Literature, Religion and Art in Europe: an Interdisciplinary Approach.
3. An Art in
European literature refers to the literature of
European literature includes literature in many languages; among the most important of the modern written works are those in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Polish, German, Italian, Modern Greek, Czech and Russian and works by the Scandinavians and Irish.
Important classical and medieval traditions are those in Latin, Ancient Greek, Old Norse, Medieval French and the Italian Tuscan dialect of the renaissance.
In colloquial speech, European literature often is used as a synonym for Western literature.
European literature is a part of world literature.
1 Ancient Greek Literature
2 Latin Literature
3 Italian Literature
4 Spanish Literature
5 Portuguese Literature
6 French Literature
7 Germanic Literature
8 English Literature
9 Russian Literature
10 Scandinavian Literature
11 Dutch, Flemish and Frisian literature
12 Slavic and East-European
1 Ancient Greek Literature
Classical and Pre-Classical Antiquity
This period of Greek literature stretches from Homer until the 4th century BC and the rise of Alexander the Great. Alfred North Whitehead once claimed that all of philosophy is but a footnote to Plato. To suggest that all of Western literature is no more than a footnote to the writings of ancient Greece is an exaggeration, but it is nevertheless true that the Greek world of thought was so far-ranging that there is scarcely an idea discussed today not already debated by the ancient writers.
The earliest known Greek writings are Mycenaean, written in the Linear B syllabary on clay tablets. These documents contain prosaic records largely concerned with trade (lists, inventories, receipts, etc.); no real literature has been discovered. Several theories have been advanced to explain this curious absence. One is that Mycenaean literature, like the works of Homer and other epic poems, was passed on orally, since the Linear B syllabary is not well-suited to recording the sounds of Greek (see phonemic principle). Another is that literary works, being the preserve of an elite, were written on finer materials such as parchment, which have not survived.
At the beginning of Greek literature stand the two monumental works of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The figure of Homer is shrouded in mystery. Although the works as they now stand are credited to him, it is certain that their roots reach far back before his time (see Homeric Question). The Iliad is the famous story about the Trojan War. It centers on the person of Achilles, who embodied the Greek heroic ideal.
While the Iliad is pure tragedy, the
Odyssey is a mixture of tragedy and comedy. It is the story of Odysseus, one of
the warriors at
The other great poet of the
preclassical period was Hesiod. Unlike Homer, Hesiod speaks of himself in his
poetry; it remains true that nothing is known about him from any external
source. He was a native of Boeotia in central
Main article: Nine lyric poets
The type of poetry called lyric got its name from the fact that it was originally sung by individuals or a chorus accompanied by the instrument called the lyre. The first of the lyric poets was probably Archilochus of Paros, circa 700 BC. Only fragments remain of his work, as is the case with most of the poets. The few remnants suggest that he was an embittered adventurer who led a very turbulent life.
The Greeks invented the epic and
lyric forms and used them skillfully. They also invented drama and produced
masterpieces that are still reckoned as drama's crowning achievement. In the
age that followed the Greco-Persian Wars, the awakened national spirit of
Like tragedy, comedy arose from a
ritual in honor of Dionysus, but in this case the plays were full of frank
obscenity, abuse, and insult. At
Historiography This article's tone or style may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. Specific concerns may be found on the talk page. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for suggestions. (December 2008)
Two of the most excellent historians
who have ever written flourished during
A third historian of ancient
The greatest achievement of the 4th
century was in philosophy. There were many Greek philosophers, but three names
tower above the rest: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It is impossible to
calculate the enormous influence these thinkers have had on Western society . Socrates himself wrote nothing, but his thought
(or a reasonable presentation of it) is believed to be given by Plato's early socratic dialogues. Aristotle is virtually without rivals
among scientists and philosophers. The first sentence of his Metaphysics reads:
"All men by nature desire to know." He has, therefore, been called
the "Father of those who know." His medieval disciple Thomas Aquinas
referred to him simply as "the Philosopher." Aristotle was a student
at Plato's Academy, and it is known that like his teacher he wrote dialogues,
or conversations. None of these exists today. The body of writings that has
come down to the present probably represents lectures that he delivered at his
own school in
By 338 BC all of the Greek
The city of
Later Greek poetry flourished primarily in the 3rd century BC. The chief poets were Theocritus, Callimachus, and Apollonius of Rhodes. Theocritus, who lived from about 310 to 250 BC, was the creator of pastoral poetry, a type that the Roman Virgil mastered in his Eclogues. Of his rural-farm poetry, Harvest Home is considered the best work. He also wrote mimes, poetic plays set in the country as well as minor epics and lyric poetry.
