Painting is one of
the oldest and most important arts. Since prehistoric times, artist
s have arranged paints on surfaces in way that ex
press their idea about people and the world. The
paintings that artists create have great value for humanity. They provide
people with both enjoyment and informatio
painting for many reasons. They may think a
n beautiful. People may like the colors
that the painter used or the way the artist arrange
the paint on the surface. Some paintings interest people because of the way the
artist expresses some human emotion, such as fear, grief, happiness, or love.
Other paintings are enjoyable because they skillfully portray nature. Even
paintings of such everyday scenes as people at work and play and of such common
objects as food and f
lowers can be a source of
teach. Some reveal what the artist felt about important subject
, including death,
and social justice. O
ther paintings tell about the history of the period
during which they were created. They provide information about the custom,
goals, and interests of the people of past societies. Painting also tell about
such things as the building, clothing, and tools of the past. Much of our
knowledge about pre
historic and ancient times comes
from painting and other arts, because many early societies left few or no
written records. It would be hard to find a subject that no one has ever tried
to paint. Artists paint the things they see around them-people,
animals, nature, and nonliving objects. They also paint dreamlike scenes that
exist only in the imagination. An artist can reach back into the past and paint
a historical event, a religious story, or a myth. Some artists paint pictures
that show no clear subject matter at all. Instead, they arrange the paint in
some abstract way that expresses feeling or ideas that are important to them.
times, many artists have painted the subjects that were most important to the
ir societies. For example, religion was particularly
important in Europe during the Middle Ages, and most of the paintings created
then were religious. A prehistoric artist painted, the animal on a cave wall in
France, about 15000 B.
The artist lived at a time when animals served as the main source of food and
clothing for human beings. The American artist Robert Bechtle
painted the picture of a man and his automobile, called 60 F-Bird.
The automobile is the most important means of transp
American life. People have always been a favorite subject of painters. Artists
have shown people intheir paintings in many different ways. All great
paintings, regardless of subject matters, share a common feature. They do more
than just reproduce with paint something that exists, existed, or can be
imagined. They also expresses the painter's special view about a subject. Many
artists turn to nature for their subject matter. They paint scenes called
landscapes and seascapes that they try to capture the many moods of nature.
Still-life are picture of objects. Still-life painters usually make no attempt
to tell a story or express an idea. Instead, they are interested in the object
themselves — their color, shape, surface, and the space within or around them.
Artists often find their subject matter in the past. They paint pictures that
record real events or myths of long ago. Many such paintings are instead to
recall past deeds of glory or to teach a lesson. Many artists have used
paintings to express political and social beliefs and to protest such things as
war and poverty. Movements of social expression have appeared in painting
The way that
painters arrange colors, forms, or lines is called composition. Some painters
use no recognizable subject matter. Instead, they stress composition for its
own sake. Piet Mondrian's "Lozenge Composition in a Square" is an
Composition is also
important in paintings that have recognizable subject matter. Fintoiettos
"Saint Mark Rescuing a Slave" is as important for its composition as
for the story it tells. Fintoretto place each figure perfectly to direct
attention toward the floating figure of Saint Mark pointing to the slave on the
ground. Viewers can enjoy the skillful composition even if they do not
understand the story.
Many paintings have
been created to decorate rooms or buildings. The subject matter of most of
these paintings is less important than the painting's place within the total
scheme of decoration. For example, the Kaiseraal, a room in a place in
Wiirzbourg, Germany, has a number of outstanding paintings by Giovanni
Battista Piepolo. But these paintings are no
more important than the
windows, columns, or
imitation draperies in the room. Many artists and craftworkers created these
objects, and each object became a part of the room's overall decoration.
Paintings consist of many artistic elements. The most important elements
include (1) color, (2) line, (3) mass, (4) space, and (5) texture. These
artistic elements are as important to a painter as words are to an author. By
stressing certain elements, a painter can make a picture easier to understand
or bring out some particular mood or theme. For example , an artist can combine
to produce an intensely emotional feeling. The same artistic elements can also
be combined in a different way in order to produce a feeling of peace and
relaxation.Color can help an artist tell a story, express an emotion, or- as in
Picasso's “Mandolin and Guitar” —created a composition, Picasso did not color
all his forms as they would appear in real life. Instead, he used strong
primary colors — such as blue, red, and yellow — in the parts of balanced these
colors with delicate black, brown, gray, tan, and white colors. The result is
pleasing composition created largely by the painter's skillful arrangement of
Line is the chief
means by which most artists build up the forms in their pictures. By combining
lines of different lengths and different directions, an artist makes the
drawing a painting. In " Two Acrobats With Dog", Picasso used lines
to show the edges of his figures. Some lines are thick and some are thin. The
artist emphasized line to make the viewer aware of the roundness of the forms
and the and the delicacy of the slender figures of the young boys and the
figure of the dog.
