Egyptian People in Art

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The conventions of ancient Egyptian art were kept constant for more than a millennium, especially the depictions of Egyptian people in art. Artists followed specific traditions when depicting specific people in their art, which reflected Egyptian ideals and cultural beliefs.

Men

  • Men's shoulders and torso were typically frontal while the rest of their body stood in profile. Kings appeared much taller than any other men depicted in paintings, as size served as a measurement of high office or social status. Skin tone also served that purpose, with black skin representing power or rebirth, brown skin representing masculinity and white skin representing death. One example of an important Egyptian man depicted in paintings was King Tutankhamen.

Women

  • In Egyptian paintings, artists typically depicted a woman's skin tone as yellow, because the color represented physical weakness as opposed to men. An exception to this rule was for queens or high-status women, who artists painted with a darker or black skin tone, such as Ahmose-Nefertari, wife of ruler Ahmose. Artists painted higher status females with various regalia, such as large headdresses and and royal garments.

Children and Adolescents

  • Artists depicted children nude in Egyptian paintings. Artists showed very young children with an index finger near or in their mouth. Children also displayed the "lock of youth," a braided strand of hair shown on one side. Artists painted adolescents, on the other hand, with garments and adult hairstyles. Artists depicted adolescents at about the same height as children or a bit taller. Both children and adolescents were much shorter than their parents in paintings.

Common Properties

  • Although artists depicted heads in profile in Egyptian paintings, artists displayed the eyes and brows frontally, giving the portrait an unconventional, even strange look. The posterior, legs and feet would meanwhile be in profile. The reason is that the Egyptians did not strive to paint figures for anatomical correctness, but to paint from their own perspective of the human body, giving body elements of most importance a frontal view.

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References

  • Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
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