Changes in Egyptian Art
Ancient Egypt was characterized by immense works of art which were used to illustrate the culture and interests of the people living in different periods. Art was used to express feelings in different periods and emphasize on their characteristics. It is worth noting that the artistic designs embraced by ancient Egypt varied across periods, such as the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom. In this essay, the statutes of Kings across these three significant periods are utilized to indicate changes in Egyptian art. The statutes include that of Sahure and a god during the Old Kingdom, Amenemhat III during the Middle Kingdom and Ramesses II during the New Kingdom. These statutes are drawn from the Metropolitan Museum, hence indicating their significance in the preservation of ancient art (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
This essay discloses the changes in Egyptian art, utilizing statues of different kings such as Sahure, Amenemhat III, and Ramesses II who existed in the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom, respectively.
The three statues are similar in the sense that they all portray three pharaohs in the ancient Egypt wearing crowns. It is significant to note that the pharaohs were at a rank of kings in Egypt and were distinct from other people. The images of Sahure, Amenemhat III, and Ramesses II emphasize the royal nature of these individuals through the crowns worn by all these leaders. The crowns worn by all these leaders in the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom are similar in the sense that they all extend up to the shoulders. Crowns reiterate the significance of the pharaohs across all the periods of ancient Egypt (Honour and Fleming, 2005, p. 102). Additionally, the crowns are an indication of the godly nature of the pharaohs across all the periods, hence indicating the respect they deserve from their people. Crowns were meant to distinguish pharaohs from common citizens, hence emphasizing their position and authority in society. It is also worth noting that the crowns worn by Egyptian pharaohs were meant to symbolize the respect from other people and illustrate their wisdom in leading their nations. The works of ancient Egyptian art emphasize the significance of the crowns across all periods to indicate the significant position of the pharaohs.
All of the three works of art are similar in the sense that they show the beard worn by all the pharaohs across these three periods. Notably, all the pharaohs in ancient Egypt wore false beards tied to their chins with cords. It is noted that all Egyptian pharaohs, including Sahure, Amenemhat III, and Ramesses II wore the beard to show their high position and power in the society. The beard worn by these kings was a distinction of their significance and the power to rule over society. The works of art across the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom emphasize this aspect to bring out the true nature of Egyptian pharaohs and their relevance in society (Robins, 1994, p. 37). It should also be noted that the fake beards worn by Egyptian kings across all the three periods were an indication of their godly nature and their relevance in offering guidance to the people of Egypt. Therefore, Egyptian art across the three periods captured and emphasized the aspect o the fake beard worn by Egyptian leaders indicating their high position and leadership.
However, the three images differ in terms of color. The statue of Sahure is dark brown; the one of Amenemhat III is dark, while that of Ramesses II is light brown in color. The difference in color is indicative of the transition in the coloring of images by different artists across the three periods. The dark color adopted for Sahure indicates the ancient period, while the colors adopted in the statues of Amenemhat III and Ramesses II, are indicative of the changing taste in color over different periods. Notably, artists in the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom were associated with different colors and this can be seen from the appearance of the statues. The transition in the coloring of images, made across different periods in Egypt, indicates the changes in tastes among artists and the perception of what was more beautiful throughout different times of history (Robins and Fowler, 1994, p. 55). Therefore, the statues of the three kings appear in different colors, hence reiterating the changes in tastes and preferences among early Egyptian artists.
More so, the three statues differ in their overall appearance. The statue of Sahure is presented in a sitting position on a lower ground with a Nome God on the side, while the statue of Amenemhat III only portrays the head of the king. On the other hand, the statue of Ramesses II is presented in a sitting position as well, but on a raised throne. It is significant to note that different artists across the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom adopted different methods in presenting their kings. Sahure is presented sitting with a Nome God on the side to emphasize his position as a king and the readiness to lead Egypt. In this position, he appears ready to stand for the people of Egypt and protect them adequately. This is vital because it indicates the authority bestowed on the pharaoh and the position the pharaoh held in the society. Notably, the statue of Amenemhat III shows only the head of the pharaoh with the crown. It does not capture the full image but still reiterates the leadership nature of the pharaoh, having the crown and the beard. This presentation is indicative of the changing artistic presentation of images over these two periods. The statue of Ramesses II also differs from the other two. Ramesses II is presented in a sitting position on a raised throne. The raised throne indicates the manner in which the pharaoh was perceived and the way he was valued by the people of Egypt during the period of New Kingdom. The throne is also indicative of the leadership nature of the pharaoh and the position held by the pharaoh in the society.
The three statues also differ in the materials they were made from. The statue of Sahure is made from gneiss, the one for Amenemhat III is made from black granit, and the one of Ramesses II is made from limestone. It is worth noting that different materials were common during the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom. Most artists during the Old Kingdom were associated with making images out of gneiss and this can be observed from the image of Sahure. The carvings bring out Sahure as a strong individual in a sitting position, hence indicating the powers that thhe pharaoh had during that period. The pharaoh was significant and was always perceived as a person who would change the entire appearance of the society. The statue of Amenemhat III is made from stone (black granit). In the Middle Kingdom, most artists were associated with wood and it was significant in making different images, including the one for the pharaoh. Lastly, the image of Ramesses II is made from limestone, as artists gradually transitioned to the use of this material in making different images during the New Kingdom (Simpson and Gallery, 1977, p. 44). Therefore, it can be observed that artists embraced the existing materials during the different periods, hence reiterating the significance of the materials in those periods.
The key reason for the change of art in ancient Egypt was the continuous change in tastes and the availability of materials. Artists existing in the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom exhibited different interests and tastes, hence necessitating changes across the three periods. Notably, artists had different interests during the three periods and wanted to emphasize different aspects that would make their art more attractive with different meanings. For instance, artists believed they would present images better than the artists in the past period, hence leading to the continuous changes in tastes among different individuals. Again, there was the change in the availability of different materials. Artists utilized materials that existed in different periods, hence emphasizing the change. Different periods were characterized with the use of stone, wood, and metal in the making of different art pieces. Artists were inspired to change with the aim of working in line with the existing and recognized trends. Changes in Egyptian art across the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom were embraced, as most artists wanted to appear current and remain relevant in these periods. Thus, most changes in the nature of Egyptian art occurred because of the continuous changes in tastes and the availability of materials among artists. The need to take Egyptian art to another level also necessitated continuous changes in Egyptian art across the different periods, hence leading to significant changes in the overall field of art.
In conclusion, Egyptian art is one of the most significant art types across the globe. Ancient Egypt experienced three key periods, including the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom. This essay focused on comparing and contrasting the statues of Sahure, Anemenhat III, and Ramesses II who existed during the above mentioned time periods. The statues of the three Egyptian pharaohs are located in the Metropolitan Museum which is significant in preserving ancient art of Egypt. One of the key similarities among the three images is that they present all the pharaohs wearing crowns to emphasize their position and significance in society. The three images are also similar in the sense that they indicate the fake beard worn by all the pharaohs in Egypt across the three time periods. These images differ in their color, materials used to make them, and the manner in which they present pharaohs across the three periods. Changes in Egyptian art could have taken place because of the continuous changes in the tastes and materials available to artists.