For this essay I have selected two works of ancient art being on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Louvre Museum respectively. First is the statuette of Isis and Horus, dated 330-30 B.C.E., from the Metropolitan Egyptian Art collection, attributed to the Ptolemaic period. The second one is a male statuette discovered in the Cave of Psychro, Crete, dated approximately 1500 B.C.E. and attributed to the Neopalatial period. Both sculptures are believed to have some religious context and are traditional for the cultures that have produces them. For both statuettes the artist remains to be unknown.
The Egyptian sculpture is made of Egyptian faience and is about 17cm tall. The goddess sits on the throne, wearing a throne hieroglyph representing her name. She is suckling her son Horus. Her head covering is typical for queens and goddesses. Horus is naked and is wearing a single lock of hear on the right side of his head. The Greek bronze statuette is a representation of male figure. The man is standing straight, back vaulted, torso bent back. Hi is wearing a long cloth around his waist. This piece of sculpture is similar in heights to the one previously described – it is about 18cm tall.
There is an apparent difference in quality of the two art pieces: Isis and Horus’ features are more distinct as their bodies, faces, and clothes have a well-defined structure, while the Greek male statuette has an indistinct face and body shape. This difference, naturally, results from the mediums used to produce the statuettes and the skill of the makers living in two different historic periods and geographical regions. Nevertheless, both pieces of sculpture are of an immense artistic beauty and provide us with aesthetic pleasure of observation.
The author of Isis and Horus has, apparently, made an effort to create a very naturalistic, or, maybe even an idealistic image of two human figures which, nevertheless, are meant to represent supernatural beings. The image of a male figure from Crete is in this aspect quite similar to the statuette of two Egyptian gods: it is reasonably naturalistic and clearly reflects a male human being.
The image of Isis and Horus has a deep symbolic and religious meaning as, according to the description posted in the Metropolitan Museum, it is a powerful symbol of rebirth transferred to Rome from the Ptolemaic period. The statuette has been, most likely, used for worship, as a strong cult of the goddess has been established in Egypt. The Greek statuette also has a certain religious meaning, however, different from the one attributed to the statuette of Isis and Horus. Thus, according to the information provided by The Louvre Museum web site, it has been found in a sacred place in the Minoan region and, probably, represents a man standing with his right hand raised in a gesture of devotion and prayer. Therefore, the first statuette has served as an object of worship, while the second one represents the worshiper himself. These works of art are of a great aesthetic as well as historical value for the modern society.
References: The Louvre Museum. (2006). Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Selected Works. Retrieved September 6, 2006, from The Louvre Museum web site: http://www.louvre.fr/ The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (2006). Statuette of Isis and Horus, 330-30 B.C.E.: Description. Retrieved September 6, 2006, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art web site: http://www.metmuseum.org/
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