Callimachus, who lived at the same
time as Theocritus, worked his entire adult life at
Apollonius of Rhodes was born about
295 BC. He is best remembered for his epic the 'Argonautica', about Jason and his
shipmates in search of the golden fleece. Apollonius
studied under Callimachus, with whom he later quarreled. He also served as
The Hellenistic and Roman Periods
While the transition from city-state
to empire affected philosophy a great deal, shifting the emphasis from
political theory to personal ethics, Greek letters continued to flourish both
under the Successors (especially the Ptolemies) and under Roman rule. Romans of
literary or rhetorical inclination looked to Greek models, and Greek literature
of all types continued to be read and produced both by native speakers of Greek
and later by Roman authors as well. A notable characteristic of this period was
the expansion of literary criticism as a genre, particularly as exemplified by
Demetrius, Pseudo-Longinus and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. The Greek novel,
The significant historians in the period after Alexander were Timaeus, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Appian of Alexandria, Arrian, and Plutarch. The period of time they cover extended from late in the 4th century BC to the 2nd century AD.
Timaeus was born in
Diodorus Siculus lived in the 1st
century BC, the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus. He wrote a universal
history, 'Bibliotheca historica', in 40 books. Of these, the first five and the
11th through the 20th remain. The first two parts covered history through the
early Hellenistic era. The third part takes the story to the beginning of
Caesar's wars in Gaul, now
Appian and Arrian both lived in the
2nd century AD. Appian wrote on
Science and mathematics
Eratosthenes of Alexandria, who died
about 194 BC, wrote on astronomy and geography, but his work is known mainly
from later summaries. He is credited with being the first person to measure the
Earth's circumference. Much that was written by the mathematicians Euclid and
Archimedes has been preserved.
The physician Galen, in the history
of ancient science, is the most significant person in medicine after
Hippocrates, who laid the foundation of medicine in the 5th century BC. Galen
lived during the 2nd century AD. He was a careful student of anatomy, and his
works exerted a powerful influence on medicine for the next 1,400 years . Strabo, who died about AD 23, was a geographer and
historian. His 'Historical Sketches' in 47 volumes has nearly all been lost.
His Geographical Sketches remain as the only existing ancient book covering the
whole range of people and countries known to the Greeks and Romans through the
time of Augustus. Pausanias, who lived in the 2nd century AD, was also a
geographer. His Description of Greece is an invaluable guide to what are now
ancient ruins. His book takes the form of a tour of
Later philosophical works were no match for Plato and Aristotle. Epictetus, who died about AD 135, was associated with the moral philosophy of the Stoics. His teachings were collected by his pupil Arrian in the 'Discourses' and the 'Encheiridion' (Manual of Study). Diogenes Laertius, who lived in the 3rd century, wrote 'Lives, Teachings, and Sayings of Famous Philosophers', a useful sourcebook. Another major philosopher of his period was Plotinus. He transformed Plato's philosophy into a school called Neoplatonism. His 'Enneads' had a wide-ranging influence on European thought until at least the 17th century
2 Latin Literature
Latin literature, the body of
written works in the Latin language, remains an enduring legacy of the culture
Latin literature is conventionally divided into distinct periods. Few works remain of Early and Old Latin; among these few surviving works, however, are the plays of Plautus and Terence, which have remained very popular in all eras down to the present, while many other Latin works, including many by the most prominent authors of the Classical period, have disappeared, sometimes being re-discovered after centuries, sometimes not. Such lost works sometimes survive as fragments in other works which have survived, but others are known from references in such works as Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia or the De Architectura of Vitruvius.
