Why is it that color was used in this relief? Also, how was the color produced in order to stay for so long?
Generally, Egyptian reliefs were all brightly painted. The ancient Egyptians used a lot of mineral pigments in their paint. Reds and yellows could both be derived from ochres. A lot of the color preservation is due to the climate in Egypt. The dry climate has allowed these materials to remain. It's also why wood and other organic material can be preserved so well.
Do these colors have any meaning behind them?
The red color is usually used for men's skin like it is here. It also has associations with the sun god, Re. The yellow in this image depicts gold. Blues and greens were associated with water and marshes which also tied them to life giving and creation.
Was there a text in this piece originally? Is that how you identified Ramses II?
It is very likely that there was text associated with this image. This relief came from a temple and placing the name of a figure, especially the king, next to their representation was a very common practice. In this case, the style of the figure also helped scholars identify Ramses II and the temple in which it originated.
We have an example of a stela depicting Ramses II with all five of his kingly names on view in a nearby gallery!
Why is it that some of the pieces are missing? In the description it says that his arms are raised.
The reliefs can be in fragments for a lot of reasons. Sometimes part of the relief would fall or part of the wall it's on would be repurposed at later times. We can tell in this case that the arms were raised based on the angle and comparing it to other, intact examples.
Would this piece be an example of high relief?
This would be an example of sunk relief, when the artisan would cut into the stone to create the image. The other relief style, raised relief, is done by removing the stone around where you want the figure to be.
Were his arm raised to show his power?
No, in this case. Ramses II was likely giving an offering or worshiping a god, as that's a common gesture seen in reliefs that comes from temples.
Did they use standardized proportions to create the lines in this work?
Usually, yes. Artisans were tasked with showcasing the best elements of people and often trained in workshops. We have evidence of some of these workplaces! Egyptian artists strived to show perfection and completeness. Sometimes, incomplete works still show the gridlines used to stay true to the established proportions.
Is this piece an example of idealization?
Absolutely! Egyptian art, especially showing the king, shows the person as idealized and representing ideas of beauty and power.
Since this is a rock, was it carved out to make it smooth?
Yes, it was smoothed out with a sanding process as part of the carving. The stone would then have been covered with plaster or gesso so the pigment would even better adhere to the surface.
What kind of tools were used to create this?
To make this relief, the artisan would have carved into the stone. They would likely have used a chisel to do that. Polishing and rubbing with gritty materials like sand were key in the production of reliefs, as well.
Who is this?
The relief was identified as the famous Ramses the Great by the style of his face! It's a great example of the bright paint that originally been on all of the finished reliefs.