Why do Egyptian figures have two left feet?

Ancient Egyptian Art Read more from
Chapter Art of the Ancient World, C. 5000 B.c.e.–400 C.E.

Egyptian figures, especially depictions of pharaohs and other important individuals, tended to be done in profile, but in a twisted perspective. Egyptian artists were concerned with depicting everything they knew to exist, not necessarily what they could see at any given moment. In order to make the image as clear as possible, the artists depicted everything from its most characteristic angle. A human head, for example, is most clearly understood when seen in profile, while one eye is usually depicted frontally, as are both shoulders. Like the head, each foot was depicted in profile, which results in each foot appearing as if it were the left. This lack of naturalism is part of Egyptian artistic convention and relates to the fact that Egyptians created their art from memory rather than natural observation.


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