpture without head.

White and pink marble.

The piece portrayed is a statuette of kore in archaic style, possibly a copy of the Roman epoch. The standing female figure wears a long draped tunic, raised delicately with both hands. The skilled sculptor that produced it made use of the contrast between the body, made of white marble, and the feet, made of pink marble, as well as the head, now disappeared and probably also made out of the same material, with the intention of representing the human skin. It belongs to the set of objects that was found in a tomb during excavations that were conducted in Veii, in 1853.

Credits: Story

Alexander Wilhelm Armin Kellner

Cristiana Silveira Serejo

Wagner William Martins
Lygia Dolores Ribeiro de Santiago Fernandes
Luiz Fernando Duarte

Antonio Ricardo Pereira de Andrade
Valéria Maria Fonseca de Lima
Marci Fileti Martins
Lydia Maria Gomes da Silva
Lorrana Gonçalves de Alcântara
Déborah Rezende Gouvêa
Christina Aparecida de Lélis

Rômulo Fialdini
Valentino Fialdini

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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