Mass allows an
artist to express the feeling of weight in a painting. Picasso created
"Mother and Child"' largely in terms of mass. The bulky, solid
appearance of figures in the painting impresses the viewer. The artist made the
figure look as if they are made of stone or some other heavy materials. By
stressing mass, Picasso made the figures seem like monuments that will last a
Space. By arranging
lines, colors, and light and dark areas in certain ways, painters can create an
appearance of great space-even though they really paint on a small, flat
surface. An artist can make an object look flat or solid, and either close or
far away. In some paintings, space plays just as important a part as the solid
forms. Picasso's “Seated Bather” shows a skillful use of space. The openings
between the bonelike forms are just as expensive and interesting as the solid
forms in the painting.
Texture refers to
the appearance of the painting's surface. The paint of a picture maybe thick
and rough or thin and smooth. In “Woman Weeping”, Picasso created a rough
texture by using thick strokes of paint. This texture adds to the painful
emotional feeling of the painting.
If to speak about
techniques, we should start with fresco painting. Fresco painting is a
technique in which the artists paints on a plastered wall while the plaster is
still damp. Fresco artists decorate both inside and outside walls. Their works
contribute greatly to the beauty of buildings and homes. Fresco painting is
especially well suited to decorating large walls in churches, government
buildings, and palaces. A fresco, unlike many other painting techniques, has no
glossy shining. A shine would make a fresco difficult to see from certain
angels. Fresco painting reached its greatest popularity from the 1200"s
through the 1500's. Italy was the center of fresco painting during that period.
painters included Giotto , Andrea Mantegna, Masaccio, and Michelangelo. During
the 1900's, Mexican artists revised fresco painting. They included Jose
Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera . Mexican artists decorated many public
buildings with large frescoes that show scenes from Mexican history.
painting can be done in two major techniques, (1) transparent water color and
(2) gouache. Transparent water color are paints made of pigments combined with
a gum-Arabic binder. An artist using this technique lightens the color by
adding water to them. In most other techniques, the artist adds white paint to
lighten colors. The viewer can see the support through a layer of transparent water
color. Gouache paint is also made with a gum arable binder. But during the
manufacturing process, a little white pigment or chalk is added to make the
paint opaque. Opaque means that the viewer cannot see through a layer of the
color. An artist using the gouache technique makes the color lighter by adding
white paint to them. Must styles of modern transparent and gouache water color
painting grew out of techniques developed in England, France, and the
Netherlands during the 1700's and 1800's. But water color paints had been used
to decorate walls and ornamental objects in ancient Egypt and Asia, and in
Europe during the Middle Ages.
involves the use of melted wax as the binder. Pure beeswax is the best kind of
wax for this purpose. Encaustic painting was widely used in Greece as early as
the 400's B. C. But by about A. D. 800, the technique had been abandoned.
During the 1800's, artists attempted to use wax paints for outdoor murals. Some
painters of the 1900's have used the technique for easel picture.
Pastels are colored
chalk sticks. They are made of pigment and a small amount of weak adhesive.
Many artists who draw especially well like to work in pastel because they can
use the stick like a pencil while producing brilliant effects of color.
Two French artists
of the 1700's Jean Chardin and Maurice Quentin de La Tour, made excellent
pastel portraits. Outstanding French artists of the 1800's, including Edouard
Manet, Jean Francais Millet, and Pierre
Renoir, often worked in pastel. They captured
the visual effects of light and atmosphere in pure pastel colors. Edgar Degas,
another French artist of bather,
people working .
Degas's well drawn, brilliantly
colored works proved that pastel could be a major painting technique.
Tempera is a
technique in which egg yolk is used as the binder. Most egg tempera paintings
are done on wood.
A painter usually
applies tempera in fine crisp strokes with a painted brush. The paint dries
almost immediately into a thin, water-resistant coasting. Tempera dries
quickly, and so the brushstrokes do not blend easily. Normally, the artist
develops the tones of the picture through a series of thin strokes laid over
each other. In a tempera painting, most shapes are sharp and clear. Tones are
bright, and details are exact and strong.
An artist should
not applies tempera paint too thickly because the paint cracks when applied in
heavy layers. Tempera paintings require protection against dirt and scratching,
and so he artist usually applies a coat of vanish to the finished picture.
technique achieved its greatest popularity between 1200 and 1500 in Europe.
