Art is an expression of life. It is intertwined with the evolution of man.
In Ancient Egypt, Art began with the drawing of images of animals, trees, human beings, and supernatural figures on rock walls in the predynastic period (6000- 3150 BC). As its civilization progressed, art was practiced for religious purposes (a representation of the afterlife and the gods), with the function of conveying the strength and leadership of the Pharaohs or gods depicting balance, a function that was made to remind one of the existences of eternal life and the value of personal and communal stability.
Early Dynastic Period Art (c. 3200-3000 BCE)
As civilization progressed, the art forms differed. In this time, there was a difference from the rock art practiced in the predynastic times and it began with the work known as “The Narmer Palette” which was created to celebrate the unification of the upper and Lower Egypt by King Narmer.
This story was told by the use of low skilled relief with engravings on a siltstone slab, shaped as a chevron shield with each symbol having its interpretations; a technique that was later used in the design of the pyramid complex of King Djoser which was the greatest work of art of the period by the architect Imhotep. It was in this period that the art of working in stone was mastered and three-dimensional life-sized statues were first made.
Old Kingdom Art(c. 2613-2181 BCE)
Arts in this time reflected the strong central government and economic prosperity of this early period which gave it uniformity. Attestations to it could be seen in monumental artworks like the Great Pyramid of Giza, ivory statue of King Khufu, the Sphinx, and elaborate tomb and temple paintings.
First Intermediate Period Art (2181-2040 BCE)
The chaotic events that occurred in this period following the collapse of the old kingdom were similarly depicted in the arts. As artworks were of poor quality due to the lack of funding, the art became a reflection of the culture of different districts.
There was increased production of crafts like amulets, coffins, ceramics, and shabti dolls which were important funerary objects. And in these times, these pieces became affordable to the low-class people.
Middle Kingdom Art (c. 2061-2010 BCE)
In this period the government regained its institution and economy power, so art became more emotional unlike the earlier periods where it was just an expression, creative, artistic, distinctive and sophisticated. These features were employed in the building of the tomb of Mentuhotep II which made it an organic work of art.
Art in this period was not restricted only to or for the noble class and this contributed to making the Middle Kingdom the high point of Egyptian culture.
Some refined jewelry pieces like the Senusret II pectoral that was significant and still is today, was made in this period.
Second Intermediate Period Art (c. 1782 – c. 1570 BC)
In this period the effectiveness faced depreciation as only the best artists who were royal artists were more skilled. Still, some fine works were created but they were in a smaller scale. The Egyptian Stela of Neferhotep was made in this period together with the expansion of the Karnak Temple, tomb paintings, statuary, temple reliefs, pectorals, headdresses, funerary objects and other jewelry of high quality.
New Kingdom Art
In this period, The Egyptian book of the dead was copied with illustrations for the people. This period is said to hold most of the recognizable artworks as along this period, the borders of the country expanded and different styles and techniques were introduced with quality. One of the works made in this period were the Colossi of Memnon, which were two enormous statues of the seated king (Amenhotep III) rising 60 ft (18 m) high and weighing 720 tons each, which are no longer found today.
The Amarna Period Art
During the Amarna period art riveted back to the realism of the Middle Kingdom and the idealism of the Old Kingdom arts. Most of the works made in this time were significant and are still famous till today. Three of the most famous works are; The Bust Of Queen Nefertiti (Akhenaten’s wife), the Golden Death Mask of Tutankhamun and The Tomb of King Tut.
The skills gotten from these periods were reflected in the artworks that were made in the later periods. Although art was still affected by the time and resources, the Kushitevs, Persians, Ptolemies and Romans still kept to the Egyptian themes and their arts came to influence European understanding, techniques, and style.
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