Explain the concepts of profile view and composite view in representing animals in Paleolithic art. How do these ideas apply to the caves at Lascaux and Chauvet?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Profile view with regard to Paleolithic animal paintings refers to figures that are shown from the side rather than the front, while composite view combines the frontal and profile views so that part of the animal is facing forward while the other part is turned to the side. Sometimes, for instance, a bull or bison is shown completely from the side as if he were standing at a ninety-degree angle from the viewer, who sees the animal looking off to their right or left. This is the profile view. Other times, the animal's body is in profile while the artist tilts the animal's horns so that they appear to be facing directly at the viewer, who can see both of them straight on rather than just one or both from the side. This is the composite view.

The Lascaux cave paintings in France show animals depicted in both the profile and composite views. Horses, for instance, are drawn completely from the side, with their faces looking away from the viewer, but horned animals (bulls, probably) are drawn in composite. We see their bodies from the side, but their horns are facing forward toward us, as though the artist really wanted to capture the power of the animal by showing both of its horns straight on.

The Chauvet cave paintings also in France show animals primarily in the profile view. Even horned animals are drawn this way. Both horns are shown, but they are clearly facing to the side rather than to the front.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial