Period style refers to shared visual characteristics that are unique to a period of time. Period style can be a way to categorize works of art by similar characteristics or common preferences. It can also categorize works by instructors or the importance of the subject matter to a larger collection of people. Period style is heavily influenced by the geographical location where the artists live.
Even though there are strong stylistic elements that persist throughout the ancient Egyptian time frame, there were major historical events that had a profound impact on the visual style. However, it is not uncommon for people outside of art history to lump the art of ancient Egypt together.
Shown below, the Statue of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who reigned around the 14th century BC, embodies the traditional elements we have come to associate with a lot of ancient Egyptian art, such as:
- Generic-looking face
- Almond-shaped eyes
- Ornamental beard
- Rigid posing
Notice how the overall style changes dramatically in this next example. This change in style began when Ahmenhotep’s son, Akhenaten, assumed the throne after Ahmenhotep’s death. Pay attention to the headdress, the ornamental beard, and the rigid pose. These remain the same for the most part. However, the face has now gained a rather distinct appearance and is widely believed to closely represent the actual appearance of Akhenaten.
These are all elements that were applied to members of the royal family, as well, including the pharoah’s wife and children.
- Elongated face and head
- Pear-shaped body
- Large belly
Finally, below you will see an image of the pharaoh Ramses II, who was characterized in the Bible as an antagonist to Moses. He reigned roughly 60 years after Akhenaten. You can see that, by this point, the features we saw in the original sculpture of Ahmenhotep III have returned. The erasure of the stylistic elements brought about by Akhenaten was another way of extinguishing his legacy.
Regional style includes the stylistic characteristics and subject matter associated with a particular region. This was an idea first proposed by art history critic Johann Winckelmann. Artworks created during a particular period can differ significantly in subject matter and physical characteristics. Regional style began to refer to a more specialized way of identifying works of art that had common themes, common subject matter, or a common style.
Here are genre paintings of northern Europe:
You can see the emphasis on material textures by northern Renaissance painters here:
Or, the iconographic subject matter favored by other northern European artists:
Individual style refers to characteristics that are unique to a specific artist. It is the most specific categorization, where the artist’s own interpretations of contemporary and regional subject matter really come through.
First is a piece by Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel, depicting the Fall of the Rebel Angels. This is an example of a thematic preference.
Let’s compare it with this painting, below, Hell, by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. Bosch’s work includes a number of fantasy elements that were unusual for the time. This is something really distinctive about his style.
Notice above where the highlights include the large ears in the upper left quadrant of the picture, the figures that appear to be a hodgepodge of different body parts, and the pig dressed as a nun in the lower right-hand corner.
In contrast, take a look at the next image, a 20th century abstract painting by Mark Rothko. It is a more modern example of how an artist can still provide an original spin on a particular style and, at the same time, differentiate him-or herself from other artists while still remaining faithful to that style. Rothko was known for his large paintings, which featured bands of contrasting colors.
Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR IAN MCCONNELL.