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Certainly temporal events are depicted, particularly in the New Kingdom, but the individual representations which go to make up a description of a historical event, such as Hatshepsut's expedition to Punt, are still images which describe no time. We can understand the progression of decoration in an ancient Egyptian tomb by analyzing the images present in KV57, the tomb of King Horemheb, the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.Space is also suggested only when it is necessary for the expression of an essential quality of the image,” explain William H. Work in this sepulcher stopped abruptly when he died. In KV57, the unfinished tomb of King Horemheb, one can see the progression of decoration, once the wall was plastered over.The sketches here are laid out in a plan form – first the junior artisan/scribe copied the required details in red ink, then the master made corrections in black; before the sculptor finally removed the background.In the last stage, the images and texts were carved in relief before being painted.Decorated jar depicting ungulates and boats with human figures. But they understood the import of representations in various media and linked their creations to serve religious and magical purposes.The images on this vessel represent important social or religious events. Its symbols and functions reveal the Egyptians’ beliefs about this world and the next.The couple adores Osiris and Nephthys in this stunning gold painted relief in their Memphite tomb.“On tomb walls that suggest a progression of locales from the Nile through the desert to the foothills, the notion to be conveyed is not 'the landscape' in modern terms, with the river in the foreground, plain in the middle and hills in the distance, but rather it is the idea of ‘the land’, comprised of these elements, that is meant.
However, the context and content of the extraordinary body of work produced by the Egyptians cannot be categorized merely as art for art’s sake; because their ultimate aim was to bind heaven and earth as one. ( Public Domain ) The ancient Egyptians did not have a single word that corresponded with our abstract use of the word ‘art’.In the Egyptian view, this image of a woman, Lady Sati, has a male face and hands because they are colored red—the “male” color. (Image: Brooklyn Museum ) A variety of colors—in the form of paints, pigments and precious stones—played a symbolic role in Egyptian art.This use of color magically transformed Sati into a male being which gave her access to transportation to the next life in the Sun god Ra’s boat. Statues were made of stone or other durable materials, such as hardwood or metal.(Clockwise) Double statue of Nimaasted, priest in the pyramid complexes (5th Dynasty, Saqqara); the Menkaure triad represents the king with goddess Hathor and a patron deity (4th Dynasty, Giza); dyad of Ra-Hotep and Nofret (4th Dynasty, Meidum). although largely funerary and religious, partly from accident of survival, the art of ancient Egypt is far from being funereal.(Bottom) This perfectly modeled statue depicts Khafre, the builder of the second largest pyramid, protected by Horus (4th Dynasty, Giza). On the contrary, it is so often a joyous evocation of life and its continuation into Eternity.” Aesthetic beauty, superior workmanship, and choice materials enhanced the potency of art right at the dawn of this civilization, as Dr Gay Robins informs, “Many of the fundamentals of Egyptian art were established at the very beginning of Egyptian history and changed little thereafter.” The 134 gigantic columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak Temple complex stand testament to a glorious bygone age when it was a pilgrimage spot for over two millennia. But the ancients did not endeavor to create pretty paintings and statues to fill their palaces, tombs and temples. “The ancient Egyptians did not recognize the concept of ‘art for art’s sake’; every single piece of their art was commissioned for a definite purpose and each image or statue had a deliberate and well-defined function.
[ Read Part II ] [Special thanks to Dr Chris Naunton , Heidi Kontkanen , John Bosch and Hossam Abbas for granting permission to use her photographs.