Dear Cleo 18 08 21

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are having a great time at Granny C’s, don’t forget to bring back a few pebbles and to send a postcard. I have been looking at Egyptian art and these are my findings.

It is a curious fact that much of the surviving Egyptian wall art was hidden from view in tombs in much the same way that Palaeolithic art was done in the inaccessible parts of the caves.

Figure 1 Pharaoh with Hieroglyphs

Egyptian art was a highly stylised mixture of profile and frontal views that gave an almost cubist view of the human figure. The design of the wall art followed strict rules that remained fairly constant over five centuries. There is a narrative story telling aspect to Egyptian art that is very representational that includes hieroglyphs to explain the narrative.

Figure 2 Pharaoh without Hieroglyphs

As a ground for their wall paintings the Egyptians painted directly onto the surface of the fine limestone, if the limestone was not so smooth it would be lined with a layer of mud plaster followed by a gesso layer. The paints themselves were similar to the stone age paints and made from ground minerals the paints were applied to the dried prepared ground. Once the painting was completed a layer of varnish or resin was applied to protect the work.

Figure 3 Pharaoh, God and servant with Hieroglyphs

Colour had its own set of rules and traditions that are best explained here (Mark, 2007).

In paintings for portraits of the dead the mineral paints were combined with beeswax to give a paint texture similar to oil paint.

The only darks in Egyptian paintings are the outlines, Egypt is a bright sunny country so the cast and form shadows would be dark. Like far Eastern art, the cast shadows are ignored entirely and the form shadows are just enough to suggest the modelling of the form without destroying the flatness of the picture plane. The Egyptian palette is high key suggesting a joy and lightness in the images that were mostly painted in tombs, as if the journey into the after world was a journey into the light.

I went to the British Museum Twice, once to look at the Egyptian Sculpture on the ground floor and once to look at the mummies and Egyptian painting on the upper floor. When I had done all that, I did this:

Figure 4 Self portrait with Freya the cat and Hieroglyphs

I hope you liked my brief foray into ancient Egyptian art.

My love as always

Mickos xx


Hagen R. M. & R. Egyptian art; 2018; Slovakia, Taschen

Mark J. J. (2007) Color in Ancient Egypt, At:

(Accessed on 14 08 18)