« PrejšnjaNaprej »
EGYPTIAN ARTS. Sculpture, Painting and Minor Arts.-- Sculptors were numerous and very prolific. Several great collections of extant works
have been made in modern times; of these the greatest is that of the Museum of Ghizeh, next come those of the Louvre, British Museum, the Vatican, Florence, Turin, The Hague and Berlin. Many works, however, are still in situ, in the temples and tombs, both colossal statuary and series of reliefs. Of the Old Empire all the sculptures have been found in tombs. They are realistic and are of value as portraits. In the Middle Empire the official and colossal style was developed in connection with temple architecture reaching its greatest period under the Rameses and Setis of the New Empire. Plastic art was early employed to illustrate the daily life of the subject. Each tomb contained a representation in detail of the person, family and occupation of the deceased, and near the tomb were statues of him or her as they appeared in life. Under the New Empire sunken relief and outline relief come into vogue. Methods of quarrying, carving, polishing and finishing sculptures are represented in these styles together with others. Wood was used in sculpture as is testified by the number of wooden statues remaining, some dating from the Old Empire, the most noteworthy bei the famous figure, Sheik-El-Beled. Red granite and basalt were favorite material for statuary, while limestone and sandstone were used more in relief. Red porphyry was especially popular in the later periods. The representation was purely conventional, for the purpose of conveying an idea and not creating an illusion. Perspective was avoided in scenes where several planes of figures appear, the rows being raised one above another. Despite their lack of realism the sculptors were careful of detail. The earliest work of sculpture is the famous Sphinx of Ghizeh now disintegrating under the changed climate. A common portrait is the seated group of husband and wife, found through all the remains of the Old and Middle Empires. The representation of divinities was usually effected by placing an animal's head on a human body, a jackal's head for Anubis; a hawk's for Horus, etc. The gods were worshipped on the opposite walls of a temple and the image of the god was repeated several hundred times on the walls and columns and on the outer pylons. There were also small images of the gods in bronze, glazed earth, etc., used for objects of devotion. Another theme might be termed the political; consisting of the giant king, at whose feet cower many captives. There was little variation in the several representations during long periods. Of particular interest are the reliefs and paintings on the tombs of private persons. A tomb of the Middle Empire represents the migration of a tribe in all its details showing how traveling was done in the age of Moses. Under the New Empire there was a change to the stiff and colossal. Greek art was introduced under the Ptolemies and had a profound influence on Egyptian forms. Painting in ancient Egypt can hardly be called an independent art, being largely an adjunct to architecture. Wall paintings were popular from the 5th to the 13th dynasty and closely resemble the reliefs of the same period in theme and treatment. In portrait sculpture the Egyptians at
tained extraordinary perfection at an early date, the skill with which they worked in hard stone, such as diorite and basalt, being surprising. Some of the early statues are of colossal size, but a higher style of art is shown in those of ordinary size, though a certain conventional treatment is always apparent. The most usual kind of mural sculpture, a kind peculiar to the Egyptians, is that known as hollow or sunk relief (cavo-rilievo). The general outline of the object intended to be represented is cut into the smooth surface of the stone, while at the same time the minor forms and rotundity are represented within the incised outline. By this contrivance the details of the sculptures are protected. Sometimes the outline is excessively deep, at others the surface of the figures is altogether much lower than the general surface of the wall, and in others the outline is but slightly incised with a corresponding fatness within. Wherever the Egyptians practised the true basrelief the sculpture is almost invariably in very low relief. The back view of the human figure is never represented in the sculptures excepting in the case of an enemy, and then rarely; the figure is generally represented in profile, and there are but few attempts at delineating the front view of the foot or of the face; however, whether the face be represented in front or side view, a profile eye is never found. The figures of the king in battle-pieces, and of the landed proprietor in domestic scenes, are always on a much larger scale than the other actors in the piece. Statues and reliefs were always painted, and when wall painting is employed it is always as a substitute for sculpture. There is no proper perspective, and certain conventionalities of color are employed. The Egyptians are represented with red and yellow complexions, red ochre for the men and yellow for the women. The hair of the king is frequently painted blue, but that of ordinary men black. In representing the various nations with whom Egypt had intercourse, the artists seem to have endeavored to imitate the complexions peculiar to each. Ammen-Ra, the chief divinity of Thebes, is always painted blue, and he is further distinguished by two high feathers which he wears in his cap. The inferior divinities are not uncommonly of the complexions of mortals. The sky or heavens are invariably indicated by a strip of blue coming downward at the lower side of each extremity, and occasionally having upon it a row of five-pointed stars. Water, seas and rivers are represented by zigzag lines of a blue or green color. Mountains have a yellow color, with red spots upon it. Egyptian art was at its highest during the period between the 4th and 6th dynasties, and notwithstanding its defects it was superior to that of Nineveh and Babylon. Gold and enamel jewelry with rich necklaces and pectorals of a very early period have come down to us. Artistic design was skilfully applied by the Egyptians to articles of furniture, ornament and articles of domestic use -- mirrors, spoons, chairs, etc. Wood, ivory and various metals were used. The Phoenicians and Grecks spread these works along the Mediterranean littoral where they cxerted a very great influence on design. (See Art; SCULPTURE). Consult Lepsius, Denkmaler) '(1874); Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art in Ancient Egypt (1883).