Beautiful tempera pictures were painted during the 1200's and 1300's in Siena,
Italy, by Duccio di Buoninsegna and Simone Martini. Several modern American
artists have used tempera skillfully. They include Ben Shahn, Mark Tobey, and
Oil paint is made
by mixing powdered pigments with a binder of vegetable oil. Linseed oil is the
most common binder. Certain feature of oil paint make it popular with artists
who want to show the natural appearance of the world around them. Oil
paint-even when applied thickly - does not crack so easily as does water paint
or egg tempera. As a result, the painter can apply oil paint in varying
thicknesses to produce a wide range of textures. Each artist develops his or
her own method of working with oil paint.
Oil painting first
became popular in Europe during the 1500's. By the 1700's it had become the
most common painting technique. It remains the technique preferred by many
No one knows when
people first painted pictures. Scholars date the oldest known paintings at
about 20,000 B. C. The high quality of these works suggests that people began
to paint pictures much earlier.
The ancient Egyptians began painting about 5.000 years ago. They developed one
of the first definite traditions in the history of the art. Egyptian artists
painted on the walls of temples and palaces, but much of their finest work
appears in tombs. Like other early peoples, the Egyptians believed that art was
a magical way of transporting things of this world into a world people entered
after death. Egyptian artists decorated tombs with frescoes showing persons and
objects related to the life of the dead. Egyptian artists painted according to
strict rules that hardly changed for thousands of years. The figures they drew
look stiff. The heads of people in the painting always face sideways. The
shoulders and body face to the front, and the feet paint to the side. Important
persons are larger than the other people.
tombs only for the benefit of the gods and the souls of the dead. The tombs
were scaled and beautifully colored frescoes were intended never again to be
About 3000 B. C. - while Egyptian civilization was flourishing - another great
civilization was developing on the island of Crete. The Cretans, a seafaring
people, often came into contact with the Egyptians. The Cretans adopted some
elements of Egyptians art, including the Egyptian way of drawing human figure.
But the Cretan style
ffness of th
e Egyptian st
yle Cretan paintings are lively, and the figures in
them seem to float and dance. More important. Cretan pai
unlike the Egyptians, were interested in life in
this world. They used paintings to decorate buildings instead of concealing the
paintings in tombs. Thus, Cretan art became a bridge between Egyptian art,
which emphasized death, and ancient Greek and Roman art, which dealt with life.
k painting. The ancient Greeks made greater
achievements in architecture and sculpture than in painting. Nearly all
surviving Greek paintings appear on pottery. The Greeks made beautifully shaped
pottery and painted it with scenes from everyday life and from stories about
their gods and heroes.
Greek artists of
the late 600's and the 500's B. C. Painted black figures on naturally red
pottery. This method became known as the black figure style. A painter named Exekias
was a master of the style. About 530 B. C.
Greek artists developed the red figure style, the reverse of the black figure
style. These artists painted the background of their pottery in black and let
natural red show through to form the figures. The red figure painters, like the
Greek sculptors of the same period, created extremely lifelike figures. This “
became the chief quality of the so-called classical
art of the Greek and Romans.
made realistic figures and indicated emotion by facial expression or bodily
pose. This was the style copied by Roman sculptors and relearned by Renaissance
sculptors. It serve
d as the basic style for
European sculpture until the late 1800's. The Greeks thought of their gods as
being like people, and sculptors portrayed gods as people in such works as the “
Greek God Poseidon”
. They showed people
as godlike beings. The earliest important classical sculpture appeared on the
Temple of Zeus at Olympia.
The high point of the
classical style is generally considered to be the sculptures on the Parthenon
in Athens. Sculptures decorated sarcophagi with reliefs. Portrait sculpture
also began during this period.
We know more about
Roman painting than Greek painting because a wider selection of Roman paintings
has survived. Roman artist
influenced by the Greeks. They gave the figures in their paintings the same
lifelike quality. Roman artists added to the reality of their works by painting
convincing illusions of depth, shade, shadow and reflected light. Some of the
best examples of Roman painting have been Found in the ruins of the city of
Pompeii. The house of two brothers named Vettius contains frescoes portraying
stories about lxion, a mythical hero. These frescoes consist of elaborately
designed painted panels.
