Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ancient Egyptian Art, Part 4- Amarna Art

So far you have read about the paintings, carvings, and sculpture of ancient Egypt. In the art you have seen so far, people were always shown in perfect shape and health. The men looked muscular and masculine. Also, the art followed a formula so that the people were always in the right proportion.

During the Eighteenth Dynasty, Akhenaten (the pharaoh at the time) started a new art movement. We call it the Amarna Period. During the Amarna Period, the pharaoh, his family, and the people of Egypt were shown in a more realistic way.

In all types of art (paintings, carvings, sculpture), the pharaoh (and others) was shown with a long, thin face and a round skull. His chin always stuck out and his eyes were almond-shaped. He had a feminine round belly and wide hips. The pharaoh’s wife was shown in much the same way. It can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart.
Akhenaten was often shown with his daughters. In the artwork, he played with them and showed them affection. This kind of behavior was never shown in art during the other dynasties. Pharaohs thought it made them look weak so they didn’t want anyone to see that side of themselves. They were supposed to look like strong warriors. Akhenaten didn’t think the people of Egypt would think he was weak if he played with his children and loved his family so he wasn’t afraid to have artwork show it.
You’ll also notice that the sun is shown in many of the images of the pharaoh. That is the sun god, Aten. He is shown as a disc with many rays. The rays have hands that reach toward the pharaoh, surrounding Akhenaten in warmth and protection. Aten is the only god shown in art of the Amarna Period.

When the Eighteenth Dynasty ended, Egyptian art reverted back to what it had been before Akhenaten.

EDITED TO ADD: Part 5- Fayum Portraits

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Peter said...

A very different pharaoh; had not realised how his reign also innfluenced art. Thanks! Very interesting!

Jessica said...

He really came in and shook up the place, didn't he? But when the next pharaoh abandoned Akhenaten'c capital city and returned to the usual Egyptian capital, it was easy to destroy a lot of the monuments and artwork.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these great pictures