Ancient Egyptian Art is one of the most recognized, admired and collected art in the history of the world. From delicate gold jewelry to vivid paintings to massive statues dozens of feet tall, for over 5,000 years Egyptian art has fascinated, delighted and awed generation after generation with its beauty, style and mystery. While genuine ancient pieces of art are rare and extremely valuable, modern Egyptian artists make beautiful art and jewelry that is inspired by some of the greatest recovered works from ancient sites, and which adheres strictly to the styles used by ancient artists. Jewelry in gold and silver with inlaid stones are fashioned after pieces of jewelry recovered from ancient tombs. Papyrus Paintings are painted in vivid color on genuine papyrus, made using the same principles developed thousands of years ago on the banks of the Nile, where the papyrus plant grows to this day. Paintings are executed in the style of frontalism, one of the most striking characteristics of ancient Egyptian Art.
Frontalism is the style in which every known piece of ancient Egyptian art was produced. In paintings, the style of frontalism means that the head of the character is drawn in profile, while the body is drawn from a front view. However, even though the face is in profile, the eye is drawn in full, as it would be seen from the front. The legs always face the same direction as the head, with one foot forward and one back.
Ancient Egyptian figures, especially of gods and pharaohs, are noticeable for their very formal, even rigid stance and posture, but their faces are always serene, regardless of the scene in which they are depicted. There were very strict rules about how a god or pharaoh could be represented, which even included a prohibition against anything being drawn in front of the face or body of the pharaoh, even when the scene depicted clearly required it for any kind of realism. Realism was simply not a goal of ancient Egyptian Art. It is these very formal and stylized rules that have made Egyptian Art one of the most widely recognized forms of art in the world.
Over thousands of years Egyptian artists adhered to this one style, which is quite remarkable, especially as compared to the extreme differences in art expression that have occurred in the modern world in just the past 100 years or so. The only acknowledged variations are in the portrayals of animals and common people as compared to the more formal depictions of pharaohs and gods. As can be seen in many Egyptian paintings, animals and common people or slaves are represented in a more natural manner, though still within very strict and formulaic rules.
This frontalist style is the primary reason why ancient Egyptian art is so easily recognizable, and its appeal has lasted through many centuries to this day.