Art Analysis of Isis-Aphrodite Figure

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At CSU San Bernardino is the museum, Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art , which open in the fall of 1996. This museum is best known for its Egyptian collection that contains the largest display of art and artifacts in the western United States. Most of these eclectic displays are on a long-loan from Dr. Benson Harer, a professor at the university. This exhibit is full amazing pieces of ancient Egypt. This display of Isis-Aphrodite (Fig. 1) stood out more to the eye than the other 397 pieces of the Egyptian collection in the museum.

At the entrance of Egyptian collection was a large quote written by the RAFFMA museum team, Journey to the Beyond. Ancient Egyptians in the Pursuit of Eternity, "Ancient Egyptians built the longest lasting civilization, still admired today for its endurance, mystery and the sheen of its gold. For millennia, people have fascinated by ancient Egypt, particularly by its people’s relationship to death. Ancient Egyptians loved life and believed in getting it back in the BEYOND. Their pursuit of the eternal existence and provisioning for the journey to the BEYOND is the story of our exhibition, which presents, in a new context, objects from RAFFMA’s permanent collection and on loan from Dr. Benson Harer. Enjoy the Story" (Fig. 2).

As you continue your way into a large room, there are many pieces that are under wondrous light as well as captivating to the naked eye. Behind a glass pane, standing on top of a one-inch circular platform, is the precious figurine of Isis-Aphrodite. Looking directly ahead, at approximately twenty inches tall, this figurine is made of terracotta via the label underneath. Although, it is unknown if this is an original piece, the label states that there have been more made in Roman times due to the worship of her cult. The label underneath the display states, "Under the Ptolemaic, a version of Isis was merged with the Greek goddess Aphrodite becoming Isis-Aphrodite. Her strong cult worship continued into the Roman Period. Here, she is linked to Hathor – another ancient Egyptian fertility and maternity goddess. The figures of Isis-Aphrodite have been found in both domestic and funerary contexts. Popular already in the 3rd to 2nd centuries B.C., they continued to be made in Roman times" (Fig. 3). This figure can be seen from the front and both sides; however, the backside is not since that part is flat and two-dimensional.

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The figure glows under a soft light that accents its shadows and highlights. She is a woman, standing with both feet planted firmly on the ground. With her hands at her side, Isis-Aphrodite seems poised, undisturbed, and confident. Her face is a direct stare back at the viewer with a strong expression. Above her head, is a larger than life headdress and a sun-beamed crown; moreover, it seems to be a god-like aura around her crown/headdress. You can see a small portion of her hair that looks parted in the middle and possibly in a bun. Her prolific bosom is another part of this figurine that is highly noticeable and projects fertility and maternal fierceness. Her soft and rounded torso and slim legs are extensive and depicts a humbleness and stability. She represents two profound beings of her time and the outstanding sun-disk like crown and aura are the outstanding points when she is gazed upon. She has certain curves that lets the viewer understand her sensuality as a goddess. The terracotta made beauty has a highlighting of what could be suggested as gold as she is glorified under the lights of the display.

This figure is a three-dimensional piece that does have a two-dimensional backing. The extension from the two-dimensional space protrudes out so roughly and so smoothly. As you gaze from a frontal point of view, the warm, yellowish tones are bright in value. The curves project out in smooth and indenting motions, you can picture in your mind the fingers that began to shape this terracotta probably starting at the mid-body. Creating rough vertical lines to form the arms, legs, and feet. The curve lines within the lower portion of the sculpture show the beginning of the pelvis and its connection to the legs. These carvings are profound throughout the goddess as you can see how her torso shows almost a sense of maternity. The bosom is the only part that is carved into a soft, supple texture and perky shape. The arms and head seem to have indentions in its creation that are not one would say are "perfect" in providing a sense of a firm glare, while the arms seem to have more mass on the left arm than the right. From the top of her headdress, the primary colors of red and yellow, which have transformed over the centuries, compliment the hard motions to give value as the light and dark accents accentuate the magnitude of her glory. There is a diagonal line that flows within the curves that make it seem that the headdress may be quite heavy as it seems to tilt forward. Yet, the rough, sculpting texture in which she was created, beams strength. Overall, each little rough and flowing curvature of her lines announces femininity, maternal embrace, sensuality, dominance, and grace.

After looking at the lineal build of Isis-Aphrodite, she communicates the visual idea of unity in her greatness and strength. It is like a vortex; you stare and want to know more. What is her secret to becoming this being that is radiating? There is also the headdress and sunray aura that is more prominent, whereas, the rest of her body is less dense, more rounded about, and there is humbleness and maternal care. Although, there are parts of Isis-Aphrodite that are make the visual into one solid piece, there is a variety in each part of her body to tell what she stands for. Within this unite and variety, the figure shows an extension of a solid and appears to be heavy in mass. Standing at twenty-inches tall and considering its matter, the figure does seem to contain a mass that would be heavy in holding. The emphasis of the figure is the headdress and her bosom in that they are dominant at first glance. You are attracted to this focal point due to the heaviness of its context; whereas, the rest of the body becomes subordinate and not in the range of focus. Her face, arms, and legs are more subordinate than her bosom and headdress.

This figure caught my eye in such a prolific way and her majestic stance made me come closer to see what she was all about. When facing Isis-Aphrodite figure, I was immediately in awe of such grace and nobility. Egyptian art and its history are my favorites and always has been. Choosing this piece of art was somewhat I needed to explore from a feminine point of view living in today’s society. The color and texture of the terracotta has aged so beautifully to transform into a golden-like hue from the rich tones and the way the terracotta looks rough, hard, and smooth at different curve in the lines. The emphasis of this figure is to make me see her eternal eminence as well as viewing the subordinate parts of her body in that she is also a humble depiction of woman who can withstand any obstacle.

The visual interest in unity and variety is seen in how she stands with dignity and confidence; moreover, the components of her relatable stance is dominant over the breakdown in the subtleties of her. I think she isn’t for the faint of heart, her mass/volume not only speaks to me as a viewer, but I am sure a figure of this enormity is quite heavy if held in my hands. She does not seem the type of figure that was molded to be light and delicate. Isis-Aphrodite makes you question yourself as a woman. What stance do you want to take in your own world? Her curves show sensuality and softness that she may have over her followers, her mother-like belly shows that you within an eternal embrace that will care for you, and her legs stand firmly as she holds up a mighty headdress/crown with a magnetic aura for all the gods to see. Isis-Aphrodite is a combination of great beings and it is evident that she when you gaze upon her in that case.

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