Amarna Art
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The First shaded Painting in History from Ahetaten Palace in the city of Ahetaten

During the Eighteenth Dynasty under the rule of the Pharaoh Akhenaten (r. 1353-1335 B.C.), the Egyptian art style underwent a drastic change from its traditional style. This change in art technique during the fourteenth century was called the Amarna Period.

Under Akhenaten's rule, the worship of most of the Egyptian gods was abandoned and replaced by a monotheistic religion based around the belief in the god Aten. Aten was identified with and represented as a sun disk or light and not in animal or human form, which was how the gods had been represented in pervious dynasties. Besides changing religion from the worship of multiple gods to one god, the pharaoh also changed his name from Amenhotep IV (servant of the head-god Ahmun) to Akhenaten (servant of the sun) and moved his capital city downriver from Thebes to Tell el-Amarna.

Queen Nefertiti Riding her Chariot

During the Amarna Period, art moved towards a more relaxed, realistic portrayal and away from the traditional stylized and rigid formality of the previous dynasties. It focused on showing nature, the pharaoh, and his subjects in natural poses and personalized images of family, daily life, and domestic scenes. Many of the paintings and tomb reliefs of Akhenaten, his wife Nefertiti, and their daughters depict intimate affection and tenderness in their manner.

At this time artists were encouraged to show volume, shape, and fluidity in their works and to reveal physical imperfections of the body. Akhenaten is shown with an effeminate, misshapen body, full-lipped face, heavy-lidded eyes, weak arms, narrow waist, protruding belly, wide hips, and fatty thighs. These traits may have been the result of some illness he had or were the portrayal of a new expressionistic style. Besides these imperfections of body, Akhenaten, his family, and his subjects were also shown with exaggerated and elongated heads and bodies, and the lines that make up these images were curved and graceful suggesting a more carefree and poetic attitude toward art.

Information about color use in artwork at this time is scarce, but it seems that the same meanings and uses placed on color followed similar techniques used before the Amarna Period.

Some art historians, as stated in Gardner's Art Through the Ages, believed that Akhenaten's shift away from the traditional style of art towards a more expressionistic and individual style was due to a “deliberate artistic reaction against the established style, paralleling the suppression of traditional religion” and that "Akhenaten's artists tried to formulate a new androgynous image of the pharaoh as the manifestation of Aten, the sexless sun disk.” This may have been the case or Akhenaten was just trying to make sure that he and the changes he brought to Egypt during his reign were not forgotten.

After Akhenaten's death his heir Tutankhaten (living image of Aten) changed his name to Tutankhamun (living image of Amun) and restored the kingdom back to polytheism. Akhenaten's city of Tell el-Amarna was abandoned, and most of the artwork from this period was destroyed. However, aspects of the art style from Akhenaten's reign such as the sense of tenderness and affection can still be seen in some of Tutankhamun's treasures found in his tomb.

Royal Chief Sculpture Djehutmose










Royal Chief Artist Yuti & his Wife Bek

Taught by his majesty

'An Overseer of the works at the red mountain for the pylon, Chief of the artists teacher of the king himself, an overseer of the sculptors from life at the grand monuments of the king for the temple of the sun's disk in the city of Akhetaten, son of the chief of the artists Men, born of Roy in An'.

The family tree of Bek



Men + Roy ('of Heliopolis in the North'), (under Amenhotep III)


Bek + Taheret (under Akhenaten)

The tombstone of Bek

Inside the niche are two little standing figures of a man and a woman. The inscription reads:-

(on the right side) - 'A royal sacrifice to Horemkhu, the Sun's disk, who enlightens the land; that he may vouchsafe to accept the customary offerings of the dead on the altar of the living sun's disk, in favour of the overseer of the sculptors from life, and of his wife, the lady Ta-her'.

(on the left side) - 'A royal offering to the living sun's disk, which enlightens the world by its benefactions in order that it may vouchsafe a complete good life, united with a reward of honour, joy of heart, and a beautiful old age, in favour of the artist of the king, the sculptor of the lord of the land, the follower of the divine benefactor, Bek'.

'The inhaling of the holy incense, the receiving of the unction in favour of the artist of the king, the overseer of the sculptors, Bek: The inhaling of the fragrance of the incense in favour of the overseer of the works of the lord of the land, Bek:

'That thy soul may appear, that thy body may live, that thy foot may march out to all places, in favour of the artist of the king, and overseer of the sculptors, Bek:

'That he may grant me to drink wine and milk, and that the king may receive the sacrifice of the dead, in favour of the lady Ta-her'.

