Formal Analysis of "Relief of a Winged Genius"

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  • Topic: Sculpture, Relief, Nimrud
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  • Published : December 7, 2010
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Formal Analysis of

"Relief of a Winged Genius"

Yahaira Guzman

Art History

09/29/10

Relief of a winged genius is a two-dimensional stone relief sculpture currently located on the first floor of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, in the Ancient Near East Gallery (Accession number: 81.56). It is an Assyrian artifact excavated from the palace walls of the capital of ancient Nimrud, dating between 883-859 B.C. The unknown artist's deliberate use of size, material, scale, style and content, together with the sculpture's original setting, reflects the politically driven agenda during the reign of Ashurnasirpal II.

Upon first viewing Relief of a winged genius, one cannot help but notice the enormity of the stone sculpture, which stands approximately seven feet long by six feet wide. The imposing size of this sculpture immediately impresses upon ones mind its strength and power. The material of which the sculpture is composed - gypsum or alabaster - further adds to the impression of strength as well as creating a sense of permanence. When considering the sculpture's origin within the walls of the Ashurnasirpal's II palace, it is not difficult to imagine that this relief was designed with the purpose to intimidate and impress people with his power, especially during a time when warfare was a perpetual threat.

The focal point of the sculpture is the winged male figure bearing a sword in his right hand. The full length of his body fills up the space within the sculpture in proportion to it's rectangular frame. What immediately stands out about this figure is the exaggerated musculature of his forearms and lower left leg, again the element of strength and power is emphasized here. Outfitted with wings, a horned headdress and a sword, one can deduce that he is a warrior and/or a protective being of some sort with abilities that are beyond the realm of human possibility. The placement of such a figure within the walls of...
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