Use the infomation below to compose a 250-275 essay – describe the Standard of UR (this is for a fine arts class)
Week 1 Discussion Fine Arts- Describe an Artwork .
STANDARD OF UR Agriculture, trade, and the spoils of war brought considerable wealth to some of the city-states of ancient Sumer. Nowhere is this clearer than in the so-called Royal Cemetery at Ur. Archaeologists debate whether those buried in this cemetery were true kings and queens or simply aristocrats, priests, and priest- esses, but their tombs were regal in character. They contained gold helmets and daggers with handles of lapis lazuli (a rich azure-blue stone imported from Afghanistan), gold beakers and bowls, jewelry.
In this early example of historical narrative, a Sumerian artist depicted a battlefield victory in three registers, reading from bottom to top. The size of the figures varies with their importance in society.
Entertaining the Sumerian nobility at this banquet are a harp player and a singer. The artist represented all of the standing and seated humans in composite views and all the animals in strict profile of gold and lapis, musical instruments, chariots, and other luxurious items. Not the costliest object found in the “royal” graves, but the most significant for the history of art, is the so-called Standard of Ur (figs. 1-13 and 1-14), the sloping sides of which are inlaid with shell, lapis lazuli, and red limestone.
The excavator who discovered this box-shaped object thought the Sumerians mounted it on a pole as a kind of military standard, hence its nickname. The “standard” may have been the sound box of a musical instrument. Art historians usually refer to the two long sides of the box as the “war side” (fig. 1-13) and “peace side” (fig. 1-14). On the war side, four ass-drawn four-wheeled war chariots crush enemies, whose bodies appear on the ground in front of and beneath the ani- mals. Above, foot soldiers gather up and lead away captured foes.
In the uppermost register, soldiers present bound captives (whom the victors have stripped naked to degrade them) to a kinglike figure, who has stepped out of his chariot. His central place in the composi- tion and his greater stature (his head breaks through the border at the top) set him apart from all the other figures. In the lowest band on the peace side, men carry provisions, pos- sibly war booty, on their backs.
Above, attendants transport animals, perhaps also spoils of war, and fish for the great banquet depicted in the uppermost register. There, seated dignitaries and a larger- than-life personage (third from the left; probably a king, whose head interrupts the upper border) attend a feast. A harp player and a long- haired bare-chested singer (a court eunuch) entertain the group. Some art historians have interpreted the scene as a celebration after the victory in warfare represented on the other side of the box.
But the two sides may be independent narratives illustrating the two principal roles of a Sumerian ruler—the mighty warrior who defeats enemies of his city-state and the chief administrator who, with the blessing of the gods, assures the bountifulness of the land in peace- time (compare fig. 1-1). The absence of an inscription prevents con- necting the scenes with a specific event or person, but, like the Warka Vase, the Standard of Ur undoubtedly is another early example of historical narrative, even if only of a generic kind.
Kleiner, F. (2017) Art through the ages: a concise western history (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning The Standard of Ur is the piece that stood out to me the most.
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