Egyptian painting

The oldest surviving examples of painting come from the times of ancient Egypt and were found on pottery fragments, linen fabric and on the walls of graves from the 4th millennium BC. The scenes depicted depicted the landscape of the Nile and abounded with images of animals, especially birds and fish, between which the silhouette of a man appeared.

From the very beginning, painting served both auxiliary functions and was an art in itself – statues were painted, reliefy, columns and scenes on the walls of temple buildings, as well as home interiors, but those mostly decorated were more modest. The surface, on which the painting was to be made, covered with a thin layer of smoothed lime mortar, on which the sketch of the depicted scene was then drawn with a red line. The contours were marked with a strong one, black line, and the resulting fields were filled in with color.

Egyptian artists painted with mineral paints – the following colors were used: charcoal black, whiteness with lime, yellow and red with ocher, blue with lapis lazuli and green with malachite. A gum arabic solution mixed with egg whites and a little water was used as a binder (this paint was called tempera). In the eighteenth dynasty, beeswax began to be used as a binder. For painting, brushes made of crushed reed were used, brushes made of connected reeds were used to fill larger areas, grasses and palm leaf fibers.

Old State

A canon was established during the Old Kingdom, according to which the artist tried to close the figure in the drawing v 18 rows of equal grids, by adding one row for the hair. Head and neck occupied two rows of grids, torso to the waist – four, from dog to belt – six, from knee to toe – six. The seated figure is shown in 15 rows. In addition, art was characterized by a lack of perspective and a characteristic way of presenting the human figure: head, arms and legs are shown in profile, eye and arms straight ahead, the torso is twisted. The ruler was always the greatest figure in the painting and, like the gods and other dignitaries, he was depicted as a beautiful and young man., perfectly built. Less important officials and ordinary people were presented more naturally, because the artists wanted mainly to show the activities they performed.

In the Old State, genre scenes dominated in painting, in which the main theme of the work was accompanied by a rich representation of nature. However, we will not find clouds in the sky or the image of the setting sun on the frescoes, for these views were, for Egyptian beliefs, an expression of the disruptive forces of demons, therefore they should not be captured in a picture. On the other hand, paintings depicting the figure of the deceased during a hunt were frequent, where the killed animals symbolized the defeated demons.

The flourishing of art

In the era of the Middle Kingdom, the artist tried to convey the emotional states and moods of his models, but it was only in the New Kingdom that art reached its greatest heyday. A new battle theme was then introduced, in which there were the most frequent war scenes depicting the triumphs of kings over their enemies or hunting, but also showing family life and everyday activities. Pharaoh was portrayed as the vanquisher of his country's enemies, he also protected the country from the elements, conflicts and aggression triggered by demons. So in the paintings he was shown how he wins, e.g.. wild bull or lion – confusion symbols. In addition, figures in motion began to be portrayed, and thanks to the use of a delicate line, the contours have lost their sharpness. Shapes have become less clunky, the bodies lost their stiffness and the figures became slimmer. Through the selection of halftones and the mixing of paints, an abundance of outfits also emerged, wigs and colors.

Amenhotep IV – a time of great reform

During the reign of Amenhotep IV, the state and art were reformed. Pharaoh recommended showing people as they are, with all its disadvantages and disadvantages, which gave rise to the Amaren style (from the name al Amarna, where was the ruler's residence). The family life of the ruler became a frequent subject of this style, like for example. a king riding a chariot with his wife or a princess eating a meal. Pharaoh's body began to be portrayed with realism and, despite the preservation of some canons (face in profile, eye from the front) the silhouette is shown according to reality. Among the famous paintings from this period is the fresco depicting the daughters of Amenhotep, where the bodies of daughters are shown with their beauty shortcomings highlighted, such as disproportionately slim calves, powerful thighs, muscle relaxation or elongation of the head.

In the following years, scenes were shown in the paintings, also in the tombs, are becoming more and more real and free, until the fall of the New Kingdom. Then the freedom achieved in the previous period is squandered by returning to the canons (e.g.. to the ritual coloring, for illustration of the Book of the Dead) in force at the beginning of painting, where the realism of the living world has no place.