Formal Analysis, Contextualizing, and Compare and Contrast of the Egyptian Sculpture of Isis Nursing Horus and the Byzantine Icon, the Virgin of Vladimir
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A formal analysis, contextualizing, and compare and contrast of the Egyptian sculpture of Isis nurturing Horus and the Byzantine icon, The Virgin of Vladimir
This essay aims to investigate two different time periods in the history of art. It will scrutinize the influence that the respective societal contexts had on the different artists, which in turn, caused them to arrange the formal elements in a specific way. I will be examining an Egyptian sculpture of the god Isis nursing Horus, her son, as well as the Vladimir Virgin icon, which dates from the Byzantine era. Experts vary on the precise ‘lifetime’ of the Ancient Egyptian civilization, but according to Mason (2007:10) it existed from 3100 BCE up to 30 BCE. The Byzantine era, which…show more content… Although the surface of the artwork has been fairly damaged by smoke from burning candles and incense, there is still a suggestion of the bright circular halos which had once ‘crowned’ both the Virgin and the child. Cooper relates the symbolism of the circle as “one which expresses archetypal wholeness and totality and therefore divinity” (1982:19). The upper body of Mary appears very large, especially in comparison with the Christ-child, whose body ‘fits’ into her bosom, which is generally associated with comfort. Almost as though she tries to console him concerning his future death (Tansey & Kleiner, 1996: 312).
Examining the Ancient Egyptian civilization reveals much about the nature of its art. The art was mainly religious in content and purpose and, as the “religious dogma” remained unchanged for nearly 3000 years, so did the art (Piper, 1991: 24). Because Isis and Horus are divine beings, they had to be portrayed “with limited human expression” according to “strict formal conventions, in keeping with their divinity” (Mason, 2007:13). The sculpture is fairly flat on the back side of the throne, for the sake of functionality. It was not “intended to be seen in the round”, but was most probably placed against the wall of a tomb (Ancient Egypt – Myth & History, 2002: 439). In fact, this sculpture was not made