Metropolitan Museum of Art



Museum Research Paper



During my trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I observed many interesting paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. The two exhibits I chose to do my report on were “Anonymous Official”, from the thirteenth dynasty in Egypt, (1783 B.C.), and ”Head from a Herm” from the early Greek civilization, (first quarter of the fifth century). (The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, Howard, pg. 306) I chose these two particular exhibits because of their faces. The way the human face is portrayed is an excellent way to figure out how humans were perceived in these specific time periods. You can compare the two different faces from the two different time periods, and compare and contrast the two time periods.
The Egyptian and the Greek time periods were, to me, the most interesting of all the others we have studied. Many of the philosophies and governmental policies that were used then, are still used today. The Greeks had first used democracy, and the Egyptians believed in monotheism, which is the belief that there is only one god, which many Americans believe today. While we may have adapted beliefs and governmental policies from these time periods, they were very different from each other. The way that the two civilizations classify their leaders is a good example.
The sculpture of “Anonymous Official” is the upper torso of an Egyptian man. This man’s face has deep facial furrows and almond shaped eyes. The sculpture also has a straight nose and a narrow chin. These facial features are the way that Egyptians depicted normalcy. There was a second sculpture, identical to the first one that was believed to be a relative of the man because they were found together and they looked so very similar.
The Egyptians were a very isolated culture. They did not like foreigners to impede on their land. The Egyptian rule was broken down into three subdivisions of time. The first was the Old Kingdom (3000-2155 B.C.), followed by the Middle Kingdom (2134-1785 B.C.), and ending with the New Kingdom (1500-1162 B.C.). The sculpture of the “Anonymous Official” was created in the Middle Kingdom time period. During the period of Egyptian rule a Pharaoh was considered to be the highest plateau that a man could reach. If you were a Pharaoh you were considered divine. This belief that the Egyptians had, of the Pharaoh, was reflected in their art. Sculptures of the Pharaohs were perfect figures. The figures had wide over expressed eyes, which were considered to be holy. This is why a sculpture of King Tutankhamun would have the wide expressed eyes. Unlike any sculptures of people outside the circle of Egyptian culture.
It is very rare to find an artifact from this time period. Many of the cities were raided and destroyed by the people from the West. It was because of these raids that Egyptians were hostile towards outsiders. The one part of the Egyptian culture that did survive, were the tombs. These tombs are where we get the majority of our information on the Middle Kingdom time period. These tombs are the link to the world of the dead.
The sculpture “Head from a Herm” is believed to be depicted from the Greek god, Hermes. The head is also believed to have come from some sort of Greek sphinx. The face of this sculpture is very defined. The sculpture has hair on it, which seems to be the style of that time period. The way the face is defined conforms to the Greek push to be perfect. All poses of Greek art are marked by passion and violence. (The Art of Art History, Preziosi, pg.35)
During the Greek period, a great belief in mythology came about. All the stories of Zeus, Aphrodite, and Aries came from this Greek time period. This sculpture of a man’s head is one of the many dedicated to the Greek gods. All in all, the things that the Greeks made their highest priorities were life, religion, art, and the perfection of all of these.
If you were to compare and contrast the two sculptures, “Anonymous Official” and “Head from a Herm”, you could start by comparing their cultural backgrounds. Both the Egyptian and the Greek empires, at their prime, were very powerful and both are, to