The Ancient Egyptians used art to idealise the subject being depicted.
Therefore the paintings of Ancient Egypt, seen on tomb walls, always
conveyed a happy and orderly lifestyle. All figures were depicted as
young and healthy and no one suffered from a middle-age spread or
Ancient Egyptian Art
Traditionally, the figures of humans were drawn in profile
but with one eye and both shoulders shown frontally. The largest figure
shown on tomb paintings was that of the occupant - regardless of the
actual height of the deceased.
Ancient Egyptian art is characterized by the use of simple lines and
simple shapes to create the concept of order and balance. Horizontal and
vertical reference lines were used by artists in order to maintain
correct proportions of the images. This art style resulted in somewhat
stilted forms which were caused by a lack of perspective. This art style
was used for thousands of years. The only change was during the
transient Armana art period.
Egyptian Art -
The colors used in paintings
traditionally showed that the body of a man was painted as a dark
reddish-brown color whereas the body of a woman was painted as lighter,
yellowish-brown color. These differences in colors represented the
mainly outdoor life of a man as opposed to the more secluded lifestyle
of a woman. Six basic colors were used in Ancient Egyptian art - white,
black, red, yellow, blue and green.
A tiny pestle and mortar was used for grinding colors.
The colors used were symbolic and
all had different meanings.
White - White
represented purity, power and greatness, a sacred color
Black - Black
represented death and the night
Red - Red
represented life and victory. It was also used to convey
Yellow - Yellow
was often used to represent gold and therefore used to
convey that the subject was
imperishable and indestructible. The
eternal color used to depict the the sun god
Blue - Blue
represented water, the sky, life, fertility and re-birth
Green - Green
was the color of vegetation and represented new life
The symbolism of the colors
was used to great effect when depicting the images and characteristics
of the various Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses.
Egyptian Art -
Painting and Sculpture
The statues and bas-reliefs which decorated
the temples and tombs of Ancient Egypt and made of sandstone, limestone
or wood were usually painted when they were completed.
The natural color of stones such as granite, basalt, diorite and
alabaster were also used instead of paint. The sculptor therefore
produced the statue or prepared the tomb surface and his work was
followed by that of the painter. Gifted artists were adept at both
sculpting and painting.
Egyptian Art - Drawing and
The style of drawing and composition was taught by constant practise.
The master would set his students the task of copying the same image
repeatedly, until an exact replica could be reproduced. Once the basic
drawing and composition skills had been learnt then the student would
study people as stylised likenesses would need to be reproduced
reflecting the visual impression of the subject being painted or
sculptured. The movements and characteristics of different
kinds of animals were also studied. Ancient Egyptian art students reproduced their
work in black and the master corrected any errors in red ink.
Drawing and Composition - the Student and the Tools
Students made their first attempts
upon slabs of limestone or on drawing boards and any item of no value. Reeds
were used as tools to paint with. The end of
the reeds were dipped in water creating brushes which varied in size
according to the size of the stem. The artists used wooden palettes
oblong in shape which contained a groove where the brush
could be rested. A cup of water was also required to clean the brush.
Egyptian Art System and Lack of
All subjects were depicted in
profile against a flat background. Their object,
therefore, was to select forms which presented a characteristic outline
capable of being reproduced in pure line upon a flat surface. The head
was not drawn as full face, it was drawn in profile but with a full-face
eye. This was necessary as a person cannot be satisfactorily reproduced
the use lines as the form of the forehead, nose and the ear, disappear when the head is drawn full
face. The two arms had to be visible to right and left of the
body. The body was depicted in three-quarters
view. The legs show to the best advantage when seen sidewise, so they
are always depicted in this style. The
art style of the Ancient Egyptians therefore used a combination of all
these views of their subjects. The figures and images therefore produced
by the Ancient Egyptians used their own rules of
perspective, completely different to modern perspective rules.
Each section of this Egyptian website addresses all topics and
provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of
Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details
of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Egypt, the Ancient Egyptians and of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, King Tut.