art comparison and contrast analysis

The paper will compare and contrast two pieces of art by the description and the analysis of the material used in the art, the symbolism, meaning, and other aesthetic concepts the painters used in coming up with the paintings. The two pieces of art are ancient and they are going to be derived from two widely renowned art galleries. These two include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the other is the Freer Gallery and Sackler Gallery. The two paintings to be analyzed in this paper are; the Comb, created by Theodore Davis during the predynastic period 3200 BC in Egypt and the Head of a Pharaoh, created during the periods between 2675 and 2130 BCE in Egypt.

The Comb by Theodore Davis

This piece of art can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it is a finely curved comb, which is among a number of knife handles and combs produced towards the end of prehistory of Egypt. The curving is three dimensional and it is curved out of ivory. The curving is light brown and it was created by curving figures of animals on both sides in horizontal roles. This spatial organization can be associated with the later art of most Egyptian artists. The artist uses curving and figures of animals to produce an artwork that is rough in texture. The figures are well balanced because the figures are curved horizontally (Heilbrunn timeline of art history).

The work of art also has a subject matter. From the details of the comb, it is easy to deduce that the comb was not curved to serve just like any other comb. From the details of the piece of work, it is easy to see that the literally meaning of the object is that it was used for ceremonial purposes (Heilbrunn timeline of art history). The piece is an abstract as it bases its idea, of a comb, to come up with a figure that looks like a comb but not in the normal way (Types of Visual Art). The artist wanted to mean something with this comb. The animals on the comb include elephants walking over snakes, among other animals. It is highly likely that the arrangement was not by accident. Elephants trending on snakes is a symbol; maybe meaning that the devil is defeated by a big force. Most African stories associate serpents and other animals with the stories of creation. The elephants who are on top trending on snakes might symbolize a mightier being (Heilbrunn timeline of art history). This might mean that there is a being watching over the creations and protecting them from the evil.

Head of a Pharaoh

This piece of art is in the form of a portrait, possibly of an Egyptian Pharaoh judging from the moustache and headgear. The artwork is a three dimensional piece and it is created from a mixture of copper and stone. This piece of art was probably made through molding. The color of the piece of art is grey to silver with what seems to be golden eyes. The texture is very smooth as compared to the Comb as there is no curving or detail on its surface. The subject matter of the piece of work is power and rule (Collection highlights: ancient Egyptian art). The pharaohs were immortalized like this in Egypt to symbolize their power. The art work is a representational piece of art as it represents a real person, or a pharaoh (Stangos, 1981).

The creator of this art work used symbolism, as well. The tall crown which is rounded on the top is a symbol of rule, especially in the ancient southern Egypt. During this time, these statutes were placed on the tombs of dead pharaohs to serve or symbolize eternal images of the individuals who had died. This has a traditional meaning in that it was used to show or indicate the divine character if the pharaoh. It also has another function; that of trying new things with the realistic portrayals of the body and face of a human being (Collection highlights: ancient Egyptian art).


These two pieces of art are representatives of the ancient Egyptian traditions and ways of life, and this is why they fit so well into the chosen time period. Ancient Egyptians practiced artistry decorated with different kinds of animals just like the Comb, and the statutes of the pharaoh were commonly made for their tombs.













Collection highlights: ancient Egyptian art. Freer/ Sackler. Retrieved from    

Heilbrunn timeline of art history. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved from   

Stangos, N. (1981). Concepts of Modern Art. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Types of Visual Art. The Virtual Retrieved from


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