This bronze sculpture is the head of Poseidon, Greek god over the sea. The internationally recognized sculpture was created during the Hellenistic period (300-30 BC). The date this specific sculpture is said to be around 227-221 BC according to the museum of fine arts in Houston. It was unclear as to who the portrait was of, but after the museum had received an ancient silver coin, the Antigonos Doson’s coin, it was clear they portrayed him as Poseidon. The bronze head and silver coin both had the fine facial bone structure, deep hooded eyes, open lips, and similar curl pattern of the hair and beard. This paper will analyze the Greek bronze sculpture of Poseidon’s head done in the Hellenistic period and its effect it may have on viewers.
This sculpture is in a 3-D space from all sides. The illusion is given by the high relief carved near the nose bridge and the clear hollowness from the back of the head as well as the overall roudness of the head. The godly presence is well constructed by the dimensions. The dimensions of Poseidon’s head give the viewer a sense of how big the rest of the body could possibly be relative to just the head. The height of this piece is 9 ½ inches long which can also help conclude that the statue as a whole may have been close and or larger than human height. Technique used throughout this piece was by various stages of casting and melding of the inside structure.
The strong medium used can help define its structure from caving in on itself. The choice of using bronze was common among the Greeks and Romans. Learning bronze had distinct advantages over pure copper a lot of the statuary found are made up of bronze such as this one, Poseidon’s head. Because of its fairly large figure the artist used hollow wax casting for different parts of the body. The viewer can see through the back of the head that iron rods are placed to ensure the strength of its core. The help of metal bars is used as support and can be seen from the back of Poseidon’s head due to the wear and tear. The metal look gives the viewer the feel of sternness and strength of the subject portrayed.
When viewing this art, it is visible that the back of the head is destroyed and most of the front is well preserved, with the exceptions of few minor corrosion scars on the left side. There is a bit of damage along the top of Poseidon’s head. It’s also visible that the few hair locks that would have come down to cover the ear on the left side seem to be missing and this assumption is made because of what is left on the right side of Poseidon’s face.
The subject of this sculpture appears to a be an old man. The subject’s sunken cheeks and heavy beard can help the viewers come to this conclusion. Although the old man does not seem to have any eyes and his eyes sockets are empty, the posture of his head relative to his neck can help conclude his gaze could have been downward. Poseidon could perhaps be gazing at something the figure held in his hands. With addition to the forward lean of the neck a downward glance, Poseidon can be seen with visible lines across his forehead which can suggest concentration towards a certain object. The emotion is well played out through the motion of the head as well as the facial muscles in the forehead.
Movement in this piece is mostly through the hair of Poseidon. The low relief carved in the bronze gives the hair texture as well as movement. The curls of the hair and beard can suggest the strong ocean breeze as he ruled over the sea. It can be clear to the viewer that the locks carved have their individuality throughout Poseidon’s hair and beard. The movement also can be suggested through the position of the head relative to Poseidon’s neck.
The artist used both high and low relief to depict the natural details of the portrait. High relief was used around the nose, eyes, and mouth areas. The low relief was used more on the texture of the hair, eyebrows and beard. The well-defined facial features give the portrait a sense of feeling through the expression. the artist carves away the eyes leaving just the deep set hooded eye sockets giving the piece more depth. The slight openness of the mouth revels the upper teeth, which most likely were once coated with silver. The expression portrayed can be read as is grim but also intense at the same time. There is tension created through the contrast between the different shapes used. The different facial features such as the soft, smooth surfaces of the skin and sensual lips; then the restless movement of hair and beard. The contrast between the textures plays well with the feeling of naturalism.
The overall shapes used throughout were organic. They were complex due to the originality of the subjects features portrayed. Organic shapes are used in such as the hair of Poseidon. The organic curl pattern of the hair gives the viewer a sense of originality. The portrait is not symmetrical, which gives the viewers the feeling of individuality. These organic shapes used in the face help differentiate and depict Poseidon himself.
In conclusion, this art piece of Poseidon had overall strong structure. The metal bronze used gave the sculpture a sense of strength of the subject; god of the sea. The artist showed movement mostly through the posideons hair, having each lock of hair its own indivuality. The movement suggest the environment near the sea with the wind breeze against his bear and hair. There was low relief as well as high relief used throughout to make certain facial features. Organic shapes throughout the piece also help make up the facial features. The hooded eyes, the sharp nose and the beard helped the view certain this was a portrait of a man. The dimensions of this sculpture gave the subject the well-deserved godly presence, since Poseidon was a god in Greek mythology. Head of Poseidon is a piece with great detail shown throughout, by technique, movement, and overall structure.
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