All Egyptian reliefs were painted. Pigments were mostly mineral, chosen to withstand strong sunlight without fading. Many ancient Egyptian paintings have survived due to Egypt’s extremely dry climate. The paintings were often made with the intent of making a pleasant afterlife for the deceased. The themes included journey through the afterworld or protective deities introducing the deceased to the gods of the underworld (such as Osiris). Egyptian paintings are painted in such a way to show a profile view and a side view of the animal or person. For example, the painting to the right shows the head from a profile view and the body from a frontal view. Their main colors were red, blue, black, gold, and green. The beginnings can be found in tombs of the 3rd dynasty but painting of the highest quality is found as early as the 4th dynasty. The tradition of fine painting was continued in the Middle Kingdom. The best relief work of the period is found at Thebes in the tomb of Mentuhotep II at Dayr al-Bahri and in the little shrine of Sesostris I at Karnak. In the early 18th dynasty the relief tradition was revived at Thebes and can best be observed in the carvings in Hatshepsut’s temple at Dayr al-Bahri. Later royal reliefs of Amenhotep III and of the post-Amarna kings show a stylistic refinement that was carried to its best in the reign of Seti I, at Karnak, at Abydos, and in his tomb at Thebes. The 18th dynasty also saw Egyptian painting reach its highest achievement in the tombs of the nobles at Thebes. Interest in relief subsequently passed to the work in the temples of the 19th and 20th dynasties. The most dramatic subject was war, whether the so-called triumph of Ramses II at Kadesh. The artistic renaissance of the 25th and 26th dynasties is less evident in painting and relief rather than in sculpture.
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