Amarna Art Period

Time Period: New Kingdom (1500-1300 B.C.)

During the reign of Akhnaten and Nefertiti, Egyptian art underwent a dramatic change. Instead of following the traditional, strict style, Akhnaten took a more naturalistic and expressionistic approach. He portrayed himself in sculptures and paintings with a sense of honesty and how a person really looked. This effect at times turned out to be more exaggerated. In addition to changing art, Akhnaten also altered the Egyptian belief system. He focused less on Osiris and the traditional polytheistic system and more on Aten, the Sun God. It is interesting that whereas most gods and deities were animal-oriented, Akhnaten chose to focus on the sun, a heavenly body. He also moved the capital to Tell el-Amarna, a city strictly devoted to the Sun God.


Akhaten IV (c. 1360 B.C.) 

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Constructed from limestone, this relief displayed the characteristics of Amarna period portraiture. It is approximately 14 cm 5.5 inches. It depicts the pharaoh with distorted features including full lips, elongated chin, protruding lower chin and thin, stretched ears. It appears to have a three-dimensional appearance because it is a sunken relief, creating more shadow, resulting in the realistic approach they aimed for. 

Akhnaten sculpture (1364 B.C.) 

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This statue was created to place in a temple devoted to the Sun God. Opposed to the Egyptian style of sculpture, this statue depicts the pharaoh in a more relaxed state., as opposed to a stiff, rigid appearance. 

Akhnaten, Nefertiti and their children (c.1345 B.C.)

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Depicting a familial scene, this relief is unique in that it portrays intimate and affectionate family scene. Akhnaten is seated across from his wife, showering their three children with kisses. They are basked in the sunlight, symbolizing that their devotion to the Sun God. The figures are drawn in proportion, unlike the traditional style with a side profile of the face, full-front torso, side view of legs and two left feet. Their toes are all drawn in perspective, and there is depth to the image.