Statues may serve for a variety of purposes, but the most common are to immortalize the subject of sculpture, and to immortalize the artist. However, in the case of Egyptian sculptures, it was merely to immortalize their deities and pharaohs. If in Greece, the sculptors were free to follow the style they want; in Egypt the sculptors were restricted to the laws of the land (Aldokkan. com, 2008). Hence, for most of the statues built for Akhenaten, the artists were unknown except for the head sculpture made by Thutmose.
Yet the value of sculptures from ancient Egypt is not necessarily lesser than that of those from Ancient Greece or the Renaissance. There is something in their sculpture, as shall be discussed, in the sculpture of Ancient Egypt that makes it still at par with the world’s best in an objective point of view. Identification of the Image The sculpture of Akhenaten which is the subject of this paper is the one in the attachment accessed from http://www. aldokkan. com/art/statues. htm. Akhenaten is one of the names adapted by Amenhotep IV, the so-called heretic pharaoh. According to The Tree of Knowledge vol. , when he became phaoraoh from c1353-1336 B. C. , he “denounced all the thousands of Egyptian gods including Amon-Ra. ”
He instructed the Egyptians to worship only one god – the sun-god Aton. He even changed his name to Akhenaton to signify his loyalty to the god (Ibid). Formal Analysis Style Most Egyptian sculpture of pharaohs and gods are either standing or sitting on a throne (Aldokkan. com, 2008). When the figure is sitting, the hands are placed on the lap. Egyptian sculptures are normally characterized with symmetry. This is not only because of the prevailing style of the artists, but also mainly because it was the law (Aldokkan. om, 2008).
As usual among Egyptian sculptures, the sculpture of Akhenaten does not show any contour of the muscles of the body like the ones usually find in Greek and Renaissance sculptures. One can readily notice that there is no facial expression in the face and the eyes are looking straight forward. The arms are tucked close to the body, just like in any other sculptures of sphinxes, gods and pharaohs. There is classic beauty, but somehow, the work looks flat. Yet one reason for such uniformity might be to keep the glory and honor of the subject.
The flat look on the face shows how serious pharaohs must have looked like when on their throne and when they were dong their duties as pharaoh. Another thing, a straight flat look on the face must be their idea of dignity and honor. Form There frame of the body is rather plump, and compared with other sculptures of Akhenaten, there is one thing common – big belly. The plumpness and big belly probably show prosperity. During the reign of the pharaoh, there was progress, so there was enough food, so the pharaoh must be plum, and in the case of Akhenaten, not just plump, but also big bellied, to give more emphasis to prosperity.
Another noticeable thing about Egyptian is the large and plum head usually round. The purpose of the large head may be to emphasize who the subject is. Another might be their aesthetic taste for what looks good and what doesn’t. For them, large mammoth figures seemed to be the standard of beauty. Space The vertical figure occupies not much space in a room but need a lot of space for height. It does not occupy too much space since there is no much motion and the arms are tucked close to the body. However, there is some protrusion where the figure holds a tray for offering about the chest of Akhenaten.
Line It is obvious that the dominant line in the figure is the vertical line of the standing figure. The very visible horizontal line would be that of the tray that Akhenated is holding. In the psychology of lines, vertical lines suggest dignity and honor, just as this one does. Despite being the one giving the offering, the vertical line in the figure preserves the glory of the subject. Composition The figure depicts the pharaoh, big-bellied, standing, holding something for offering. The garment he is wearing is only barely evident for like the arms glued to the body, it also shows no movement or strong appearance.
The figure is very much like a simple person standing, except for the large head, although the blank facial expression, for one, suits the occasion Akhenaten must be in. Motion Though the image merely stands and the arms are glued to the body, there is a sense of motion owing to the occasion that is being depicted. It is a moment of service; hence, the stationary figure with very little evidence of supposed motion is actually showing almost the fullest extent of motion that has to be seen. Again the face has no expression, but it is but the right facial expression on a moment of offering that Akhenaten was supposed to be in.
Pros of the Material The statue is made of granite. It is definitely a nice choice for easy carving, especially considering the massive forms of the subjects usually depicted in Egyptian sculpture. It is easier to shape than marble or solid rock. Granite is also a durable material and when buried can last for a long time. Cons of the Material One problem with limestone is that it does not have the strength of marble. If not well protected, it may easily wear down. It cannot withstand strong impact or shock in case it drops because of handling from one place to another of in case accidental collisions take place.
It is a fragile material, and this must be another reason why the arms had to be glued to the body for support. Pros of the Technique The head is larger than normal proportion. This is good in the sense that if the head wears down, the outer parts wear don first, so the important part, the face has better chaces of staying intact and preserved. Also, the thick neck protects the figure from accidental decapitation caused by accidents. The same is true with the plumpness of the body. A plump figure is definitely stronger than one that is thin.
