Techniques of the Egyptian Artist.

Essay by NYC4UNMECollege, UndergraduateB, October 2005

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The forms and techniques of Egyptian art are dictated by the religious and magical purpose for which it was undertaken. The idea of "art for art's sake" was not paramount in the approach of the Egyptian artist. The great pyramids were raised to protect the souls of the Pharaohs from their enemies. Tools used to build the pyramids were simple: wooden mallets, stone, drills, chisels, flint knives, wooden rulers, plumb lines, and ramps. The pyramids were huge complexes that contained not only the sarcophagi of the kings, but the pits for the funerary barge, temples, and many false chambers to confuse would-be thieves. Pharaohs would be buried in the tombs, as well as other members of the royal family. All the belongings the pharaoh might need would be buried with him: food, clothing, tools, furniture and, jewelry.

Ancient Egypt has bequeathed us an enormous testimony to the skill, and genius of its artists, painters, relief-carvers, and sculptures.

It must be stressed that in their working tools, technical procedures, and way of life, the artists of ancient Egypt did not greatly differ from the artisans. Woodcarvers shared the tools and techniques of carpenters, and sculptors in stone drew on the skills of stone masons and stone vessel makers. Works of art did not spring from the hands of single individuals. They were invariably the product of collective effort by a number of men. The contribution of one artist linked up with that of another, a painting or relief being based on another man's drawing while, a sculpture was passed on to the painters to be colored.

The pigments the artist used were usually finely ground natural mineral substances mixed with water and a binding agent such as egg white or gum from acacia. Beeswax was used in the Roman times and...