The period of Classical Latin, when Latin literature is widely
considered to have reached its peak, is divided into the Golden Age, which
covers approximately the period from the start of the 1st century BCE up to the
mid-1st century CE, and the Silver Age, which extends into the 2nd century CE.
Literature written after the mid-2nd century has often been disparaged and
ignored; in the Renaissance, for example, when many Classical authors were
re-discovered and their style consciously imitated. Above all,
The Medieval World
For most of the Medieval
era, Latin was the dominant written language in use in western Europe. After
Naturalis Historia, 1669 edition, title page.
It was probably only after the
invention of printing, which made books and pamphlets cheap enough that a mass
public could afford them, and which made possible modern phenomena such as the
newspaper, that a large number of people in the West could read and write who
were not fluent in Latin. Still, many people continued to write in Latin,
although they were mostly from the upper classes and/or professional academics.
As late as the 17th century, there was still a large audience for Latin poetry
and drama; it was not unusual, for example, that
Although the number of works of non-fiction and drama, history and philosophy written in Latin has continued to dwindle, the Latin language is still not dead. Well into the twentieth century, some knowledge of Latin was required for admission into many universities, and theses and dissertations written for graduate degrees were often required to be written in Latin. Treatises in chemistry and biology and other natural sciences were often written in Latin as late as the early 20th century. Up to the present day, the editors of Latin and Greek texts in such series as the Oxford Classical Texts, the Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana and some others still write the introductions to their editions in polished and vital Latin. Among these Latin scholars of the 20th and 21st centuries are R A B Mynors, R J Tarrant, L D Reynolds and John Brisco.
3 Italian Literature
Italian literature is literature
written in the Italian language, particularly within
First page of an early printed edition of Dante's Divine Comedy.
Dante, the greatest of Italian
poets, also shows these lyrical tendencies. In 1293 he wrote
Several of the lyrics of the Canzoniere deal with the theme of the new life. Not all the love poems refer to Beatrice, however—other pieces are philosophical and bridge over to the Convito.
The Divine Comedy
The work which made Dante immortal,
and raised him above all other men of genius in Italy, was his Divina Commedia,
which tells of the poet's travels through the three realms of the dead—Hell,
Purgatory, and Paradise—accompanied by the Latin poet Virgil. An allegorical
meaning is hidden under the literal one of this great epic. Dante, travelling
through Hell, Purgatory and
The merit of the poem does not lie in the allegory, which still connects it with medieval literature. What is new is the individual art of the poet, the classic art transfused for the first time into a Romance form. Whether he describes nature, analyses passions, curses the vices or sings hymns to the virtues, Dante is notable for the grandeur and delicacy of his art. He took the materials for his poem from theology, philosophy, history, and mythology, but especially from his own passions, from hatred and love. Under the pen of the poet, the dead come to life again; they become men again, and speak the language of their time, of their passions. Farinata degli Uberti, Boniface VIII, Count Ugolino, Manfred, Sordello, Hugh Capet, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cacciaguida, St. Benedict, and St. Peter, are all so many objective creations; they stand before us in all the life of their characters, their feelings, and their habits.
The real chastizer of the sins and rewarder of virtues is Dante himself. The personal interest he brings to bear on the historical representation of the three worlds is what most interests us and stirs us. Dante remakes history after his own passions. Thus the Divina Commedia is not only a life-like drama of contemporary thoughts and feelings, but also a clear and spontaneous reflection of the individual feelings of the poet, from the indignation of the citizen and the exile to the faith of the believer and the ardour of the philosopher. The Divina Commedia defined the destiny of Italian literature, giving artistic lustre to all forms of literature the Middle Ages had produced. Dante, some scholars say, began the Renaissance.
