Visual inspiration through movement and patterns dealing with Mithras Slaying the bull

In Ancient Artworks patterns and motion were essential to tell the story. This is evident in any artwork based around heroism and mythology. This gallery illustrates the Mithraic mystery of Mithras (Persian God) Slaying a Bull, and others. Enjoy!

Cult Relief: Mithras Slaying the Bull, Unknown, 150 AD - 200 AD, From the collection of: Cincinnati Art Museum
This Relief depicts Mithras slaying a Bull. The Persian God has the bull by the muzzle and he is thrusting a sword into its throat.Mithras is a Persian God and Mithraism was one of many foreign cults that gained popular acceptance in Rome and its provinces. Members of the army especially favored Mithraism, embracing it because of its promise of immortality and personal salvation. Movement is depicted by the bull’s hind leg, by trying to flee his death. Mythras cape is taken by the wind. A blocked pattern is used for the background. Another pattern you can find in this relief is how both faces of the sun like God and Mythras also share similarities; as far as expression goes they are almost identical. Also look closely to their hair. Mythras hair is longer, where the sun like gods hair is fairly short. But the main pattern here is the depiction of how the hair would actually look. (i.e. the curls are of same design and sculpting technique.)
Marble group of Mithras slaying the bull, 100/199, From the collection of: British Museum
Depicted here is Mithras in an eastern costume And unlike the first image he can been seen here wearing a cap. The bull and stances remain formed in the same fashion. The main Pattern you can see here when compared to the Mithras relief seen earlier in this gallery are: the positioning of Mithras leg holding down the hind leg of the bull, also the way he has the bull by the muzzle. The other similarity would be the snake and dog like creature are still visible and trying to drink the blood of the bull. There is no movement in Mithras facial expression. However, movement is visible through Mithras cape. Also you can see the bulls hind leg is tense to illustrate a struggle; this is also the same situation in the rib cage, and neck area.
Mithra's birth, Unknown/Neznan, From the collection of: Pokrajinski muzej Ptuj- Ormož
This a sculpture was intended to be a shrine and is kept in situ. Situ is a Latin phrase that translates literally to "on site" or "in position". It means "locally", "on site", "on the premises" or "in place" to describe an event where it takes place, and is used in many different contexts. Depicted is the birth of Mithras. The sculpture has a base and a solid statue with dimensions of 46w x 97h x 31d cm. It consists of votive stones with inscriptions and relief showing myths and attributes related to Mithras. In both hands you can see Mithras is holding some sort of object, and his body is an sloped or contorted fashion. In the center of the sculpture on the altar Mithras is represented being born from the rock. Movement is in the contortion that Mithras waist and body seems to be placed in. Movement is prevalent when one looks closely to the snake as it coils up and around itself. The only pattern I found in this sculpture is the design that rests in the rock itself. How it has the same jagged and yet slightly rounded tips.
Relief depicting the god Mithra slaying a bull, Unknown, Roman (Parthian) Period, 2nd century CE - Roman (Parthian) Period, 3rd century CE, From the collection of: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
This next piece of Artwork is a relief that was curated by Laura A Peri, which depicts the slaying of a bull by the mythical Mithras. The relief’s dimensions are 65.7 w x 49 h x 9.5 th cm an it was created out of limestone in the Roman (Parthian) age. Reliefs such as these are rare. There is an overwhelming amount of both movement and patterns in this relief. Take a look at Mithras clothing pattern and other characters. You can see the similarities, how there is either a curved line pattern that is used for Mithras clothing. And the characters in the background and to both sides of the relief have a V-like pattern to their clothing. Mithras is seen here once again on-top of the bull with the bull and Mithras in the same positions with minor changes. Focus around Mithras’ head and in his background; you can identify a bird like creature dipping its head out of sight. Directly to the right you see an interaction between two different sorts of beings. You can also locate workers to the right and left of the Mithras near the bottom third. You can see on character also fighting a bull hold it by its hind legs on the right, and two characters working with on another to carry some sort of item.
Statuette of Mithras on Horseback, Unknown, 1st - 2nd century, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
Depicted in this sculpture is Mithras riding on horseback, which is titled Statuette of Mithras dates between the 1st and 2nd Century of the Roman Empire. It is made from bronze and stands 6 cm high. The horse has the strongest show when it comes to movement, look at its front right leg, and also its left hind leg there are unison as one would see in the real world as a horse strides along. There is a pattern of straight lines seen all over Mithras’ attire. On his cape they are all vertical, in the chest area they are more horizontal. The artists also utilize curved lines if you look at the horses neck, also mane and Mithras right arm you can see this. There is also a pattern of angled lines seen on the horses side. My theory is that they were supposed to show muscle tension. You be the judge, and let me know your theories and we can discuss.
