Ancient Egyptian Art – Introduction

Egyptian Art!

It’s time to discover one of the most fascinating and mysterious art style: the Ancient Egyptian Art

Let’s start! Ancient Egyptian Art Introduction

Hi Art lovers!

We made many steps together exploring visual arts and today we reached one of the most fascinating, and often still mysterious, topic: the Ancient Egyptian Art.

It refers to art produced in ancient Egypt between the 31st century BC and the 30 BC. It includes sculptures, architecture, paintings, but also drawings on papyrus, faience, jewelry, ivories and many other creations. What it is really interesting is that the art style changed very little over time. This is even more surprising if we consider that Egypt history developed in more than 3000 years.

Ancient Egyptian papyrus

How did it start?

But there are reasons: first of all the society was for sure very conservative, but it is true also that the deserts and the sea, which protected Egypt on all sides, contributed to protect the territory and culture. The stability was helped also thanks to the Nile that allowed to have the most predictable agricultural system in the ancient world and very fertile lands.

These combinations of elements helped to build a strong Reign. Reign that, after 3000 years of prehistory, evolved in other 3000 years of what is called Dynastic Period: the era of the kings that started with the unification of the Upper and Lower Egypt and the one that we are going to explore together. Let me explain better and make the events in order 🙂

Pre-Dynastic Egypt corresponds to the Neolithic period of the prehistory of Egypt, spanned from around 6000 BC to the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period, around 3100 BC.

Dynastic Period starts around 3100 BC and it ends in 30 BC when Egypt became part of the Roman Empire.

Art in Egypt

Like often I repeat, we always need to contextualize the art we are looking at. When we think to Egyptian Art we probably think to works of art full of symbolism and, because of that, mysterious. But also static, strangely abstract and formal. This is even more evident if we compare it to other “naturalistic” styles like the Classic Greek. However, the Egyptian Art had simply a different purpose since, most of it, was designed to benefit a divine or deceased recipient and not really communicate with a “live audience”.

That is fundamental to understand this style. Art was a religious tool useful to move to another level of life. Because of that vision, Egyptian Art portrayed an idealized, unrealistic view of the world.

One of the best examples of how the world was idealized is the use of hierarchical proportions. The size of figures indicates their relative importance. The gods or the pharaoh are usually larger than other figures, after them there are high officials or tomb owners. At the smallest scale are servants, animals, trees and architectural details.

Tomb of Nakht, Ancient Egyptian Art
Tomb of Nakht

Conventions

As we can see in the picture above, another feature was to depict the figures with  legs and head in profile, but the torso seen as from the front.

Another conventions is to make males’ figures darker than females’ and we will see in the next episodes how colors had a deep meaning.

We will discover more also about sculpture, both monumental and small works. Egyptian Art used a lot the relief because it was a very efficient way to communicate the religious rituals and there are many surprises.

And in our path we cannot skip architecture, since Egyptians made some of the most amazing temples in art history and, of course, the pyramids. And all of them were made with bricks and stones fit together without using mud or mortar!

It is clear we are going to discover a lot more in the next posts, so stay curious and let’s start to explore Egyptian Art! Ancient Egyptian Art Introduction

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More info and pics on my Youtube video

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