Universitätsbibliothek HeidelbergUniversitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

Newberry, Percy E.
Beni Hasan (Band 3) — London, 1896

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In this third volume on the tombs of Beni
Hasan is commenced the publication in fac-
simile of certain important details from the
scenes and inscriptions, which are shown in
outline only, and on a greatly reduced scale,
in Beni Hasan, I. and II. The wall-pictures
in tombs of the Middle Kingdom are usually
so roughly executed that but little more is to
be learnt from large-scale drawings than from
reductions to one-twentieth, such as form the
bulk of our first publication. But there are
exceptional cases, in which great care and
attention to minute details of depiction were
expended by the artist on a particular portion
of a tomb otherwise roughly executed, or in
which the artistic workmanship over one whole
monument rose far above the level of the art
displayed on those around it. Beni Hasan
affords an example of the first class of ex-
ception in the great south wall of the tomb of
Ameny. On this almost every line is sharply
defined, while in other parts of the tomb ill-
drawn figures carelessly smeared with a few
colours serve indeed a decorative purpose when
seen at a proper height and from a proper
distance, but will not bear close examination.
Again, the whole of the paintings in Tomb 3


(that of Khnemhetep) are neatly drawn with
a considerable amount of detail, and in places
their execution rises almost to the highest
level of Egyptian art.

For our present purpose, however, the south
wall of the tomb of Ameny affords by far the
best material. For the study of detail it is an
almost ideal example, the scale of the designs
being very large, while the workmanship is
minute. It is, morever, in a very fair state of
preservation. The same cannot be said of
Tomb 3, in which the colours and even the
designs are obscured by dirt; the oil applied
to the walls by previous copyists to bring out
the faded colours has remained on the surface
and caused the dust to adhere in a thin
coating, which cannot be cleaned off without
further injury to the paintings.

In studying Egyptian wall-painting the
question immediately arises how far the faith-
fulness and realism of the artists is to be
depended upon. Their bad work was often
very bad ; but their best work also was done
principally with a view to decorative effect,
and thus we see, for example, that the fins of
the fishes are often misplaced, the colours of
a bird may be taken from one species and