Main article: Petrarch
Statue outside the Uffizi,
Two facts characterize the literary
life of Petrarch: classical research and the new human feeling introduced into
his lyric poetry. The facts are not separate; rather, the former caused the
latter. The Petrarch who unearthed the works of the great Latin writers helps
us understand the Petrarch who loved a real woman, named Laura, and celebrated
her in her life and after her death in poems full of studied elegance. Petrarch
was the first humanist, and he was at the same time the first modern lyric
poet. His career was long and tempestuous. He lived for many years at
His Canzoniere is divided into three
parts: the first containing the poems written during Laura's lifetime, the
second the poems written after her death, the third the Trionfi. The one and
only subject of these poems is love; but the treatment is full of variety in
conception, in imagery and in sentiment, derived from the most varied
impressions of nature. Petrarch's lyric verse is quite different, not only from
that of the Provencal troubadours and the Italian poets before him, but also
from the lyrics of Dante. Petrarch is a psychological poet, who examines all
his feelings and renders them with an art of exquisite sweetness. The lyrics of
Petrarch are no longer transcendental like Dante's, but keep entirely within
human limits. The second part of the Canzoniere is the more passionate. The
Trionfi are inferior; in them Petrarch tried to imitate the Divina Commedia,
but failed. The Canzoniere includes also a few political poems, one supposed to
be addressed to Cola di Rienzi and several sonnets against the court of
Avignon. These are remarkable for their vigour of feeling, and also for showing
that, compared to Dante, Petrarch had a sense of a broader Italian
consciousness. The Italy which he wooed was different from any conceived by the
men of the Middle Ages, and in this also he was a precursor of modern times and
of modern aspirations. Petrarch had no decided political idea. He exalted Cola
di Rienzi, invoked the emperor Charles IV, and praised the Visconti; in fact,
his politics were affected more by impressions than by principles. Above all
this was his love of
Boccaccio had the same enthusiastic love of antiquity and the same worship for the new Italian literature as Petrarch. He was the first to put together a Latin translation of the Iliad and, in 1375, the Odyssey. His classical learning was shown in the work De genealogia deorum, in which he enumerates the gods according to genealogical trees from the various authors who wrote about the pagan divinities. The Genealogia deorum is, as A. H. Heeren said, an encyclopaedia of mythological knowledge; and it was the precursor of the humanist movement of the 15th century. Boccaccio was also the first historian of women in his De mulieribus claris, and the first to tell the story of the great unfortunates in his De casibus virorum illustrium. He continued and perfected former geographical investigations in his interesting book De montibus, silvis, fontibus, lacubus, fluminibus, stagnis, et paludibus, et de nominibus maris, for which he made use of Vibius Sequester. Of his Italian works, his lyrics do not come anywhere near to the perfection of Petrarch's. His narrative poetry is better. He did not invent the octave stanza, but was the first to use it in a work of length and artistic merit, his Teseide, the oldest Italian romantic poem. The Filostrato relates the loves of Troiolo and Griseida (Troilus and Cressida). It may be that Boccaccio knew the French poem of the Trojan war by Benoit de Sainte-More; but the interest of his poem lies in the analysis of the passion of love. The Ninfale fiesolano tells the love story of the nymph Mesola and the shepherd Africo. The Amorosa Visione, a poem in triplets, doubtless owed its origin to the Divina Commedia. The Ameto is a mixture of prose and poetry, and is the first Italian pastoral romance.
The Filocopo takes the earliest place among prose romances. In it Boccaccio tells the loves of Florio and Biancafiore. Probably for this work he drew materials from a popular source or from a Byzantine romance, which Leonzio Pilato may have mentioned to him. In the Filocopo there is a remarkable exuberance in the mythological part, which damages the romance as an artistic work, but which contributes to the history of Boccaccio's mind. The Fiammetta is another romance, about the loves of Boccaccio and Maria d'Aquino, a supposed natural daughter of King Robert, whom he always called by this name of Fiammetta.
