Ancient Egyptian art is the painting, sculpture, architecture and other arts produced by the civilization of Ancient Egypt (Ancient Egyptian Artists). Considered to be one of the foremost forms of arts in the ancient world, Ancient Egyptian art reached a high level in painting and sculpture and was both highly stylized and symbolic. Since much of the surviving art comes from tombs and monuments and it is understood that, in Egyptian Art, there is an emphasis on life after death and the preservation of knowledge of the past.
Throughout the human history, never was a clear distinction made between arts and crafts nor were Ancient Egyptian Artists considered a breed apart, but Egyptian artisans were certainly aware of their capabilities and their own worth and proud of it.
Ancient Egyptian Artists in Crafts
Crafts were generally learned from one’s parents, from neighbors or close relatives. During Greco-Roman times there were tradesmen who acted as masters of apprentices, the teaching them the nuances of the trade and even guaranteeing its outcome. Once the trade had been learned one had to start exercising it in order to earn one’s living.
The craftsmen and artisans guilds, like most other Egyptians Workers’ Guilds, were organized in hierarchies at the top of which stood royal supervisors like Parennefer, who served under Akhenaten. Imhotep – the almost mythical architect of Zoser’s reign, Ineni – who designed great buildings like Der-el-Bahri for Thutmose I, Puymre and Hapuseneb and Senmut – who carried on the architectural enterprises of Queen Hatshepsut, and Bek, the proud sculptor who tells us, in Gautier’s strain, that he has saved Ikhnaton from oblivion were a few of the famous and respected artisans of ancient Egypt.
To produce their artifacts, artisans had to fashion tools which became sophisticated with time. Every trade had its own set of implements: Carpenters, sculptors, stonemasons and builders, gold- and silversmiths, other metal workers such as iron smiths and foundry workers, weavers, spinners and dressmakers, potters, glass-blowers, surgeons, and scribes.
However, much of what the artisans of ancient Egypt had to offer was out of reach for the vast majority of the population. So, for the most part, the Ancient Egyptian Artists worked in obscurity and poverty. The few lucky minority whose clientele usually include the royal household, the nobility, and the ever growing bourgeoisie, who could afford their services and products to varying degrees. But they were ranked no higher than other artisans or handicraftsmen by patrons who engaged them.
Tribute to an Egyptian Artists
Their employees, rather than paying tribute to the Ancient Egyptian Artistsand glorifying their creations, extolled their own generosity, how they fed, clothed and housed their workers. A stela (stone tablet), found at Manshiret es-Sadr, has Ramses II acknowledge the abilities and enthusiasm of the artisans who had created a big statue from a quartzite monolith, but it also describes how he had catered for the needs of his workers to keep them happy.