Painting and Low-Relief Sculpture
Ancient Egyptian art followed a very specific canon for centuries,
with very few changes. One of the main reasons for this is the fact
that bodies were drawn to a specific and unchanging scale on an 18-square
grid. Other important factors were as follows.
Clearly, realism is not the main goal of these paintings. The people are distinguished by captions, placement, size and what they are doing, not by facial features or different body-types as is more common in most other cultures, especially today.
During the reign of Akhenaton, artistic style changed radically for a short period of time. This time, known as the Amarna period, was not particularly influential to later Egyptian art but it did leave a mark. As well as overhauling the religion to be monotheistic, Akhenaton was responsible for a shocking change in art.
Though still symbolic, scaled and accompanied by text, there are many differences between this carving and earlier works. The lines are much more fluid, with body lines being more realistic and folds in skin being visible. The poses are also more realistic (though still not truly possible). Pharaoh is also seen kissing his child, showing affection. This is something that was previously reserved for women.
Though art went back to a very slightly more fluid version of the original art following Akhenaton's death, another change would still sweep Egypt. Greek and Roman influence permeated Egypt. Paintings now depicted Roman gods and very Greek-looking, realistic mummy portraits began to crop up.