What Is the Composite Pose in Art ?

The composite pose in Egyptian art shows members of high rank, including royalty, while people who are in the lower classes are portrayed more realistically, generally carrying out active tasks. A figure in composite pose usually appears in profile with feet, legs and hips turned to the side but with the torso facing forward, as in “The Palette of Narmer.” The heads are turned to show all of the essential human traits, such as the eyes, chin, forehead and nose, with the eyes shown from a front view as well.

“Ti Watching a Hippopotamus Hunt” is another piece of Egyptian art showing composite pose. Ti, the important figure in the scene, watches his servants slaughter prey. His size in the work and his presence at a hippopotamus hunt show his importance within his culture. While the hunters are actively working, Ti sits composed with a posture that is stiff and twisted, as required by the multiple perspectives of the piece. The hunters look more realistic as they go after the hippopotamus, lunging at their quarry. Composite pose was a popular artistic choice during the Middle Kingdom; in later periods, artistic choices changed somewhat, and it became more common for perspective to be shown in different ways.