The J. Paul Getty Museum

Votive Statuette

Object Details


Votive Statuette






Etruria (Place Created)


300–200 B.C.



Object Number:



21.6 × 13.2 × 7.5 cm (8 1/2 × 5 3/16 × 2 15/16 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

This statuette represents a male torso with an incision from the breast bone to the abdomen that exposes the internal organs. The dedicator perhaps suffered from stomach or intestinal problems. The model is a schematic version of the human anatomy rather than an exact replica, but the relative placement, size, and shape of organs is generally correct. Such medical knowledge of internal anatomy may have been gained from the observation of butchered animals or mortally wounded warriors on the battlefield.

In Etruscan religion, like most ancient religions, the gods acted directly upon human affairs. Therefore, it was necessary to supplicate them with offerings and dedications. Beginning in the late 500s B.C. in Greece and then spreading to Etruria in the 300s, worshippers with physical ailments visited sanctuaries and appeased the gods with small terracotta models of the afflicted body part. Clay images of eyes, breasts, limbs and their extremities, and other body parts were the most frequent offerings, outnumbering other kinds of votives. Most anatomical torsos, which were exclusive to the Etruscan and Italic cultures, are found in Veii, Vulci, Lake Nemi, and Tessenano. These devotional models were presented with a prayer, which was either a request for healing, or a post-cure expression of gratitude.


- 1973

Galerie Arete, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1973.


Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 41.

Smithers, Stephen. "Images of Piety and Hope: Select Terracotta Votives from West-Central Italy," Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum 1. Occasional Papers on Antiquities 8 (1993). pp. 13-32, p. 14; fig. 1.

Spivey, Nigel and Squire, Michael. Panorama of the Classical World (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2004), p. 95, fig. 152.

Recke, Matthias and Waltrud Wamser-Krasznai. Kultische Anatomie: Etruskische Körperteil-Votive aus der Antikensammlung der Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen (Stiftung Ludwig Stieda) (Ingolstadt: Dt. Medizinhistorisc hes Museum, 2008), pp. 136, fig. 57.

Turfa, Jean. "Exceptional Etruscan man joins the Louvre." Etruscan News 14 (Winter 2012), p. 23, ill.

Haumesser, Laurent. Archaeologie et anatomie: un buste votif etrusque au musee du Louvre. La Revue Des Musees De France: Revue Du Louvre. Paris: Reunion du Conseil scientifique des musees nationaux, Decembre 2013, pp. 16-23, figs. 13-14.

Oberhelman, Steven M. "Anatomical Votive Reliefs as Evidence for Specialization at Healing Sanctuaries in the Ancient Mediterranean World." Athens Journal of Health 1, no. 1 (March 2014), p. 60, fig. 10 [not credited].

Sofroniew, Alexandra. Household Gods: Private Devotion in Ancient Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), pp. 102-3, fig. 53.

Haumesser, Laurent. "The open man. Anatomical votive busts between the history of medicine and archaeology." In Bodies of Evidence. Ancient Anatomical Votives Past, Present and Future. Jane Draycott and Emma-Jayne Graham, eds. (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 165-92, esp. p. 189.