Inscription on a rock face near Aswan

On the left is Bek offering to Akhenaten, the defaced figure (erased in antiquity), and on the right is Bek's father offering to Amenhotep III

Limestone stela with a seated figure of AkhenatenLimestone fragment with the head of a king

Limestone stela with a seated figure of Akhenaton

Berlin by bata ez.

Berlin by bata ez.

Akhenaten, fragment from Amarna by ggnyc.
Akhenaten by sergiothirteen. amIII6916.jpg by tutincommon.
Hand of Akhenaten making an offering to Aten by ggnyc. Trial piece from Amarna by Lenka P.
fragment of demolished relief depicting Akhenaten by ggnyc. Tutankhamun by meechmunchie.
DSC05232.JPG by tutincommon. 2005_0222_121721AA by Hans Ollermann.
2005_0222_110456AA by Hans Ollermann. 2005_0222_104928AA by Hans Ollermann.
2005_0224_125233AA by Hans Ollermann. 2005_0224_124744AA by Hans Ollermann.
2005_0222_110200AA by Hans Ollermann. 2005_0222_130218AA by Hans Ollermann.
DSC00673.JPG by tutincommon. DSC05237.JPG by tutincommon.
face of an old woman by ggnyc. Old Lady by meechmunchie.
1980,148.jpg by risotto al caviale. Purification of a Royal Woman (Queen Kiya?) by ggnyc.
DSC06906.JPG by tutincommon. DSC05233.JPG by tutincommon.
Perhaps the Favourite, Kiya by meechmunchie. DSC05235.JPG by tutincommon.
DSC04883.JPG by tutincommon. DSC04886.JPG by tutincommon.
DSC04893.JPG by tutincommon. DSC04885.JPG by tutincommon.
DSC04888.JPG by tutincommon. DSC04884.JPG by tutincommon.
More Amarna Party Musicians by meechmunchie. Purification of a Royal Woman (Queen Kiya?) by ggnyc.
More Amarna Party Musicians by meechmunchie. relief depicting an attendant of Akhenaten's royal family by ggnyc.
Two Princesses (Akhenaten's daughters) by ggnyc. Workers of Amarna by meechmunchie.
Fan bearers by meechmunchie. Slightly Rougher Fanbearers by meechmunchie.
Trial Piece of A Royal Lady by meechmunchie. DSC05231.JPG by tutincommon.
DSC05234.JPG by tutincommon. wailers.JPG by tutincommon.
DSC05236.JPG by tutincommon. DSC00672.JPG by tutincommon.
DSC06908.JPG by tutincommon. Ramose 2599 by kairoinfo4u.
2007_0724_164139AA by Hans Ollermann. 2007_0724_164133AA by Hans Ollermann.
2007_0724_164121AA by Hans Ollermann. 2007_0724_164044AA by Hans Ollermann.
2007_0724_164259AA by Hans Ollermann. 2007_0724_164246AA by Hans Ollermann.

2007_0724_164314AA by Hans Ollermann.

2007_0724_164242AA by Hans Ollermann.
2007_0724_164324AA by Hans Ollermann.

2007_0724_164106AA by Hans Ollermann. 2007_0724_164059AA by Hans Ollermann.
2007_0724_164154AA by Hans Ollermann. 2007_0724_164150AA by Hans Ollermann.
Ramose 2597 by kairoinfo4u. Ramose 2589 by kairoinfo4u.
Ramose 2600 by kairoinfo4u. Ramose 2605 by kairoinfo4u.
Ramose 2606 by kairoinfo4u. Ramose 2607 by kairoinfo4u.
Ramose 2608 by kairoinfo4u. Ramose 2609 by kairoinfo4u.
Ramose 2608 by kairoinfo4u. Ramose 205 by kairoinfo4u.
Ramose 206 by kairoinfo4u. Ramose 212 by kairoinfo4u.
Ramose 2603 by kairoinfo4u. Ramose 205 by kairoinfo4u.

 Fragment from Amarna by Lenka P.

Jar with a Princess by meechmunchie.
Teje by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar). Portrait Studies by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar).
The Royal Couple: Akhenaten & Nefertiti by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar).  

2007_0724_164401AA by Hans Ollermann.

2007_0724_164344AA by Hans Ollermann.
2007_0724_165201AA by Hans Ollermann.  
2007_0724_165211AA by Hans Ollermann. 2007_0724_165236AA by Hans Ollermann.
2007_0724_165227AA by Hans Ollermann. 2007_0724_165247AA by Hans Ollermann.















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Last modified: 11/17/10