Art Of Portraiture Essay

816 words - 3 pages

art of portraiture

The three works that I chose that are art of portraiture are Head of a King,
Mask of an Lyoba, and Mother Goddess. The first two portraits are West African
Art from two different tribes, Ife, who created the Head of a King and Benin,
whom created the Mask of an Lyoba. The Mother Goddess is an Aztec piece. These
groups of people are from different cultures, time periods, and share different
religious beliefs. The similarity of the groups is the symbolic meaning the
portraitures brought to its people.

The first work is the Head of a King. This Ife creation altered the perception
that scholars had of the tribe. It was known that the Ife tribes did not do
portraits because of the spirits that could harm the subjects. The sculptures
that were discovered all seemed to resemble rulers, so the conclusion was that
the institution of kingship and the need to revere royal ancestors were strong
enough to overcome concerns. Also the figures were naturalistic. The
proportions of the few knownful figures are characteristically African.. The
heads may have been taken from life models, but seem more like idealized images.

An example is of the proportions of the head of the sculpture. These
proportions probably reflect a belief in the head’s importance as the abode of
the spirit, and the focus of the individual identity.

Ife is the sacred city of the Yoruba people, were naturalistic sculpture began.
The Benin tribe arose after the Ife, and was greatly influenced by their art.

Their portraits were also naturalistic, but as they grew more knowledgeable in
art, they drew away from the naturalistic works of the Ife people into stylized
works of their own. The Mask of an Lyoba is a beautiful ornamental mask of
royalty. This works shows that the people no longer use the naturalistic
approach, but a bold, more idealized, representation of its people. The art of
Benin is a royal art, only the oba could commission the works. This work was
commissioned in ivory, but most of the works were commissioned in brass. The
Benin transition from naturalistic to stylize is better explained in the brass
heads. It ranges from small, thinly cast, and naturalistic to large, thickly
cast, and highly stylized. The conclusion of scholars is that in their Early
Period, their heads were small and naturalistic from the Ife influence. Heads
then grew increasingly stylized during the Middle Period. Then in the Late
Period, the heads...

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