Egyptian Art

TIME PERIOD: 3000-30 B.C.E.

The most relevant artistic periods in Egyptian art are the following:

Old Kingdom 2575-2134 B.C.E.

New Kingdom 1550-1070 B.C.E.

ESSENTIAL UNDERSTANDING - Egyptian art was created around ideas concerning eternity, the afterlife, and rebirth.

  • Funerary objects dominate, including large-scale sculptures, stone architecture, and tomb artifacts--all in the service of the god-like pharaoh.
  • Strict Egyptian stylistic formulas are applied to the gods and pharaohs; they clearly show others to be subordinate and lacing in idealization.


Egyptian civilization covers a huge expanse of time that is marked by the building of monumental funerary monuments and expansive temple complexes. The earliest remains of Egyptian civilization show an interest in elaborate funerary practices, which resulted in the building of the great stone pyramids.

Egyptian figural style remained constant throughout much of its history, with its emphasis on broad frontal shoulders and profiled heads, torso, and legs. In the Old Kingdom the figures appear static and imperturbable. In the Amarna period the figures lose their motionless stances and have body types that are softer and increasingly androgynous.

The contents of the tomb of the short-lived King Tutankhamun give the modern world a glimpse into the spectacular richness of Egyptian tombs. One wonders how much more lavish the tomb of Ramses II must have been.