The finest work of Roman sculptors was probably their mass-produced portrait
sculpture. To meet the large demand for portrait busts, the Romans developed a
set of standard symbols for hair, eyes, nose, and mouth. A student learned to
carve by reproducing these details accurately, rather than by copying a living
model. Art schools used this method of teaching until as recently as the
The Romans were
deeply religious, and many reliefs from altars show ceremonies or symbolic
stories. A famous example of such sculpture is the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace)
The Romans also
were particularly interested in showing historical events, a theme that the
Greeks had avoided. Reliefs of commemorative arches and columns tell the story
of complete military campaigns. The best-known columns are Trojan’s Column and
the Column of Marcus Aureoles.
the painting of Asia, has three main branches — Indian, Chinese, and Islamic.
Indian painting, is
primarily religious art. Indian painters create their works to help the people
communicate with their gods. Their main subject include gods and stories about
the gods and holy people. Indian artists paint on manuscripts of holy texts, on
banners and wallhangings, and on walls. They direct all the elements of their
pictures toward increasing the religious experience of the viewer. Every object
and figure in their paintings has a specific meaning. Gods are usually
portrayed as red and fierce in order to show their great power. Their many arms
let them display all the symbols of their power at once. The god appears
warlike and full of motion, which shows that he can conquer his enemies. The
artists do not attempt to show gods and the other figures in real space. All
the figures seem to float in a heavenly atmosphere. They are seated on clouds
or lotus plants. Clouds and a ring of flame — which symbolize the universe —
encircle the chief figure and fill the background with swirling movements and
The major Chinese religions al stressed a love of nature. Partly as a result,
tree major kinds of subject matter dominate
They are birds and flowers; figures; and landscapes of the countryside,
mountains, and sea. Chinese landscape painters tried to create a feeling of union
between the human spirit and the energy of the wind. water, mist, and
mountains. Such pictures express the Chinese belief that there is an inner
harmony and balance among all things in the world. Chinese painters use black
ink that could produce different tones and a brush that could many kinds of
lines. Artists created many paintings in black ink only. Even when they added
color, the ink drawing remained the basis of the design. The Chinese paid more
attention to the brushstrokes than to the subject matter. Most surviving
Chinese painting are painted on silk or an absorbent paper. Many artists
painted on walls or a large screens. All these paintings require special study.
The artist intended their works to be examined only if the viewer had time to enjoy
them without distraction.
In China, painters,
like poets and scholars, were considered persons of learning and wisdom.
Chinese paintings were closely associated with poetry. Many Chinese paintings
combine certain objects, such as a particular bird or flower, because the
objects are associated with a famous poem.
produced many great landscapes painted on long scrolls. The viewer unrolls the
scroll slowly from right to left, revealing a continuous succession of scenes
of the countryside. These hand scrolls are in a uniquely Chinese art form.
Appreciation of them requires much patience and thought.
Xia Gui and Ma Yuan
created a style of idealized landscapes that greatly influenced Chinese and
Human figures were
also important in Chinese painting. Artists painted portraits of both real and
imaginary people. They painted scenes that illustrate stories and historical
subjects. Many paintings show the elegant, refined life at court. Some of these
pictures show furniture and decorations in great detail. Others have a plain
background. All these paintings are remarkable for a delicacy of line.
is included in the tradition of Chinese painting because Japan's art was
greatly influenced by China's. However, the Japanese changed the Chinese styles
to suit their own taste. The Japanese use of the color and abstract design had
transformed the art into a new form of expression. Japanese artists were
interested in the time and place in which they lived. Their paintings show
their fondness for storytelling as well as for art that appeals to the emotions
and the senses.
From the 1500's to
the 1800's, Japanese artists painted in a style that strongly emphasized color
and design. These artists were called decorators. The decorators omitted detail
from their pictures and stressed only outlines. They applied their color evenly
with no shading. The decorators often added gold leaf to their paintings for an
effect of luxury. The finest decorative paintings were pictures of nature,
particularly animals, flowers, and landscapes.
Throughout most of
its history, Japanese painting has reflected the taste of the upper classes.
But the Japanese style most familiar in the West is an art of the common
people. The style is called ukiyo-e (the floating world). The floating world is
a world of pleasure and entertainment, and of great actors and beautiful women.
Islamic painting is
primarily the creation of beautiful books through calligraphy and illustration.
Calligraphers copied texts in elegant handwriting, and artists added
illustration to increase the beauty of the books. Calligraphers copied the
texts of Koran, the Islamic holy book, on pages that were then covered with
gold leaf. Early Islamic artists decorated the pages with complicated patterns
because their religion prohibited the making of images of human beings and
animals. However, as time passed, many Islamic artists — especially those
living in Persia - began painting human and animal figures.
