Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ancient Egypt (pt. 10)

Another is this very famous work of art, the bust of Nefertiti.
The first shocking quality: it is a statue of just a woman, and no man.  Womankind, made from man, the weaker vessel, "the serpent's prey," submissive to her husband, and in every way lower than men during that time, is here elevated to such a level of importance that a statue is made solely of her—alone, independent.  The next thing to shock me is: the statue is a bust (which is the name for a statue of only the shoulders up on a person).  Remember the Venus of Willendorf—that supposedly, women in ancient times were only good for childbearing and keeping the race alive (or, in the case of the Egyptian pharaohs, providing heirs to keep the dynasty enthroned).  Well, here there is no attention whatsoever given to female reproductive organs; it is just a bust of her face.  And a proud-looking face it is, furthermore, is it not?  Her head is held up high, not quite like a submissive wife's.  (And the name Nefertiti means "the perfect one").  It is the face of a person that most expresses his/her character, personality, emotions, etc.  Here, although she is the queen of an empire and the wife of a pharaoh, the sculptor just shows us Nefertiti's face—Nefertiti as she is, as a person.  Enter Realism.  Now say goodbye, because we won't see this again until the Romans.

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