Saturday, November 19, 2016

ART--NEW KINGDOM (1550–1070 B.C.E .)

Lady in Waiting: detail of a limestone relief representing a festive gathering, in the tomb of the vizier Ramose at Thebes, New Kingdom, XVIIIth Dynasty, approx. 1400-1362 B.C.E.

Dancers and Flutists, with an Egyptian hieroglyphic story, 1420-1375 B.C.E.

“The Ancient Egyptian noble, Ramose was Governor of Thebes and Vizier under both Amenhotep III and Akhenaton. He was one of the earliest public figures to convert to Atenism.

His tomb is located in the Sheikh Abd el-Qurna – part of the Theban Necropolis, on the west bank of the Nile, opposite to Luxor, and is notable for the high quality decorations in both the traditional and Amarna styles.”

The New Kingdom is recognized as a period of great artistic horizon, with art and architecture evolving in three separate and quite distinct eras; the Tuthmossid Period, from the start of the New Kingdom (1550 B.C.E.) to the end of the reign of AMENHOTEP III (1353 B.C.E.), the ’ AMARNA Period (1353–1335 B.C.E.), and the Ramessid Period (1307–1070 B.C.E.).

With the expulsion of the Hyksos and the reunification of Upper and Lower Egypt, the pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty, called the Tuthmossids, began elaborate rebuild- ing programs in order to reflect the spirit of the new age. Sculpture in the round and painting bore traces of Middle Kingdom standards while exhibiting innovations such as polychromatics and the application of a simplified cubic form. Osiride figures, depictions of OSIRIS or of royal personages assuming the deity’s divine attire of this time, were discovered at DEIR EL - BAHRI in THEBES and are of painted limestone, with blue eyebrows and beards and red or yellow skin tones. Such color was even used on black granite statues in some instances. Cubic forms popular in the era are evidenced by the statues of the chief steward SENENMUT and Princess NEFERU - RÉ , his charge, encased in granite cubes. These stark forms are nonetheless touching portraits, enhanced by hieroglyphs that interpret their rank, relationship, and affection for one another. Other statues, such as one fashioned in granite as a portrait of TUTHMOSIS III (r. 1479–1425 B.C.E.) demonstrated both the cubist and polychromatic styles.

Sculpture was one aspect of New Kingdom art where innovations were forged freely. In painting, artists adhered to the canon set in earlier eras but incorporated changes in their work. Egypt’s military successes, which resulted in an empire and made vassals of many Mediterranean nations, were commemorated in pictorial narratives of battles or in processions of tribute-bearers from other lands. A grace and quiet elegance permeated the works, a sureness born out of prosperity and success. The surviving tomb paintings of the era display banquets and other trappings of power, while the figures are softer, almost lyrical. The reign of AMENHOTEP III (r. 1391–1353 B.C.E.) brought this new style of art to its greatest heights. ’

The city of Akhetaten at ’ AMARNA was erected by AKHENATEN (r. 1353–1335 B.C.E.) in honor of the god ATEN , and it became the source of an artistic revolution that upset many of the old conventions. The rigid grandeur of the earlier periods was abandoned in favor of a more naturalistic style. Royal personages were no longer made to appear remote or godlike. In many scenes, in fact, Akhenaten and his queen, NEFERTITI , are depicted as a loving couple surrounded by their offspring. Physical deformities are frankly portrayed, or possibly imposed upon the figures, and the royal household is painted with protruding bellies, enlarged heads, and peculiar limbs.

The famed painted bust of Nefertiti, however, demonstrates a mastery that was also reflected in the magnificent pastoral scenes adorning the palace. Only fragments remain, but they provide a wondrous range of animals, plants, and water scenes that stand unrivaled for anatomical sureness, color, and vitality. The palaces and temples of ’Amarna were destroyed in later reigns, by pharaohs such as HOREMHAB (r. 1319–1307 B.C.E.), who razed the site in order to use the materials for personal projects of reign.

RAMESSID PERIOD (1307–1070 B.C.E.)
From the reign of RAMESSES I (1307–1306 B.C.E.) until the end of the New Kingdom, art once again followed the established canon, but the influences from the Tuthmossid and ’Amarna periods were evident. The terminal years of the Twentieth Dynasty brought about a degeneration in artistic achievement, but until that time the Ramessid accomplishments were masterful. RAMESSES II (r. 1290–1224 B.C.E.) embarked upon a building program unrivaled by any previous Egyptian ruler.

Ramesses II and his military units were involved in martial exploits, and the campaign narratives (popu- lar in the reign of Tuthmosis III; r. 1479–1425 B.C.E.) became the dominant subject of temple reliefs once again. Dramatic battle scenes were carved into the temple walls and depicted in the paintings in the royal tombs. Queen NEFERTARI , the consort of Ramesses II, was buried in a tomb that offers stunning glimpses of life on the Nile. The campaign scenes of RAMESSES III (r. 1194–1163 B . C . E .) at MEDINET HABU are of equal merit and are significant because they rank among the major artistic achievements of the Ramessid period.



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