The Italian work which principally
made Boccaccio famous was the Decamerone, a collection of a hundred novels,
related by a party of men and women, who had retired to a villa near
Unlike Petrarch, who was always
discontented, preoccupied, wearied with life, disturbed by disappointments, we
find Boccaccio calm, serene, satisfied with himself and with his surroundings.
Notwithstanding these fundamental differences in their characters, the two
great authors were old and warm friends. But their affection for Dante was not
equal. Petrarch, who says that he saw him once in his childhood, did not
preserve a pleasant recollection of him, and it would be useless to deny that
he was jealous of his renown. The Divina Commedia was sent him by Boccaccio,
when he was an old man, and he confessed that he never read it. On the other
hand, Boccaccio felt for Dante something more than love--enthusiasm. He wrote a
biography of him, of which the accuracy is now depreciated by some critics, and
he gave public critical lectures on the poem in Santa Maria del Fiore at
4 Spanish Literature
This article refers to the Spanish
language literature of
Due to historic, geographic and generational diversity, Spanish literature has known a great number of influences and it is very diverse. Some major literary movements can be identified within it.
5 Portuguese Literature
The Portuguese language was
developed gradually from the Vulgar language (i.e. Vulgar Latin) spoken in the
countries which formed part of the
6 French Literature
French literature is, generally
speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens
7 Germanic Literature
German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language.
This includes literature written in
German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there are some currents of literature influenced to a greater or lesser degree by dialects (e.g. Alemannic).
An early flowering of German literature is the Middle High German period of the High Middle Ages. Modern literature in German begins with the authors of the Enlightenment (such as Herder) and reaches its "classical" form at the turn of the 18th century with Weimar Classicism (Goethe and Schiller).
8 English Literature
The term English literature refers to literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; Joseph Conrad was born in Poland, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad, Vladimir Nabokov was Russian. In other words, English literature is as diverse as the varieties and dialects of English spoken around the world. In academia, the term often labels departments and programmes practising English studies in secondary and tertiary educational systems. Despite the variety of authors of English literature, works of William Shakespeare remain paramount throughout the English-speaking world.
This article primarily deals with
9 Russian Literature
Russian literature refers to the
10 Scandinavian Literature (
Scandinavia literature or Nordic
literature is the literature in the languages of the Nordic countries of
These peoples have produced an
important and influential literature. Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright, was
largely responsible for the popularity of modern realistic drama in
11 Dutch, Flemish and Frisian literature
Similar to other literary traditions
Dutch literature is not restricted to the
12 Slavic and East-European literature (
Polish literature is the literary
Czech literature is the literature
of the historical regions of
Czech literature is divided into several main time periods: the Middle Ages; the Hussite period; the years of re-Catholicization and the baroque; the Enlightenment and Czech reawakening in the 19th century; the avantgarde of the interwar period; the years under Communism and the Prague Spring; and the literature of the post-Communist Czech Republic. Czech literature and culture played a major role on at least two occasions when Czech society lived under oppression and no political activity was possible. On both of these occasions, in the early 19th century and then again in the 1960s, the Czechs used their cultural and literary effort to create political freedom and to establish a confident, politically aware nation.
Hungarian literature is literature
written in the Hungarian language, predominantly by Hungarians. Hungarian
literature may also include literature written in another language than
Hungarian (mostly Latin) which is significant due to its Hungary-related topic
or if it includes fragments in Hungarian. While virtually unknown in the
Anglosphere for centuries,
is known about the prehistoric religion of Neolithic Europe. Bronze and Iron
Age religion in
The Great Schism of the 11th and Reformation of the 16th century were to tear apart "Christendom" into hostile factions, and following the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, atheism and agnosticism became widespread in Western Europe. 19th century Orientalism contributed to a certain popularity of Buddhism, and the 20th century brought increasing syncretism, New Age and various new religious movements divorcing spirituality from inherited traditions for many Europeans. The latest history brought increased secularisation, and religious pluralism.
