Important Points of an Art History Image

In this essay I will compare and contrast two ancient sculptures in the round. The first is Nude Woman, or Venus of Willendorf, from the prehistoric period. The small limestone sculpture was found in modern day Austria and dates to circa 25,000 b.c.e. The second image is Khafre, a life-size Egyptian sculpture made of diorite stone from much later, circa 2,500 b.c.e. Both sculptures contain magical or supernatural symbolism, as well as concepts of life and death.

The Venus is probably a votive figure, or offering to the gods. She is abundant, perhaps pregnant, probably to symbolize fertility and to bring good fortune in the fields and in human reproduction. Little is known about the sculpture, but life at this time must have been a struggle for survival and she represents the core of the cycle of life. Khafre is a "Ka" statue, meant to be buried with the mummified body of the king of which he is a portrait. It is to serve as a back-up to the mummy to offer a place for the Ka, or soul, to reside at night. The portrait also helps the Ka recognize its residence and body. Most Egyptian art focused on permanence and the afterlife such as this one. Whereas Venus is probably an offering to the gods and a symbol of life to an entire culture, Khafre is meant to retain the individual man's soul and help him travel to and from the afterlife.

The Venus figure is a very small (about 4 ½ inches high) standing naked figure, whereas Khafre is a life-size and clothed seated portrait. They are both stone and both human figures, but differ greatly in style. The Venus exhibits a combination of many stylistic elements. It is naturalistic and organic in areas of the body; exhibits full breasts, a round stomach, the pubic triangle, and chubby legs. She is a series of natural spheres. However it is abstract as well. The head is stylized with no face, so that it represents a "type," perhaps representing the ideal of womanhood. Therefore, she is also idealistic.

Khafre is...