Mithraic medallion depicting Mithras and the primal bull, Unknown, Late Roman period, 3rd century CE, From the collection of: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
This Late Roman period Medallion also depicts Mithras slaying the bull just in less detail as we have previously seen. But it remains a wonderful piece of the 3rd century, and it is 7.5 cm in diameter. Depicted in the upper portion is Mithras doing the slaying the bull, releasing its blood to the to the world underneath. Once again the position of the characters in the scene are the same, with the leg and muzzle grabbing, also the thrust of the sword. You can quickly sight motion in Mithras and the bull once again from the position, it to is in the same manner as the rest. Pattern is most evident in this piece. How all the shapes of the heads share an oblong spherical like shape and the bodies are more rectangular in form.
Grave Naiskos of a Seated Man, Unknown, about 75 B.C., From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
This marble Greek relief sculpture formed the back wall of a small three sided funerary grave markers. These grave markers are known as Naiskos; which were often applied by the Ancient Greeks to serve as an artificial motif. Depicted is a man in a quiet manner with his cheek rested on his fist, which is resting on a walking stick. Underneath his chair you can locate a mythological creature, along with a snake that is coiling up what seems to be a tree directly on the right hand side of the relief. Once again movement is evident in the snakes top third. It’s as if the sculpture was showing movement by the disruption of the rest of the snake’s body, which is still coiled at the base of the tree.
The Bear Hunt, Peter Paul Rubens and Workshop, Frans Snyders and Workshop, 1639 - 1640, From the collection of: North Carolina Museum of Art
The Bear Hunt by Peter Paul Rubens is my favorite. It is a oil on wood sketch/painting from 1639. This was originally one of eighteen of Peters Rubens sketches for a series of paintings that were to hang in the halls of the Alcazar Palace in Seville. Depicted is a bear attack on a hunter and a second bear being fended off by his accomplices. Without the tremendous technique used to illustrate the forces at work through movement this painting would not be the same. Take a close look at the dogs in the bottom right hand side of the painting, how the bodies are placed. And then directly up at the guy playing some type of wind instrument. How his cheek is expanded from blowing, and his rear leg tensed up and in motion. Also look at the horses as they leap into the air both afraid in their own right. The pattern that I find in this panting would be in the technique used for the eyes. There seems to be a minimalistic approach to them, which worked well. There is no full detail, just a light spot and darker or shaded spot, which are true works of art when you look at them individually they take you to a different location of the painting.
Falcon-Headed God in Pose of "Soul of Pe", Unknown, Third Intermediate period, Dynasty 22, 945 - 712 B.C., From the collection of: Cincinnati Art Museum
In Ancient Egypt there were to two spiritual beings which were the souls of Pe and Dep. Depicted is the soul of Pe a falcon and jackal headed male figure represented as balancing on one knee with one fist clinched on the chest and the other rose in the air. There is some sort of pattern or engraving on the entire surface of the body, which was deliberately roughened believed to be to help secure an over lay of sheet gold. The hair/wig of this statue has recessed strips identical in placement from the left side to the right side. It is said that previously the ancient Egyptians would inlay colored stones or glass in these areas, I believe they would of followed some type of pattern respectfully. There is no movement is this artwork, however the clinched fist and raised biceps area shows flexing of the muscle and tension.
David with the Head of Goliath, Bernardo Strozzi (Italian, b.1581, d.1644), Circa 1636, From the collection of: Cincinnati Art Museum
The story of David and Goliath is well known all around the world and I feel no need to explain, although if you are unfamiliar with it. Please feel free to send me an email and we can discuss it further. Depicted is David holding the head of Goliath by the hair. David is not concentrated on the head but rather looking up, while holding a sword his is right hand. The main pattern I see when I look at this painting is the use of red. David has red hair, accented by his rose red check, red feather, and red strap, which is over his right shoulder attached to his satchel. When it comes to movement there is honestly is very little and by little I mean its only located in the tips of the feathers. The painter seemed to make the tips a bit lighter in contrast/hue compared to the more central area of the feathers red, and the blotchy areas all the way at the top of the feather. How they loose visibility and begin to blend with the background, just like a feather would in real life with the slightest of movement.
