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Bowl with applied figures of a crocodile and hippopotami, ca. 3700–3450 B.C., Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
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Egyptian Art

by Jerry Saltz

The style of ancient Egyptian art is transcendently clear, something eight-year-olds can recognize in an instant. Its consistency and codification is one of the most epic visual journeys in all art, one that lasts 30 dynasties spread over 3,000 years. That’s the era -- as long as six Roman empires, or a dozen American ones -- we all know for its pharaohs and pyramids and sphinxes, Tutankhamen and Rameses, and that brief instant in the Eighteenth Dynasty when art comes within a hair’s breadth of a lyrical naturalism we associate with Ingres.


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