Leonardo da Vinci
Francisco de Goya
(Top Image: “Bryony” by Daniel Phill)
The concept of painting goes back into prehistory to cave art c.31,000 BC. This form of art consists of the method of applying pigment to canvas, walls, or other surfaces by using a bristle brush or palette knife. Pigments have been made from many natural substances including minerals and plants.
Painting has been used to express life in the world around us as far back as the prehistoric era of human existence. Cave art has been found around the world, showing the need for artistic expression is multicultural. The oldest-known pieces were most likely created by Neanderthals c.40,000 years ago. Many cave paintings show animals and humans hunting using red ochre and black pigments. Most likely some of the pigments have faded or been lost over time. Art had a continuous development in Eastern culture, specifically in China. Early pieces were more decorative than representative and were used for enhancing living spaces. During 403 221 B.C., Chinese and Japanese painters began making images of their daily lives, from which we can learn much about their histories. Calligraphy and printmaking were integrated into Asian art early on, turning these skills into art forms. Indian painting flourished in the eighteenth century, using a style called Rajput. These pieces were often created in miniature. Pigments were produced using minerals, plants, and conch shells and brushed on with fine bristle brushes. In South India, Tanjore art originated in the ninth century, using a base of powdered zinc oxide and adhesive. Western art began in ancient Egypt in the form of hieroglyphics, a kind of storytelling through images. Ancient Greece produced many paintings as well, but due to the climate, these didn’t survive. Greek and later Roman art featured realistic portrayals of life. Christianity influenced many Western cultures which can be seen through images. In the Byzantine Empire and throughout Catholic Europe, frescos were painted on church walls. After the thirteenth century, painters were influenced by Giotto, adding more realism to their works. The Renaissance began what many historians consider the modern age of art. From the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries, many famous artists were sponsored by wealthy patrons including Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo Buonarroti. While these painters were creating art in Italy, Dutch and Flemish artists including Albrecht Durer and Pieter Brueghel were also prolific. Painting continues today with modern styles ranging from Cubism, following the tradition of Pablo Picasso, and Expressionism in the works of Marc Chagall. Modern painters create pieces using both natural and manmade pigments in oil, watercolor, and acrylic and use numerous synthetic and natural brushes. The twentiethand twenty-first centuries have brought Abstract art into being with painters such as Piet Mondrian and Marc Rothko.
- Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, c.1503
- View of Toledo, by El Greco, c.1596
- The Blue Boy, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1770
- The Fighting Temeraire, by J. M. W. Turner, 1839
- I and the Village, by Marc Chagall, 1911
- Red vermillion occurs naturally in cinnabar.
- Natural bristle brushes are made with ox hair, boar bristles, and sable.
- The Roman Catholic Church was one of the biggest sponsors of art during the Renaissance.