Egyptian Art Lesson - Painting
Painting of Ancient Egypt
Most of the painting of Ancient Egypt that has survived were found in tombs of the pharaohs or high governmental officials. The art is know as funerary art because it is in tombs and depicts scenes of the afterlife. Tomb paintings were of everyday life until the New Kingdom about 1550 BC to 1020 BC. During the New Kingdom the the paintings showed different levels of the Egyptian society as well as items the deceased would need in the after life. (Marceau, 1997) For example servants, boats, and food would be painted to help the deceased in their trip through the after life. "To assist the dead person in his or her transition before the tribunal of Osiris was the Book of the Dead, a roll of papyrus containing religious, and magical text." (pg. 24, Marceau, 1997) This and other items left in the tomb would assist the deceased in their journey in the after life.
Much of the Egyptian painting was a mixture of sculpted reliefs which were painted. Meaning the Egyptians would first carve the rock and then paint the scene over the carved surface. Egyptian depiction of people is very consistent in their proportions and views of the people. The reason is that the Egyptians used a formula to paint people. "Egyptians artists used this method to keep figures in proportion. They divided a sheet of papyrus into nineteen rows of squares. Then they drew the figure using the first three rows of squares for the area between the forehead and the neck, the next for the shoulder to the knee, and the last six for the lower limbs and feet." (pg.11, Romei, 1995) In this way human paintings from different artist over a long period of time retained the same appearance.