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Ian M. E. Shaw

Ancient Egyptian art style that takes its name from Amarna, (Tell) el-, the site of the capital city during the reigns of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) and Smenkhkare (reg c. 1335–c. 1332 bc). Amarna-style painting and sculpture were characterized by a move away from the traditional idealism of Egyptian art towards a greater realism and artistic freedom. This new sense of vigour and naturalism is most apparent in surviving fragments of paintings from the walls and floors of palaces (Cairo, Egyp. Mus., and Oxford, Ashmolean; see Egypt, ancient §X 2.). The statuary and reliefs, mainly from el-Amarna, Thebes and Hermopolis Magna, represent the royal family and their subjects in a style that was initially grotesque and often crude, as the artists struggled to come to terms with the new approach (see Egypt, ancient §IX 3., (viii)). However, they eventually reached a high degree of sophistication and beauty, exemplified by the painted limestone bust of Queen ...

Article

Bek  

R. Krauss

[Bak]

(fl c. 1340 bc). Egyptian sculptor. Bek’s career as Overseer of Works at the Red Mountain and Overseer of Sculptors coincided with the reign of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc). Numerous fragments of statuary excavated at el-Amarna (the site of Akhenaten’s capital city) can be attributed to Bek’s workshop, making him—like his contemporary Thutmose—one of the few ancient Egyptian artists with whom particular pieces can be associated.

A rock relief at Aswan depicts Akhenaten as a living person, if larger than life, together with the sculptor and his father Men (also an Overseer of Sculptors), in the act of adoring a colossal statue of Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc). While Men too adores the statue, Bek greets King Akhenaten. The associated text assigns Bek responsibility for ‘very great monuments’ in the ‘Great Sun Temple’ at el-Amarna. It also describes him as an ‘apprentice whom his majesty himself taught’, a phrase that is often taken to imply the direct, personal involvement of Akhenaten in the formulation of the so-called ...

Article

R. Krauss

(fl c. 1340 bc).

Egyptian sculptor. Thutmose’s official title was ‘overseer of works’ and, like his contemporary Bek, he is one of the very few Egyptian artists with whom specific works of art can be associated. His name and titles occur in a single inscription (on a horse’s blinker), found on the site of an extensive estate, comprising various ateliers and quarters for craftsmen as well as the owner’s house, at Amarna, (Tell) el-, the capital city of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc). Thutmose’s ownership of a blinker implies that he possessed horses and a chariot, items commensurate with a social status considerably higher than usually presumed for Egyptian craftsmen.

In December 1912 the German excavators of el-Amarna, directed by Ludwig Borchardt, unearthed many pieces of royal and private statuary which had apparently been abandoned in a room of the main building of Thutmose’s estate. Among the finds were the now-famous painted limestone bust of Queen ...