3. An Art in
Western art is the art of
European Countries, and those parts of the world that have come to follow
predominantly European cultural traditions such as the
Written histories of Western
art often begin with the art of the Ancient Middle East, Ancient Egypt and the
Ancient Aegean civilisations, dating from the 3rd millennium BC. Parallel with
these significant cultures, art of one form or another existed all over
The influence of the art of the Classical period waxed and waned throughout the next two thousand years, seeming to slip into a distant memory in parts of the Medieval period, to re-emerge in the Renaissance, suffer a period of what some early art historians viewed as "decay" during the Baroque period, to reappear in a refined form in Neo-Classicism and to be re-born in Post-Modernism.
The other major influence upon Western art has been Christianity, the commissions of the Church, architectural, painterly and sculptural, providing the major source of work for artists for about 1400 years, from 300 AD to about 1700 AD. The history of the Church was very much reflected in the history of art, during this period.
Secularism has influenced Western art since the Classical period, while most art of the last 200 years has been produced without reference to religion and often with no particular ideology at all. On the other hand, Western art has often been influenced by politics of one kind or another, of the state, of the patron and of the artist.
Western art is arranged into a number of stylistic periods, which, historically, overlap each other as different styles flourished in different areas. Broadly the periods are, Classical, Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Modern. Each of these is further subdivided.
The art of Ancient Egypt
represented the dominant high culture in the
To the north of
Roman art was influenced by
Almost the only painted
portraits surviving from the Ancient world are a large number of
coffin-portraits of bust form found in the Late Antique
Most surviving art from the Medieval period was religious in focus, often funded by the Church, powerful ecclesiastical individuals such as bishops, communal groups such as abbeys, or wealthy secular patrons. Many had specific liturgical functions — processional crosses and altarpieces, for example.
One of the central questions
about Medieval art concerns its lack of realism. A
great deal of knowledge of perspective in art and understanding of the human
figure was lost with the fall of
Time Period: 6th century to 15th century
Byzantine art overlaps with or merges with
what we call Early Christian art until the iconoclasm period of 730-843 when
the vast majority of artwork with figures was destroyed; so little remains that
today any discovery sheds new understanding. After 843 until 1453 there is a
clear Byzantine art tradition. It is often the finest art of the Middle Ages in terms of quality of material and workmanship,
with production centered on
Early Medieval Art
Migration period art is a
general term for the art of the "barbarian" peoples who moved in to
formerly Roman territories. Celtic art in the 7th and 8th centuries saw a
fusion with Germanic traditions through contact with the Anglo-Saxons creating
what is called the Hiberno-Saxon style or Insular art, which was to be highly
influential on the rest of the Middle Ages. Merovingian art describes the art
of the Franks before about 800, when Carolingian art combined insular influences
with a self-conscious classical revival, developing into Ottonian art.
Anglo-Saxon art is the art of
Main article: Romanesque art
Romanesque art refers to the period from about 1000 to the rise of Gothic art in the 12th century. This was a period of increasing prosperity, and the first to see a coherent style used across Europe, from Scandinavia to Switzerland. Romanesque art is vigorous and direct, was originally brightly coloured, and is often very sophisticated. Stained glass and enamel on metalwork became important media, and larger sculptures in the round developed, although high relief was the principal technique. Its architecture is dominated by thick walls, and round-headed windows and arches, with much carved decoration.
Main article: Gothic art
Gothic art is a variable term depending on the craft, place and time.
The term originated with Gothic architecture in 1140, but Gothic painting did
not appear until around 1200 (this date has many qualifications), when it
diverged from Romanesque style. Gothic sculpture was born in
The Renaissance is characterized by a focus on the arts of Ancient
From Gothic to the Renaissance
During the late 13th and early 14th centuries, much of the painting in Italy was Byzantine in Character, notably that of Duccio of Siena and Cimabue of Florence, while Pietro Cavallini in Rome was more Gothic in style.
