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Statue of Demedji and Hennutsen - Essay Example

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Analysis of the Statue of Demedji and Hennutsen Museum Label Demedji and Hennutsen (ca. 2465-2438B.C.) Limeston with remains of paint Rogers Fund, 1951(51.37) Old Kingdom While the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains a staggering amount of cultural artifacts, some of the most notable are those from the ancient Egyptian period…
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Analysis of the Statue of Demedji and Hennutsen Museum Label Demedji and Hennutsen (ca. 2465-2438B.C Limeston with remains of paint Rogers Fund, 1951(51.37) Old Kingdom While the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains a staggering amount of cultural artifacts, some of the most notable are those from the ancient Egyptian period. In addition to having the added interest of being ancient, many of these artifacts are of a fantastical nature that creates an uncanny effect upon observation. One such prominent artifact within this context of understanding is the Statue of Demedi and Hennutsen. As a tremendous amount of analysis and information has been presented on Egyptian artifacts from this period, it’s necessary to approach the object from a fresh perspective. One of the most prominent areas of concern when examining this statue is placing it in its contextual situation. In these regards, the statue was created in Egypt between 2465-2438 B.C. This is a prominent element as it places the artifact between the Fifth and Eight Dynasties (Malek). While during the early part of this era the Egyptian dynasty experienced great affluence, at the conclusion Egypt went through drought and famine that contributed to the fall of the Old Kingdom. In this context of understanding, the statue takes on an almost uncanny quality as it stands between this tumultuous period of affluence and destruction. The statue then does not merely preserve an aspect of Egyptian culture, but preserves the very nature of Old Kingdom cultural production. In terms of artistic production, there are a number of notable formal elements related to the statue. The statue stands 83 centimeters tall and 50.8 centimeters wide. While this is not an entirely imposing size, it is large when observed from a contemporary context. The stone structure also adds to this strong nature. While Egyptian artifacts lack much of the frills or fantastical nature of later Greek and Roman sculptures, the limestone medium of this statue plays into its aesthetic quality. In these regards, one of the prominent aesthetic elements that can be gleamed from the artifact is the broadcasting of strength. While the statue is minimalist in tone, one can find artistic appreciation in this through its ability to convey these Egyptian values of strength and prosperity. Another notable element of the statue is the positioning of the man in relation to the woman. In these regards, the man is featured seated in the foreground while the woman is standing behind him. The man is also significantly larger than the woman. From a feminist critical perspective this has the obvious implication of revealing patriarchal elements of Egyptian society, through the prominent gender distinction. Further elements can be examined in terms of texture and form. While the statue’s general depiction is clearly minimalist in tone, it still contains expertly articulated facial features and an almost emblematic depiction of Egyptian hair. A final formal consideration is Egyptian writing that outlines the front of the chair the man is seated upon. This adds a distinctly Egyptian feel to the statue’s overall aesthetic qualities. In addition to formal examinations there are a number of considerations that must be developed in terms of Old Kingdom artistic production. Within this context of understanding one of the prominent considerations is the notion that art in the Old Kingdom, “provides a more generic image of power. Nonroyal sculptures emphasize round, contended, or (especially in the Fifth Dynasty) serious countenances and firm physicality” (pg. 279). When one considers the statue it’s clear how the artists work to sustain this sense of power and physicality. As noted earlier, the minimalist nature of the statue works to emphasize specific thematic elements. In this context, the unadorned clothing and setting emphasizes the bodily physicality of the men – featured without a shirt – and the woman, who is clothed but distinctly defined. Another consideration is that noted by artistic analysis of this work that indicates, “Demedji was Overseer of the regions of foreign bowen, and Overseer of the King's fortresses. Both titles imply a military function” ("Metropolitan Museum of Art"). When one considers the work in this context of understanding, further elements are revealed about in structural significance. In these regards, the foregrounding of the male figure and physicality is not simply a depiction of a domestic relationship, but instead constitutes a comprehensive depiction of Egyptian wartime power. One notes the clenched fist and open hands, perhaps containing further structural significance. Even as the woman in the background is understood to be Demedji’s wife, one notes the rigid and almost military like abidance her stance takes. Ultimately, this is a powerful and minimalist depiction of Egyptian power and strength. References Malek, Jaromir. "The Old Kingdom (c2686–2160 BCE)". In The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, edited by Ian Shaw. 2003 Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. "Statue of Demedji and Hennutsen." Metropolitan Museum of Art. N.p., 2011. Web. 26 Oct 2011. . Read More
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