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Painting remained an accessory to architecture, sculpture and relief, the painter filled in the outlines carved by the cutting tool. But though subordinate, it was ubiquitous; most statues were painted, all surfaces were colored.
It is an art perilously subject to time, and lacking the persistence of statuary and building. Very little remains to us of Old Kingdom painting beyond a remarkable picture of six geese from a tomb at Medium; but from this alone we are justified in believing that already in the early dynasties this art, too, had come near to perfection.
In the Middle Kingdom we find distemper painting of a delightful decorative effect in the tombs of Ameni and Khnumhotep at Beni-Hasan, and such excellent examples of the art as the "Gazelles and the Peasants, and the "Cat Watching the Prey" here again the artist has caught the main point that his creations must move and live.
Under the Empire the tombs became a riot of painting. The Egyptian artist had now developed every color in the rainbow, and was anxious to display his skill. On the walls and ceilings of homes, temples, palaces and graves hetried to portray refreshingly the life of the sunny fields birds in flight through the air, fishes swimming in the sea, beasts of the jungle in their native haunts.
Floors were painted to look like transparent pools, and ceilings sought to rival the jewelry of the sky.
Around these pictures were borders of geometric or floral design, ranging from a quiet simplicity to the most fascinating complexity.
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