Faiyum portraits first realistic painting on Earth
These wonderful portraits by unknown artists painted more than 2 thousand years ago, not for viewers and museums, were in fact, a kind of passport photo for afterlife. Egyptians were afraid very much that the gods in the afterlife would not be able to identify them because of the failure of embalming. Such realistic portraits were to be buried with the dead. Currently, there are about 900 funeral portraits found in the necropolis of Faiyum. Thanks to the dry Egyptian climate, many portraits are very well preserved, and, in most cases, even the paint looks still fresh.
The wonderful collection of 23 Faiyum funerary portraits has been exhibited in the State Museum of Fine Arts named after A.S. Pushkin in Moscow. The portraits were discovered in Egypt in the 70s of the XIX century.
An important feature of Faiyum portraits – the used finest gold leaf. In some portraits, all the background was gilded, in the others, gold covers only wreaths or headbands, as well as jewelry, and sometimes underlined parts of clothing.
The amazingly realistic images of men and women of all ages, who are looking at you from their past… The collections of many museums in the world, including the British Museum, the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum in New York include these funeral portraits.
For basis of Faiyum portraits used wood of different species, for instance, local sycamore, lime, fig, yew, and imported cedar, pine, spruce, cypress, oak.
Stylistically related to the traditions of Greco-Roman art, but designed for the needs of a typical Egyptian, replacing the funerary masks of mummies, Fayum portraits – it is amazingly realistic images of men and women of all ages.
Noteworthy, about 900 mummy portraits are known at present.
Faiyum portraits first realistic painting
source: the images were scanned from magazine “Чудеса и тайны планеты Земля”, translated by Viola.bz