In addition to the
Koran, Persian artists illustrated collections of fables, histories, love
poems, and scientific works. These illustrations have jewel — like color, the
most important element in Islamic painting. The artists did not try to portray
the real world, but instead tried to create a luxurious, ideal setting to
delight the eye and simulate the imagination.
refers to most of the art produced in Europe during a period of about 100
years. This period began with the fall of the Roman Empire in the AD 300's and
400's and ended with the beginning of the Renaissance in the 1300's. Almost all
medieval artists dealt with religious subjects, they developed several styles.
One of these styles, called Byzantine, became the most important tradition
among Christian artists of eastern Europe and the Near East.
Starting in the AD 300's, eastern Christians gradually separated from the
western Christians, who were ruled by the pope in Rome. Eastern Christians art
is called Byzantine because the religion centered in the city of Byzantium (now
Istanbul, Turkey). By the 500's, the Byzantine artists had developed a special
style of religious painting. The Byzantine painting style has remained largely
unchanged to the present day. Byzantine pictures portray colorful but unlifelike
figures that stand for religious ideas rather than flash-and-blood people. The
artists were not interested to techniques that would help show the world as it
was. They generally ignored perspective and gave their works a flat look. They
made wide use of symbols in their works in order to tell stories.
The CJTeat age of
received Christianity from Byzantium in the late 1000's, an important part of
the culture transplanted onto Russian soil was the early medieval art that Byzantium
had brought to a level of great sophistication. For the Orthodox Church, icons
(images of holy personages or events) where an integral part of worship and
theology, testifying to the reality of the incarnation. Characteristically
icons were painted in tempera on wooden panels, though they may be of other
materials, and the fresco wall paintings (occasionally mosaics) with which
early churches were always adorned are equally “iconic”.
After the Tatar
conquest building activity, and with it painting, revived gradually during the
1400's. First Novgorod, then increasingly Moscow were the major patrons; but
the political fragmentation of the time led to productive artistic activity in
many smaller places. Contacts will] the Mediterranean world revived: Serbian
painters worked in Novgord; the learned Greek Theophanes (in Russian Feofan)
worked both there and in Moscow. But home-bred talents made this the great age
of Russian painting; notably the monk Andrew Rublyov (c. 1370-1430). He is
first recorded as one of the painters of the Moscow Annunciation Cathedral in
1405. He was evidently aware of new stylistic currents in Byzantine art of the
time — and also conveys the Hellenistic impetus behind Byzantine art generally.
The famous so-called “01d Testament Trinity was painted in memory of St.
Sergius when the Trinity Monastery was restored after the Tatar raid of 1408.
The scene is the Hospitality of Abraham: three pilgrims, recognized as angles,
are given a meal by Abraham and Sarah.
Few icons survive
from Kievan Russia: those that do mostly display a static unclutted
monumentality. In the early Tatar period Russian art, thrown back on its own
resources, shows a “folk” quality, with expressive, plastic distortions and
simplifications of figure stye and clear, unnaturalistic colors. When Russian
culture revived in the late 1400's its art was able to draw on both these
aspects of its past, but also on renewed international contacts, above all with
Byzantium. There were certainly also contacts with the South Slavs, but none
can be proved with Western Europe. The best painters of the late medieval
Orthodox lands seem to have sought a tender expressivity, though in the case of
Rublyov combined with gravitas and a pure and monumental line. There seems to
be a truly classical impulse at work here, whether looking back to the nobility
of Kievan art or through recent Byzantine models to a sort of refined
Hellenistic legacy. The painters of the 1500's seemed to share a common
interest in unnaturalistic but often dramatic effects of light, notably in
scenes such as the Transfiguration and the Descent into Hell, it is reasonable
to see in this an effect of Hesychast mysticism.
Icon painters had
singular opportunities in the early 15 00's as a result of the development of
the iconostasis, a wooden screen closing off the altar area of a church and
clad with tiers of icons, often life-Osize or greater. The central tier (the
“Deisis”) represented holy figures interceding with Christ on behalf of the
worshipers. The iconostasis as a gallery of representations of saints compares
with the great sculpted portals of Western medieval cathedrals, while the
opening and closing of its central doors enhance the drama of the liturgy. The
impact of the whole ambience is increased by the frescoes covering all interior
walls and ceilings. Good examples of these survive, though fragmentarily in
Novgorod (World War II took a heavy toll here), and include paintings by
Theophanes. There are wall paintings by Rublyov in the Dormition Cathedral at
Vladimir. A small number of very fine illuminated gospels books of the period
have been attributed to the circles of both artists.
