Ø Egyptian art was a big influence on Greek, Roman, and even our contemporary life: our art, architecture, money, cosmetics, etc.
Ø The civilization of ancient Egypt lasted 3000 years. It had over 33 dynasties of ruling families, and can be divided into the:
· Old Kingdom c. 2649-2150 BC
· Middle Kingdom c. 2030-1640 BC
· New Kingdom c. 1550-1070 BC
· Late Period c. 712-332 BC
· Ptolemaic Period c. 332-30 BC
Ø Egyptian art is considered formal, static (meaning motionless), blocky, and abstract. It's simpler and possibly more childlike than Greek and Roman art, but this does not mean Egyptian artists were inferior. Their art served a different purpose.
Ø Egyptian art was not merely decorative. It was functional. If an artist forgot to paint a loaf of bread in a king's tomb, that king wouldn't have any bread in the afterlife. That is why it was so important to include everything he needed.
Ø This is also why Egyptians painted everything from its most recognizable angle. Faces were painted in profile, while eyes and shoulders were painted frontally.
Ø Egyptian art was not meant to be seen. Egyptians painted the walls of tombs and then sealed them, hiding the entrances to prevent thieves from stealing all the treasure within. So, their attitude to their art was different from ours today, where we put art in galleries for all to see.
Ø Egyptians painted stories in registers, meaning parallel lines, the way we write on paper today. Each line on the wall tells a different part of a story.
Ø Artists also used scale to create hierarchy. The biggest people in the paintings were gods and pharoahs. Common workers were painted very small because they were less important.
Ø Almost all Egyptian paintings include hieroglyphic text to explain the scene and the names of the characters.
Ø Egyptians were famous for their consistency. They kept the same style of fashion and art for their entire history, with only a few minor exceptions. Egyptians kept their artistic traditions to promote stability and balance in society and the world.
Ø However, Egyptian styles did vary depending on the materials used. Stone sculptures were very stiff and formal, with arms close to the sides of the body. But Egyptians also carved wooden figures doing all sorts of activities, looking much more realistic.
Ø Egyptian statues also served religious purposes. Some statues were even bathed, dressed, and carried in processions.
Ø Many Egyptian homes had small shrines to their ancestors. People would offer food, wine, and perfume at these shrines, and would write letters to their ancestors asking for help and advice.
Ø After the Egyptians, it took almost 4000 years for anyone to build something taller than their pyramids.