Menkaure Essay Research Paper The sculpture group

Menkaure Essay, Research Paper

The sculpture group of King Menkaure and His Queen is positioned in one of

the basic types of Egyptian sculpture ? the Standing/Striding pose. The figure

of Menkaure is rigidly frontal, although his head is slightly turned to the right.

His left foot is slightly advanced, however the upper body does not respond

to this uneven distribution of weight – there is no tilt in the shoulders, nor a

shift in the hips. All movement of the figure is suppressed: his muscular arms

hang down his athletic body, they are not flexed at the elbow and do not

break through the front contour of his thighs. The body remains wedded to

the block of stone from which it was carved. The artist does not remove the

?dead stone? between the arms and torso and most importantly his advanced

leg is not carved in the round, which contributes to the solid and majestic

appearance of the statue. The Queen assumes the same rigidly frontal

posture, however her left leg is less advanced than his, which alludes that she

is a subordinate figure to her king ? in this stance she is just echoing the

pharaoh?s decisive actions. She embraces the pharaoh with her right arm

placing her hand around his waist; her left arm is bent at the elbow and

covering her stomach rests on the king?s left arm. There is a space of about

couple of centimeters between the statues that widens towards the base, and

which makes Menkaure appear standing independently from his female

counterpart. In this frontal, striding forward posture the pharaoh looks

confident and in control. The Queen, however, cannot be thought of as an

independent statue. First of all, the statue of the king overlaps that of the

queen: her right shoulder becomes fused with and overlapped by his left

shoulder. Second of all, she has both of her arms around him and not the

other way around. Although her appearance conveys the message of majesty

and serenity, to me she also appears to be a subordinate figure to that of

King Menkaure. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that she stands a step behind

him, is being overlapped by his figure and she is the one embracing the

pharaoh. The statue group is left unfinished. The most finished parts are the

heads, torsos, and king?s feet. The queen?s feet were carved out and left

unpolished. The side view of the group offers a great contrast between the

rough texture of the stone and its polished one. The back slab goes up to the

shoulders of the figures without revealing their backs. It carries a supportive

structure for the statues and is not touched up by the artist. This could be

indicative of two things: either the group was simply unfinished or was meant

to be placed in the niche or stand against a corridor wall. At first sight the

facial features of the figures seem to be idealized, but upon closer examination

one realizes that they are highly individualized. The face of the pharaoh takes

on a squarish shape, his eyes are not deeply set in within their sockets, the

nose is short and turned up, the lips are full, the cheeks are protruding, his

ears are rather prominent. The queen?s face is round and fleshy. The

almond-shaped eyes, snub-nose, small mouth with full lips and elongated

neck ? seem to be rather more realistic features than idealized. Menkaure is

wearing a royal headpiece ? nemes. It consists of linen head cloth that covers

most of his forehead, tucked in behind the ears with pleated folds falling over

his shoulders. The queen is wearing a ceremonial wig common among the

females. The wig is parted in the middle, tucked in behind the ears and falls

down her shoulders. Menkaure is wearing a short royal kilt, and the queen ?

a thin garment that reveals more of her body than it actually conceals, clearly

distinguishing the protruding breasts and pubic triangle. The calm and

confidence reflecting the royal dignity of this group statue is achieved through

compactness and solidity of the composition. The silhouettes are closed ?

they have very few projecting parts. This solid appearance is enhanced by the

use of hard stone ? slate with its natural dark color. The nemes ? symbol of

leadership also emphasizes the royal and divine status of pharaoh. Everything

about the statues: the scale (life-size), their solid appearance, the hard stone

from which they were executed conveys a feeling of royal dignity.


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