1400, European painting flourished as never before. This era of great painting
took place during the period of history called the Renaissance. The Renaissance
began in Italy about 1300 and spread northward. By 1600, it had effected nearly
One very important
aspect of the Renaissance was a great revival of interest in the art and literature
of ancient Rome. This revival had an enormous influence on painting. Religious
subject matter remained important. But artists included elements of Roman
architecture in their pictures. The Italian city of Florence and the northern
Europe — an region of Flanders became the major centers of painting in the
one of the greatest Florentine masters, became the leading interpreter of
Neoplatonism. Neoplatonism was a complicated religious theory that combined
ancient mythology, Greek philosophy, and Christianity to explain God, beauty,
and truth. Botticelli's “Birth of Venus” is based on a Greek myth. The myth
tells how Venus, the goddess of beauty and love, was born in the sea and was
blown to shore on a shell by the winds. The style and perspective of the
picture do not follow the sculptural style of ancient Greece. In his attempt to
express spiritual qualities, Botticelli returned to an almost medieval style.
Venus' body curves in such a way that she seems much like a paper doll floating
in the air. The design of the picture is more flat and decorative than most
Leonardo da Vinci
was probably the greatest artist of the 1400's. His portrait “Mona Lisa” and
his religious scene “the Last Supper” rank among the most famous pictures ever
Leonardo, as he is
almost always called, was trained to e a painter. But he became one of the most
versatile geniuses in history. His interests and achievements spread into an
astonishing variety of fields, such as anatomy, astronomy, botany, and geology.
Leonardo's paintings made him famous, and his more graceful approach marked the
beginning of the High Renaissance Style.
painting “The Last Supper” about 1497. He created the famous scene on a wall of
the dining hall in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It shows Christ
and his 12 apostles just after Jesus has announced that one of the them will
betray him. Leonardo changed the traditional arrangement of the figures from a
line of 13 figures to several small groups. Each apostle responds in a
different way to Christ's announcement. Jesus sits in the center of the scene,
apart from the other figures Leonardo's composition creates a more active and
centralized design than earlier artists had achieved.
When painting “The
Last Supper”, Leonardo rejected the fresco technique normally used for wall
paintings. An artist who uses this fresco method must work quickly. But
Leonardo wanted to paint slowly, revise his work, and use shadows — all of
which would have been impossible in fresco painting. He developed a new
techniques that involved coating the wall with a compound he had created. But
the compound, which was supposed to hold in place and protect it from moisture.
Did not work. Soon after Leonardo completed the picture, the paint began to
flake away. “The Last Supper” still exists, but in poor condition.
“The Mona Lisa” is
a portrait of Lisa del Giacondo, the young wife of a Florentine merchant. It is
often called “La Gioconda”. “The Mona Lisa” became famous because of the
mysterious smile of the subject. Actually, Leonardo showed the woman's face
moving into or out of a smile. He arranged her folded hands so that the figure
formed a pyramid design. Leonardo's technique solved a problem that had faced
earlier portrait painters. These artists had shown only the head and upper part
of the body, and the picture seemed to cut off the subject at the cheat.
Leonardo's placement of the hands of the “Mona Lisa” gave the woman a more
complete, natural appearance. On the whole, Leonardo's paintings are remarkable
for their delicate use of Shadow and their sense of motion.
By the early
1500's, Rome had replaced Florence as the chief center of Italian painting. The
popes lived in Rome, and they spent great sums on art to make Rome the most
glorious city of the Christian world. In addition, two of the greatest artists
in history - Raphael and Michelangelo - worked there. The style of painting
that centered in Rome during the early 1500's is called High Renaissance. It
combined elements of many earlier styles, including graceful figures, classical
Roman realism, and linear perspective. The works of Raphael and Michelangelo
best show the High Renaissance style of painting.
balanced, harmonious designs that express a calm, noble way of life. This style
appealed to Italians of the early 1500's. During this period, the Roman
Catholic Church was sure of its supreme position in Europe, and leading
Italians were convinced that the great classical Roman civilization had been
reborn and was flourishing in Italy.
strongly influenced by Leonardo da Vinces style of arranging figures to form a
pyramid. He used this compositional form often in a series of paintings of the
Madonna (the Virgin Mary). In these paintings Madonna is as graceful as a
goddess. Her manner suggests the Renaissance ideal that a good woman should be
faithful, humble, and pure.
of Athens” covers one wall of the Stanza (a room in the pope's private quarters
in the Vatican). He used the actual arch in the wall to frame the painting.
