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Today we stand in line and buy tickets to see the artwork of Ancient Egypt. We awe at it's beauty, it's ornate decoration of gold or jewels, and marvel at it's rich color.  This is ironic as most artwork created during the Egyptian period was never meant to be seen. It was created to serve the deceased as they crossed over to the afterlife. Statues faced forward to welcome the ritual. Scenes depicted on walls were organized by parallel registers as if they were meant to be read like lines in a book. Art created during this period was very purposeful, even down to the size of the figures depicted.  The bigger the figure, the more importance or significance it held in the artwork.

Did you know?
Most of the artwork we see in museums from the Egyptian time period was created in workshops owned or commissioned by kings and rulers. These workshops would create artwork in preparation for the passing of their rulers, however the rituals were practiced by the lower class as well, not just the elite. Many museums have basements full of artwork such as coffins, tombstones, small statues and other items needed to cross into the afterlife created by the lower status. These items tend to be less pristine and less perfect than as those created in the elite workshops, so they rarely get displayed, however they are still preserved and kept to study and learn from.

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Below is some basic information on Egyptian Art and its characteristics and influences. If you would like to print off a copy of this page along with samples of art from this period, you can download the Egyptian Art Summary above.

Quick Facts:
  • Art was created by paid craftsman (worked in teams with strict guidelines)

  • Art was both highly stylized and symbolic

  • Art wasn’t meant to be seen; it was created for the divine or deceased

Characteristics and/or Types of Art:
  • Wood sculptures (few still survive)

  • Art on papyrus

  • Jewelry

  • Tomb Paintings

  • Stone and ceramics

  • Highly religious civilization (multiple gods)

  • Belief in afterlife

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