The J. Paul Getty Museum

Appliqué depicting the Sun God Usil

Object Details


Appliqué depicting the Sun God Usil






Vulci, Italy (Place Created)


500–475 B.C.



Object Number:



20.7 × 16.5 cm, 1340 g (8 1/8 × 6 1/2 in., 2.9542 lb.)

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Object Description

A bronze appliqué in low relief represents the solar deity Usil, the equivalent of Helios/Sol in Greek and Roman religion. On this figure, the radiate crown behind his head and spreading wings identify the god. Usil wears a diadem, necklace, and a mantle over his shoulders, which falls to either side in pleated folds. Nude from the groin up, he has disproportionately long arms and large hands. At the top of the thighs the figure merges into a broad plate decorated with undulating lines indicating the waves from which the sun god emerges and sinks at daybreak and dusk. A projecting lug is hollow behind to accommodate a wood or metal structure, to which the relief was attached by three pairs of rivets. The rare examples of Usil appliqués are associated with burials, which often held grave offerings of funerary carts and chariots. Driven in ceremonial processions, elaborate wood vehicles were covered with sheet bronze repoussé and fitted with cast animal-head protomes. Figural reliefs such as this are interpreted as decorative attachments on the sideboards, used to cover structural elements of the vehicle.

by 1968 - 1980

Sylvie Bonneau-Arfa, 1906 - 1980, by inheritance to her heirs, 1980.

1980 - 2017

Heirs of Sylvie Bonneau-Arfa, 1906 - 1980 [sold, Christie's, London, December 6, 2017, lot 43, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]


Sotheby's, London. Sale cat., July 13, 1970, lot 166, ill.

Sotheby's, London, advertisement. "Front Matter." Burlington Magazine 112, no. 807 (June 1970) , lxxxv, ill.

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Jucker, Hans. “Ein klassisch-etruskischer Griffspiegel met Thesan und Menrun.” In Studies in Classical Art and Archaeology: A Tribute to Peter Heinrich von Blanckenhagen, G. Kopcke and M. B. Moore, eds. (Locust Valley, N.Y.: J. J. Augustin, 1979), p. 61.

Haynes, Sybille. Etruscan Bronzes. (New York: Sotheby's Publications: Harper and Row, 1985), p. 276.

Krauskopf, Ingrid. "Helios/Usil." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae V Addenda (1990), p. 1041, no. 13e.

Buranelli, F. “Gli scavi di Vulci (1828–1854) di Luciano Bonaparte ed Alexandrine Bonaparte, Principi di Canino.” In Luciano Bonaparte: le sue collezioni d'arte, le sue residenze a Roma, nel Lazio..., Marina Natoli, ed. (Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1995), pp. 106, 112.

Emiliozzi, Adriana. Carri da guerra e principi etruschi : catalogo della mostra: Viterbo, Palazzo dei Papi, 24 maggio 1997-31 gennaio 1998. (Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1997), p. 90n20.

Christie's, London. Antiquities. Sale cat., December 6, 2017, lot 43, ill.

Lyons, Claire L. "New Etruscan Gallery premieres at the Getty Villa." Etruscan News 20 (Winter 2018), pp. 1, 16, fig. 1, ill.

"Acquisitions: Etruscan bronze plaque." The Art Newspaper (March, 2018), p. 30, ill.