Visual Analysis Comparison
In this analysis, two heads of Odysseus are analyzed. On the one hand, the Sperlonga head is representative of the Hellenistic Period of Greek art, with dramatic carvings and lots of emotions. On the other hand, the “Bristol” head carries a more subtle representation. The use of color, light, mass and space, texture, and shapes are the main overriding differences used to show case the differences as the Sperlonga head is more dominant and noticeable while the Bristol head is a bit reserved and subtle in its forms and features.
Head of Odysseus from Sperlonga (Tiberius’ cave) is large and quite elaborate. The use of contour lines is employed brilliantly to show dramatic changes in the form of the object. For instance, the eyebrows are missing, yet their position is shown within a realistic drawing line in line with the upper part of the eyes. Despite being sunken, these eyes are within a straight line proportionate to the rest of the body. The shapes used in the Sperlonga head include a variant of spiraling lines, round shapes, and silhouettes to create different impressions. The sculpture is three dimensional giving a realistic look of the original version, applying consistency in use of lines and spiraling movements, wavy lines to show the creases at the brow and the unkempt beards, and a smooth finish that, overall, highlights the work to give a realistic impression. The geometric use of space and shapes creates a positive shape. Vanishing points emerge through the use of overlapping lines and specific details that convey the mass and volume as appropriate. These elements interact to convey unity of the forms by depicting an imperfect sculpture and rightly depicts a real figure. The use of light and color (or lack thereof) dazzlingly highlight the sculpture, creating a uniform and gentle look as the fading lights help to highlight main features in a linear and realistic representation.
The Roman marble head of Odysseus begins at the top bearing a rosette and a corona of rays, frieze of palmettes and and a lotus blossom. The lines are significantly rough suggesting a movement and direction towards the temple. The eyes are led to the very rough beards that suggested a man of battle. The width is fairly consistent yet the wavy lines that are predominantly vertical gives a rough impression of the entire work. The Bristol head is in a two-dimensional format and uses several round shapes to highlight basic features such as the eyes, the mouth, the nose, and the entire head including what looks like a religious head gear. The overlapping wavy lines are used to create a rough finish and a positive space. The composition is fairly symmetrical and emphasis is achieved through the use of the nose as a defining feature. The nose is the center line that gives a focal point for the rest of the body elements including visible ears and the neck. The use of light is intense, creating brightness around the entire sculpture. It adds to the tension and is quite calming.
In summary, the two heads are very similar yet filled with subtle differences that are hard to distinguish. The anatomical and muscle elements have been sketched with great care and accuracy. The careworn face is framed by unkempt beards and some elements of untidy locks. The Sperlonga Head has a neck that has been violently twisted and the eyes sunken deeper in their sockets and within the skull. The half open mouth is an expression of terror and suffering. The Bristol head has brow that is creased because of a notable frown, mouth significantly crooked and not within a straight line. The smooth pileus is in contrast with features such as a crooked nose and a visibly large frame for the eyes. These differences leads to the Sperlonga head being more dominant in terms of visibility and overall features.