In 1290 Giotto began painting in a manner that was less traditional and
more based upon observation of nature. His famous cycle at the Scrovegni
Other painters of the 14th century were carried the Gothic style to great elaboration and detail. Notable among these painters are Simone Martini and Gentile da Fabriano.
The ideas of the Renaissance first emerged in the city-state of
A remarkable number of these major artists worked on different portions of the Florence Cathedral. Brunelleschi's dome for the cathedral was one of the first truly revolutionary architectural innovations since the Gothic flying buttress. Donatello created many of its sculptures. Giotto and Lorenzo Ghiberti also contributed to the cathedral.
High Renaissance artists include such figures as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Raffaello Santi.
The 15th-century artistic developments in Italy (for example, the interest in perspectival systems, in depicting anatomy, and in classical cultures) matured during the 16th century, accounting for the designations “Early Renaissance” for the 15th century and “High Renaissance” for the 16th century. Although no singular style characterizes the High Renaissance, the art of those most closely associated with this Period—Leonardo daVinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian—exhibits an astounding mastery, both technical and aesthetic. High Renaissance artists created works of such authority that generations of later artists relied on these artworks for instruction. These exemplary artistic creations further elevated the prestige of artists. Artists could claim divine inspiration, thereby raising visual art to a status formerly given only to poetry. Thus, painters, sculptors, and architects came into their own, successfully claiming for their work a high position among the fine arts. In a sense, 16th- century masters created a new profession with its own rights of expression and its own venerable character. .
Northern art up to the Renaissance
Early Netherlandish painting developed (but did not strictly invent) the technique of oil painting to allow greater control in painting minute detail with realism - Jan van Eyck (1366-1441) was the a figure in the movement from illuminated manuscripts to panel paintings.
Hieronymus Bosch (1450?-1516), a Dutch painter, is another important figure in the Northern Renaissance. In his paintings, he used religious themes, but combined them with grotesque fantasies, colourful imagery, and peasant folk legends. His paintings often reflect the confusion and anguish associated with the end of the Middle Ages.
Albrecht Dürer introduced Italian Renaissance style to
Italian Renaissance — Late 14th century to Early 16th century
Northern Renaissance — 16th century
Mannerism, Baroque and Rococo
Main articles: Mannerism, Baroque, and Rococo
In European art, Renaissance Classicism spawned two different movements— Mannerism and the Baroque. Mannerism, a reaction against the idealist perfection of Classicism, employed distortion of light and spatial frameworks in order to emphasize the emotional content of a painting and the emotions of the painter. The work of El Greco is a particularly clear example of Mannerism in painting during the late 16th, early 17th centuries. Northern Mannerism took longer to develop, and was largely a movement of the last half of the 16th century. Baroque art took the representationalism of the Renaissance to new heights, emphasizing detail, movement, lighting, and drama in their search for beauty. Perhaps the best known Baroque painters are Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Diego Velázquez. A rather different art developed out of northern realist traditions in 17th century Dutch Golden Age painting, which had very little religious art, and little history painting, instead playing a crucial part in developing secular genres such as still life, genre paintings of everyday scenes, and landscape painting. While the Baroque nature of Rembrandt's art is clear, the label is less use for Vermeer and many other Dutch artists. Flemish Baroque painting shared a part in this trend, while also continuing to produce the traditional categories.
Baroque art is often seen as part of the Counter-Reformation— the artistic element of the revival of spiritual life in the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, the emphasis that Baroque art placed on grandeur is seen as Absolutist in nature. Louis XIV said, "I am grandeur incarnate", and many Baroque artists served kings who tried to realize this goal. However, the Baroque love for detail is often considered overly-ornate and gaudy, especially as it developed into the even more richly decorated style of Rococo. After the death of Louis XIV, Rococo flourished for a short while, but soon fell out of favor. Indeed, disgust for the ornateness of Rococo was the impetus for Neoclassicism.
