So far in our study of ancient and early medieval art, we have seen people with political power presented in different ways – think of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, the Roman and Byzantine emperors, and kings of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. How a culture presents its leaders can reveal a great deal about their values and ideals – what that culture thought it was important for a ruler to look like and to be like.
As you review these different images of rulers, choose an image of a ruler or leader in the present-day (you could choose a present or past ruler or leader of the US or another country or a religious or industry leader—get creative). The contemporary image you choose does not have to be a work of art, though it certainly can be. It could also be a photograph from a newspaper or magazine, a campaign image or video, etc.; political cartoons are also acceptable.
Then choose at least two rulers from different time periods that we have studied (ancient Near East through medieval)—please cite the specific image by figure number from the textbook or a link/copy of another image that you are using (do NOT simply Google “Charlemagne” or another ruler, and choose the first image that appears, because it is probably not an image made during that ruler’s life time). Then compare and contrast the form and qualities you see in this modern image with the two earlier rulers you have chosen—while you are encouraged to discuss their accomplishments as leaders, you must also discuss how those are reflected (or not) in their visual representation (this is an art history paper, not a political science paper). Do these leaders have anything in common? What are their differences? Given their visual similarities or differences, how would you compare the cultural function played by these images in ancient versus modern times?
Please organize your essay in a clear and coherent manner, with an introduction that states your thesis, or main argument, followed by body paragraphs that sustain and support your thesis. Be sure to end with a conclusion that emphasizes what we can learn from your essay.