Ancient Egyptian Art To understand ancient Egypt, one must understand ancient Egyptian art. Studying ancient Egyptian art, one can understand how they lived, worked and what they believed in including religion. The ancient Egyptians also believed in the afterlife so tomb painting, was also an important part of ancient Egyptian art. The ancient Egyptians made their paintbrushes from either coarse palm leaves or knotted rope that was beaten at one end to form stiff bristles.
Paint was made from finely ground minerals mixed with vegetable gum or egg. Yellow and red came from yellow and red ochre. White paint came from chalk or gypsum. Green was a mixture of blue powdered copper and yellow ochre.
Black paint came from soot and blue paint came from the lapis lazuli stone or was made from a compound of silica, copper, and calcium. The Egyptians began to use a palette and began mixing colors. They made gray from black and white, pink from red and white, and brown from red and black (James 12). If the surface they were painting on was too rough, it was coated with a layer of chalky liquid that dried to make a hard surface smooth (James 10-12).
The artists were technicians, classified together with metal smiths, carpenters and quarrymen, who created the tomb. The artists were always left anonymous. The tomb decorations were always done collaboratively under the supervision of one master (James 8). The people in Egyptian painting look differently then what we know today. Men were painted a reddish-brown tone and women were painted a pale yellow tone.
Important people were painted larger than others. Heads, arms and legs were shown from the side. Eyes and the top half of the body was shown from the front. A foot was always shown from the inner side (Powell 32-33). "The Egyptians believed that this combination of views gave the most complete image" (Powell 33).
The pictures of the men never grasped an object in their hands for fear of getting their fingers caught behind an object. The hands are placed above or below an object, so all fingers are shown (David 67). People were shown in different sizes on walls depending on status. Children were important people, which made them the largest figures. But the tomb owner and his wife were the largest in relation to their children, servants and their peasants (David 68). Ancient Egyptians believed greatly in the afterlife.
The deceased were mummified and placed in a tomb. They were buried with items that would be needed for the afterlife. The tomb was considered a house for eternity. There were two ways to bury a person properly. "First, great attention was paid to representing in minute detail in situation they desired... They are symbolic representations of a "perfect man" and his family" (David 66).
The scenes also comprised of people that would help the deceased in the afterlife. This included servants, bakers, brewers, laborers, dancing girls, musicians, and whatever else the deceased person enjoyed (David 66). The tombs also included scenes showing regular everyday jobs such as plowing, harvesting, sowing, and storing grain (Powell 33). The walls on the tombs were horizontally divided into registers, which gave a series of events (James 13).
"For example, in one scene persons of lower rank are shown standing slightly lower ground-line than their superiors" (David 68). The second way was to show the tomb owners occupation, and play. .".. Provided the deceased with a set of activities which he could animate and enjoy at will. This ceremony was known as the 'Opening of the Mouth'" (David 67). Ancient Egyptians respected their art to the fullest extent.
The artists worked hard in order to please the tomb owners. Understanding ancient Egyptian art helps to understand the ancient Egyptian culture. Work Cited David, Rosalie, A. (1988). The Making of the Past The Egyptian Kingdoms, New York: Peter Bedrock Books. James, T.
G. H. (1994). Egyptian Painting, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Powell, Jillian.
(1994). Ancient Art, New York: Thomson Learning.