Since the arms are tucked to the body, they are better held together with it. Cons of the Technique The only problem with plum parts is that they does not capture real figure of the subject. Plumpness also makes the figure look rather flat than active. Hence, th beauty is sacrificed for the strength of the statue. Drama The situation created in the sculpture is clear – an offering. The subject is not at all that dramatic, but the sculpture captures the drama that should be in the situation being shown. The lack of facial expression does not lessen the dram because the situation calls for less facial expression.
Even without the presence of other sculptures or figures to complement that of Akhenaten, it is clear that he is doing an offering and the lack of facial expression somehow even emphasizes how serious the ritual must be. Historical Context Akhenten became pharaoh during the age of the New Kingdom (The Tree of Knowledge, Vol. 6). As mentioned earlier in this paper, Akhenaten was called a heretic pharaoh because placed the whole of Egypt under monotheism. The sculpture of his figure is just one of the sculptures about him, but this sculpture emphasizes the kind of Pharaoh that he was.
Among other pharaohs, he was the only one who denounced the most revered god of the Egyptians – Amon-Ra (Tree of Knowledge, vol. 32). Yet though he denounced polytheism, he was the most devout of all the pharaohs with regards to serving his god. In fact, he gave more time to service that political matters, which eventually caused his downfall. The Egyptians were a very religious people as can be seen in their artworks like paintings and sculptures that are mostly related to religious figures and rites. The shape of the pyramids has something to do with their worship of Amon-Ra. The slanting edges symbolize the rays of the sun.
Yet, no pharaoh was like Akhenaten in his devotion to worship Aton. Many historians praise him for his move towards monotheism, however, his prestige a pharaoh suffered because he neglected the empire because he was so preoccupied with religious affairs (Ibid). This is one notable thing about his sculpture. In the sculpture, he is depicted as holding something like a tray for offering. The sculpture tells the people, whoever they are, whatever time they may belong, that this pharaoh had been a pharaoh close to his god, and that in his time he led his people in worshipping his god.
During that time, sculptures of pharaohs were really huge, unlike the small figures of women children and other citizens. Pharaohs were always depicted clothed, though the clothes may no cover the whole body. Only slaves were drawn of shown nude. Critique of the Artwork The sculpture of Akhenaten may not be the best that can be found in Egyptian art, but it sure does bring the critical audience closer to the time of the pharaoh and prove how devout a worshipper the pharaoh has been. The sculpture of Akhenaten has the usual characteristics of Egyptian sculpture.
Anatomically the figure has an awkward large head that is not proportional to the short and rather stout body. Aside from the large frame of the head, there is also a headdress as big as the head that makes the head look a lot bigger and the body shorter. This illusion of shortness added to the plumpness of the body makes the figure look like a figure of a child, not of a pharaoh t first glance. One can only figure out that it is not a child after paying attention to the face and the headdress. Nonetheless, it still doesn’t look like a statue of a pharaoh.
The majesty in the figures of pharaohs is missing. This must be because of the big belly, for though Egyptian sculptures of pharaohs are plump, they do not depict pharaohs as having big bellies. The big belly has seemed to lessen the connotation of royal stature. The beauty of youth is, nevertheless, wonderfully shown here if the sculptor had any intention of preserving the pharaoh’s youthful face. The youthful appearance can be attributed to the plumpness of the face and the light color of the material. The ears and the nose were well carved as well, as the eyes and lips.
And though it has been repeated several times in this paper that the face has no expression, there seems to be a hidden smile that can be seen through the lines on both sides of the lips to the cheeks of Akhenaten. This is something unique only to Akhenaten sculptures and not even found in all. Because of what the figure in the sculpture is doing, there more of a picture of devotion rather than power, glory, and even dignity. The statue is very unlikely for a pharaoh, because pharaohs are usually depicted with divinity, ad hence, are to be worshipped.
But in this sculpture, the pharaoh is about to render service for worship. This is what most of all its attributes sets it apart from the other sculptures of pharaohs. All others were depicted in sculptures standing upright or sitting on a throne projecting majesty, but Akhenaten’s sculpture projects humility of service. Conclusion Egyptian sculpture has it uniqueness and these unique qualities make Egyptian culture all the more worth our attention. Ancient Egyptian civilization was a great civilization knowledgeable in medicine and perhaps even in anatomy.
Yet unlike the Greeks they dido not make sculptures that followed human anatomic proportions. However, the style they created projected the effects they wanted. Akhenaten’s sculpture is does not possess the same anatomic proportions of Greek sculptures, and the majesty of other Egyptian sculptures, but its beauty lies deep within the meaning it brings with it. It reminds us of the pharaoh, who devoted his life, not to make himself rich, or glorify his name, but to glorify his god.