what is ancient egyptian art
A lot of what we know about the Ancient Egyptians comes from their art. From the many pieces of art they created we can learn things like what they looked like, what kind of clothes they wore, what jobs they worked, and what they considered important.
Interesting Facts about Ancient Egyptian Art
- They mostly used the colors blue, black, red, green, and gold in their paintings.
- A lot of Egyptian art depicted the pharaohs. This was often in a religious sense as the pharaohs were considered gods.
- Many of the paintings of Ancient Egypt survived for so many thousands of years because of the extremely dry climate of the area.
- Small carved models were sometimes included inside tombs. These included slaves, animals, boats, and buildings that the person may need in the afterlife.
- A majority of the art hidden in tombs was stolen by thieves over thousands of years.
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Timespan (3000 BC – AD 300) and purpose (to obtain eternity)
The human body offers one of the distinctive tests for a visual (re-)presentation of the world, and best demonstrates the deconstructive-reconstructive procedure underlying Egyptian formal art.
The Hyksos were finally driven out by the Theban prince Ahmose I (c. 1570-1544 BCE) whose rule begins the period of the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1570 – c. 1069 BCE). The New Kingdom is the most famous era of Egyptian history with the best-known rulers and most recognizable artwork. The colossal statues which were initiated in the Middle Kingdom became more common during this time, the temple of Karnak with its great Hypostyle Hall was expanded regularly, the Egyptian Book of the Dead was copied with accompanying illustrations for more and more people, and funerary objects like shabti dolls were of higher quality.
Amenhotep III’s son, Amenhotep IV, is better known as Akhenaten (1353-1336 BCE), the name he chose after devoting himself to the god Aten and abolishing the ancient religious traditions of the country. During this time (known as the Amarna Period) art returned to the realism of the Middle Kingdom. From the beginning of the New Kingdom, artistic representations had again moved toward the ideal. During the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE), although the queen is depicted realistically, most portraits of nobility show the idealism of Old Kingdom sensibilities with heart-shaped faces and smiles. The art of the Amarna period is so realistic that modern-day scholars have been able to reasonably suggest what physical ailments people in the pictures probably suffered from.
During the Middle Kingdom the use of sunk relief came into fashion, and in the 18th and early 19th Dynasties it was employed to great effect. The background was not cut away as in low relief to leave the figures standing above the level of the rest of the surface. Instead the relief design was cut down into the smoothed surface of the stone. In the strong Egyptian sunlight the carved detail would stand out well, but the sunk relief was better protected from the weather and was therefore more durable.
NOTE: In addition to pyramid architecture, stone sculpture, goldsmithing and the Fayum Mummy portraits, Egyptian craftsmen are also noted for their ancient pottery, especially Egyptian faience, a non-clay-based ceramic art developed in Egypt from 1500 BCE, although it began in Mesopotamia. The oldest surviving faience workshop, complete with advanced lined brick kilns, was found at Abydos in the mid-Nile area. Egyptian faience is a non-clay based ceramic composed of powdered quartz or sand, covered with a vitreous coating, often made with copper pigments to give a transparent blue or blue-green sheen. See Pottery Timeline.
For the purposes of definition, “ancient Egyptian” is essentially coterminous with pharaonic Egypt, the dynastic structure of Egyptian history, artificial though it may partly be, providing a convenient chronological framework. The distinctive periods are: Predynastic (c. 6th millennium bce –c. 2925 bce ); Early Dynastic (1st–3rd dynasties, c. 2925–c. 2575 bce ); Old Kingdom (4th–8th dynasties, c. 2575–c. 2130 bce ); First Intermediate (9th–11th dynasties, c. 2130–1939 bce ); Middle Kingdom (12th–14th dynasties, 1938–c. 1630 bce ); Second Intermediate (15th–17th dynasties, c. 1630–1540 bce ); New Kingdom (18th–20th dynasties, 1539–1075 bce ); Third Intermediate (21st–25th dynasties, c. 1075–656 bce ); and Late (26th–31st dynasties, 664–332 bce ).
Egyptian art and architecture, the ancient architectural monuments, sculptures, paintings, and decorative crafts produced mainly during the dynastic periods of the first three millennia bce in the Nile valley regions of Egypt and Nubia. The course of art in Egypt paralleled to a large extent the country’s political history, but it depended as well on the entrenched belief in the permanence of the natural, divinely ordained order. Artistic achievement in both architecture and representational art aimed at the preservation of forms and conventions that were held to reflect the perfection of the world at the primordial moment of creation and to embody the correct relationship between humankind, the king, and the pantheon of the gods. For this reason, Egyptian art appears outwardly resistant to development and the exercise of individual artistic judgment, but Egyptian artisans of every historical period found different solutions for the conceptual challenges posed to them.