Three painted arches serve as a background for the ancient Greek philosophers
and scientists in the front of the scene. In the center, beneath the arches,
stand Plato and Aristotle, the leading philosophers. Raphael grouped the main
representatives of the schools of Greek philosophy and science in casual but
carefully organized arrangements. The scene expresses the sense of clarity,
space, and proportion for which Raphael became famous.
as a sculptor until the pope ordered him to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine
Chapel in the Vatican. "The Creation of Adam" is one frexo from the
chapel ceiling. It shows God moving on a cloud among many angels. He extends a
figures toward Adam raises his arm to receive the spark of life. Michelangelo's
human figures are more sculptural and solidlooking than Raphael's. Raphael's
figures seem happier and more graceful, but not so herac and powerful as
Venice ranked second only to Rome as a center of Italian art during the 1500's.
Venice was a commercial city that handled much of the trade between Europe and
the East. Venetian painters showed the influence of Eastern art in their
fascination with color. Their works also show a trend away from interest in the
hard outline and sculptural and heroic figures found in the paintings of
Florence and Rome. Venetian painters tried to please and relax the viewers
rather than inspire them to noble deeds. Giorgione, Titian and Tintoretto were
the most famous. They all were neasters of oil painting.
The texture of the
paint itself interested some Venetian artists more than the subject matter.
These painters brushed on their paint in thick strokes. Sometimes they seem
almost to have painted their pictures in sweeping brushstrokes. These pictures
are often full of motion and action, and invite the viewer to an imaginary
world where he can relax in the presence of beautiful women and lovely nature.
Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church's response to the Protestant
Reformation, and the rise of nationalism in many European countries helped
bring about a major painting style - baroque, Baroque and a related style,
rococo, dominated European painting during the 1600's and 1700's. The
Reformation forced the Roman Catholic Church to organize against Protestantism.
Church officials wanted to use art in order to spread Catholic ideas and
teachings. The church told artists that they should create religious paintings
that would be realistic and easy to understand and - most importantly - would
inspire religious emotional reactions in viewers. These qualities formed the
basic of the baroque painting style.
Peter Paul Rubens
of Flanders was one of the greatest of the painters who adopted the baroque
style. He skillfully combined realism and classical style. Rubens was also
influenced by the Venetian technique of painting in thick oils.
The “Elevation of
the Cross” shows Rubens' baroque style. This painting is a highly emotional
religious scene. Several half-naked bodies strain to lift Jesus into the cross
as spectators look on in sorrow and fear. Rubens intensified the feeling of
action and struggle by drawing his composition in diagonal lines. He further
heightened the picture's lights appeal by painting the highlights in thick
masses of pigment and the dark colors in semitransparent brownish glazes. The
painting shows Rubens' remarkable ability in drawing the studio and employed
many assistants, of whom Anton Van Dyck was the most famous. Diego Velkazquez,
who painted at the Spanish court, was another master of baroque. Both Van Dyck
and Velazquez gained their greatest fame as portrait painters. Their portraits
showed rulers in aristocratic poses. Such portraits were intended to display
the vertues and dignity of the rulers. This type of elegant portrait is called
a state portrait, and became popular during the 1600's. Anyhow, Velazquez'
portraits seem more like personal pictures from a family album than paintings
advertising the rulers.
Dutch painting. By
the late 1600's, the Netherlands had become one of the world's major commercial
and colonial powers. As the country gained wealth, the Dutch people became
interested in luxury goods, including works of art. They liked almost any subject
reminded them of
their own comfortable middle-class lives. Dutch painters developed a distinct
style during the baroque period. Many Dutch artists specialized in painting
specific subjects, such as domestic scenes or tavern scenes. Painting that deals
with such ordinary, everyday subjects is called genre painting.
probably ranks as the greatest Dutch genre painter of the 1600's. Vermeer and
other Dutch genre artists painted small pictures, most of which had smooth,
glazed surfaces. Vermeer, a master of painting interior scenes, usually
portrayed women working at quiet household tasks. His art is particularly noted
for its treatment of sunlight as it floods into a room or falls on objects.
Rococo was a
painting style that developed out of baroque. Rococo artists gave their
paintings the decorative quality of baroque. But they painted most of their
pictures on a smaller scale than did the baroque painters. Much baroque
painting was energetic and heroic. Rococo painting communicated a sense of
relaxation. It also was light-hearted and had none of the seriousness of
baroque painting. Antone Watteau and Honore Fragonard are the most famous
a movement in painting which reflected political changes in Europe. The French
Revolution, which began in 1789, stressed the virtues of Roman civilization.
These virtues included discipline and high moral principles. Neo-classical
artists helped educate the French people in the goals of the new government.
They painted inspirational scenes from Roman history to create a feeling of
patriotism. They are Jacques Louis David and Jean Auguste Dominique of France.
Romanticism was a
reaction against the neo-classical emphasis on balanced, orderly pictures.
