Comparison Between Menkaure and His Wife, and Nike from Samothrace

Topics: Winged Victory of Samothrace, Ancient Egypt, Nike Pages: 5 (1814 words) Published: May 13, 2010
Naturalism in art refers to the depiction of realistic objects in a natural setting. The Realism movements of the 19th century advocated naturalism in reaction to the stylized and idealized depictions of subjects in Romanticism, but many painters have adopted a similar approach over the centuries. One example of Naturalism is the artwork of American artist William Bliss Baker, whose landscape paintings are considered some of the best examples of the naturalist movement. Idealism is the attitude that places special value on ideas and ideals as products of the mind, in comparison with the world as perceived through the senses. In art idealism is the tendency to represent things as aesthetic sensibility would have them rather than as they are. In ethics it implies a view of life in which the predominant forces are spiritual and the aim is perfection. In philosophy the term refers to efforts to account for all objects in nature and experience as representations of the mind and sometimes to assign to such representations a higher order of existence. It is opposed to materialism. Menkaure and his wife, and Nike from Samothrace are based of the same idea, idealism, but at the same time they do have few naturalistic qualities.

The statue of King Menkaure and his Queen exhibits with clarity the Egyptian devotion of art to cannon of proportions. Its strictly frontal view point, the rigid poses of the figures, and a faithful accordance to rules and established customs can be interpreted as manifesting the nature of the Pharaoh’s authority over his subjects while at the same time exemplifying the highly regulated, hierarchical structure of ancient Egyptian society. The measured grid of verticals and counterbalancing horizontals, the stiff artificial postures and the overall idealized shapes of the bodies combined with naturalism is indicative of Egyptian taste for art and a representation of the character of Egyptian culture. Menkaure’s stance appears assertive, indicating his power. He is portrayed in the familiar Egyptian pose, with his left leg extended forward, his arms held stiff at his sides and his fists clenched. He is represented as a mature, vigorous man. He has slender hips, broad shoulders, and well-developed arms. His body has been made to appear life like; overall he represents the ideal of manly beauty in ancient Egypt . The image of his face and clothing are idealized and indicative of his power. On his head he wears a headdress, the sides of which are pulled back behind his large ears. The beard and headdress are the primary symbols of his status. The only other article of clothing he wears is a kilt. Next to Menkaure stands his wife. She stands in a more naturalistic way than Menkaure. Her right arm reaches around his waist and her left one is bent at the elbow, holding his left arm. The Queen’s gesture serves to bring them unity. Her relaxed pose, her smaller stride forward, the less rigid position of her arms, and her open hands indicate her subordinate position. Therefore, her pose can be seen as that of a passive, dutiful wife standing next to her powerful husband. The treatment of her clothing is intended to reveal and describe the forms of her body. She wears a long, very thin, close fitting garment, which clings to her body without folds or creases. Her breasts are outlined and the nipples showing, her navel and the bulge of her tummy are also indicated. The material clings around her pubic area, showing a triangular shape with the two lower converging sides following the curving lines of her groin. This possibly is a representation of her fertility. The portrait must be a replica of the man in order to serve his spirit after death. Therefore, the sculptor has gone into detail to show the individuality of King Menkaure and his Queen. This is seen in his strongly defined features. His firmly set jaw, slightly tilted face and direct line of sight are indicators of his authority. This...
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