A Heroic Japanese Water Margin: Hakamadare no Yasusuke, Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ca. 1843, From the collection of: National Museum of Asian Art
Utagawa Kuniyoshi was one of the greatest of the Japanese ukiyo-e style of woodblock prints and paints. Ukiyo-e style means pictures of the floating world a japan art form from the 17th though 19th century. Depicted in this woodblock print which consists of ink and color on paper is a Samurai standing on a wave of water wearing an elegant robe of sorts staring of to his right. The samurai himself is in a stand still position but movement is found the waves and the tips of the water. The repeated use of curved lines is a technique used to show the flow of the wave.
Heroes (Bogatyri), Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881 - 1898, From the collection of: The State Tretyakov Gallery
Heroes (Bogatyrs) by Viktor Vasnetsov is a 1898 oil on canvas painting, which depicts three of the most famous bogatyrs, Dobrynya Nikitich, Alyosha Poppvich, and llya Muromet. Bogatyrs are folk heroes and characters of many East Slavic Medieval poems. The type of the day of this scene is showcased as windy. This is done by the use of movement, which is showcased in the horses tails, and manes. These men seem to be searching for something and when I look at this painting, I believe it’s a fight. I say so because of the gesture that Victor uses for the hero on the left hand side. How he is either unwielding or what it looks like wielding his sword in preparation for what approaches. The trees and distant long grass in the background of the character’s follows a minimalistic approach and pattern in brush strokes from one another. This technique is a great way to show distance, for example compare the detail to the little trees and shrubbery growing in the foreground right in front of the horses and compare them to the ones further away.
Bacchant and Bacchante with a Cupid, Clodion (French, b.1738, d.1814), 1799, From the collection of: Cincinnati Art Museum
The sculptor Claude Michel also known as Clodion sculpted Bacchant and Bacchante with a Cupid in 1799, and it is a marvelous piece of artwork created from terracotta. Depicted are two followers of an Ancient Roman God wine named Bacchus who is in a drunken ecstatic ritual dance. There is a lot of movement in this sculpture that are well represented in the complexity of the texture of flesh, drapery, and hair. The long hair of the goddess is curved while the head is slighted tilted down. The mans muscle’s are tensed with his hands wrapped around her, whilst his back is arched, with his head slightly tilted up looking at her as he expresses emotion through his mouth movement in a manner that suggests laughter and joy. There is also what appears to be a spill of wine that is located at the base of the sculpture, and if you look closely you will see this flow of liquid is occurring out of the spout.
Marine Scene, Gerard van Opstal, about 1640, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
Gerald van Opstal created this one out of five series of relief panels portraying a marine scene on alabaster (a fine-grained, translucent form of gypsum, typically white, often carved into ornaments) around 1640. Depicted are five-bearded fisherman and six winged putti hauling in a net of fish aboard their boat. (Putt noun-Putti: is a representation of a naked child, especially a cherub or a cupid in Renaissance art.) Movement is represented by the strenuous exertions that all the men and winged putti have, along with the positioning of the fish them selves. As I glance closely I can the see the in position of the characters bodies as I follow the curves and placements of their backs I can see exertion being displayed. The clothing also adds movement by how they are bunched up at certain locations depending on the characters actions. The pattern or likeliness that Gerald seems to use is on the putti and their stomachs. If you look closely you will see that all their stomach seem to protrude more than the men’s in real world type of way and this effect is vital to this panel. If the putti were to be muscular and of different shape and form I don’t believe they would resemble nor would the viewer believe them to be putti.
Mars with Cupid, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) (Italian, b.1591, d.1666), 1649, From the collection of: Cincinnati Art Museum
Giovanni Francesco Barbieri also known as Guercinos painted Mars with Cupid using oil on canvas in 1649. This was one of a pair of images painted for a military general. The second part of this commission was a painting of Venus and Cupid which is now forever lost. Depicted in this painting is Mars looking to left with his shield on the ground beside him and sword laying on top of the shield. A petti of Cupid is flying in the upper left corner of the canvas in front of a dark background. However, on the right hand side of the canvas you see what seems to be a battle going on in the distance. Just as seen before with the feathers of David in the David and Goliath painting. Movement of Mars’s head is illustrated by the feathers on top of his helmet just like that of David’s with the tips not as detailed than the rest of the feathers and blending in with the rest of the painting. Mars is contorted in way with his right hand over his left leg while his left hand holds his body up and in position on the rock on which he is sitting on.
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