Romantic paintings expressed the imagination and emotions of the artists. The
painters replaced the clean, bright colors and harmonious compositors of
neo-classicism with scenes of violent activity dramatized by vigorous
brushstrokes, rich colors, and deep shadows.
Two English painters
- John Constable and Joseph M. W. Turner -made important contributions to
romanticism. Constable was a master of landscape painting. He developed a style
of rough brushstrokes, and broken color to catch the effected of lights in the
air, trees bent in the wind, and pond surfaces moved by a breeze. In his works
he tried to capture in oil paintings the fresh quality of water color sketches.
increasingly concerned with the effects of color. In his late works color
became one dazzling swirl of paint on the canvas. The influence of Constable
and Turner appeared during the late 1800"s in the works of the French
neo-classicism and romanticism declined , a new movement - realism - developed
in France. Guctave Courbet became the first great master of realistic painting.
Courbet painted landscapes, but his vision of nature was not so idealized as
that of other painters. He recorded the world around him so sharply that many
of his works were considered social protests. In one painting, for example, he
portrayed an old man and a youth in the agonizing work of breaking rocks with
hammers. The artist implied that something is wrong with a society that allows
people to spend their lives at such labor. The neo-classicists called Courbet's
paintings low and vulgar. But Courbet's works helped change the course of art.
The paintings were based on the artist's honest. Unsentimental observations of
life around him. From Courbet's time to the present day, many painters have
adopted his approach.
Brotherhood was an English art and literary movement founded in 1848. The
leading painters of the movement were William Holman Hunt, Sir John Everett,
Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The Pre-Raphaelite painters stood apart
from the major art movements of their century. They wanted to return to what
they believed was the purity and innocence of painting before Raphael. Most
Pre-Raphaelite art has a strong moral message through religious paintings.
Edward Manet was a
French artist who revolutionized painting in the mid-1800's. He developed a new
approach to art. He believed that painting do not have to express messages or
portray emotions. Manet was chiefly interested in painting beautiful pictures.
To him, beauty resulted from a combination of brushstrokes, colors, patterns,
and tones. Since Manet's time, most painters have emphasized the picture
itself, rather than its storytelling function. His "Luncheon on the
Grass" illustrates lack of concern for story.
developed by a group of French painters who did their major work between about
1870 and 1910. The impressionists included Claude Manet, Pierre Auguste Renoir,
and Edgar Degas. Like Manet, the impressionists, they chose to paint scenes
from everyday life, including buildings, landscapes, people, and scenes of city
traffic. Most of the people in their pictures were ordinary middle-class city
dwellers -like the painters themselves.
developed a revolutionary painting style. They based it on the fact that nature
changes continually. Leaves move in the wind, light transforms the appearance
of object, reflections alter color and form. As the viewer moves, the
perspective of what is seen changes. The impressionists tried to create
painting that capture ever - changing reality at a particular moment - much as
a camera does.
described a group of artists who attempted in various ways to extend the visual
language of painting beyond impressionism. The most influential
postimpressionists were Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh. All
were French except van Gogh, who was Dutch . Unlike the impressionists, who
emphasized light, Cezanne stressed form and mass. The distortion in his
pictures add force to the composition and give the subject an appearance of
permanence and strength. Gauguin's pictures are highly decorative. Gauguin's
pictures are highly decorative. Gauguin stressed flat color, strong patterns,
unshaded shapes, and curved lines. He constantly searched for purity and
simplicity in life. His search led him to the South Seas, where he settled on
the island of Tahiti. Like Gauguin, van Gogh wanted to express his innermost
feelings through his art. He believed he could achieve this goal through the
use of brilliant color and violent brushstrokes. He applied his oil colors
directly from the tube. without mixing them. The result was an art of
passionate intensity. Artists of the 1900's have continued the search for new
approaches to painting that characterized the work of the impressionists and
postimpressionists. Many art movements appeared during the 1900's. Each lasted
only a few years but added to the richness and variety of modern art. They are
fauvism, cubism, futurism, expressionism, dadaism, surrealism, etc. As time
passed, painters of the 1900's increasingly emphasized purely visual impact
rather than recognizable subject matter or storytelling.
Some art critics
say that too much of today's painting is concerned only with originality and
novelty. These critics agree that artists should discard traditions that no
longer meet their needs. But they point out that most great advances in style
and technique were achieved because artists believed they needed new methods to
express beliefs or ideas. Sometimes artists strive only to create original
painting styles. But originality for its own sake becomes boring unless the
painting has qualities that help it remain significant and interesting after
its novelty has worn off.