Mannerism — 16th century
Baroque — 17th century to 18th century
Rococo — Mid-18th century
Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Academism and Realism
As time passed, many artists were repulsed by the ornate grandeur of these styles and sought to revert to the earlier, simpler art of the Renaissance, creating Neoclassicism. Neoclassicism was the artistic component of the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment, which was similarly idealistic. Ingres, Canova, and Jacques-Louis David are among the best-known neoclassicists.
Just as Mannerism rejected Classicism, so did Romanticism reject the ideas of the Enlightenment and the aesthetic of the Neoclassicists. Romantic art focused on the use of color and motion in order to portray emotion, but like classicism used Greek and Roman mythology and tradition as an important source of symbolism. Another important aspect of Romanticism was its emphasis on nature and portraying the power and beauty of the natural world. Romanticism was also a large literary movement, especially in poetry. Among the greatest Romantic artists were Eugène Delacroix, Francisco Goya, J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, Caspar David Friedrich, Thomas Cole, and William Blake.
Most artists attempted to take a centrist approach which adopted
different features of Neoclassicist and Romanticist styles, in order to
synthesize them. The different attempts took place within the
In the early 19th century the face of
The response of architecture to industrialisation, in stark contrast to the other arts, was to veer towards historicism. Although the railway stations built during this period are often considered the truest reflections of its spirit – they are sometimes called "the cathedrals of the age" – the main movements in architecture during the Industrial Age were revivals of styles from the distant past, such as the Gothic Revival. Related movements were the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who attempted to return art to its state of "purity" prior to Raphael, and the Arts and Crafts Movement, which reacted against the impersonality of mass-produced goods and advocated a return to medieval craftsmanship.
Neoclassicism — 18th century to 19th century
Romanticism — Late 18th century to 19th century
Realism — 19th century
Impressionism, Post Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Modern art, and Modernism
Out of the naturalist ethic of Realism grew a major artistic movement, Impressionism. The Impressionists pioneered the use of light in painting as they attempted to capture light as seen from the human eye. Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, were all involved in the Impressionist movement. As a direct outgrowth of Impressionism came the development of Post-Impressionism. Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat are the best known Post-Impressionists.
Following the Impressionists and the Post-Impressionists came Fauvism, often considered the first "modern" genre of art. Just as the Impressionists revolutionized light, so did the fauvists rethink color, painting their canvases in bright, wild hues. After the Fauvists, modern art began to develop in all its forms, ranging from Expressionism, concerned with evoking emotion through objective works of art, to Cubism, the art of transposing a three-dimensional reality onto a flat canvas, to Abstract art. These new art forms pushed the limits of traditional notions of "art" and corresponded to the similar rapid changes that were taking place in human society, technology, and thought.
Surrealism is often classified as a form of Modern Art. However, the Surrealists themselves have objected to the study of surrealism as an era in art history, claiming that it oversimplifies the complexity of the movement (which they say is not an artistic movement), misrepresents the relationship of surrealism to aesthetics, and falsely characterizes ongoing surrealism as a finished, historically encapsulated era.
Other forms of Modern art (some of which border on Contemporary art) include:
Color Field painting
Der Blaue Reiter
Time Period: First half of the 20th century
Contemporary art and Postmodern art
Main articles: Contemporary art and Postmodern art
Recent developments in art have been characterised by a significant expansion of what can now deemed to be art, in terms of materials, media, activity and concept. Conceptual art in particular has had a wide influence. This started literally as the replacement of concept for a made object, one of the intentions of which was to refute the commodification of art. However, it now usually refers to an artwork where there is an object, but the main claim for the work is made for the thought process that has informed it. The aspect of commercialism has returned to the work.
There has also been an increase in art referring to previous movements and artists, and gaining validity from that reference.
Postmodernism in art, which has grown since the 1960s, differs from Modernism in as much as Modern art movements were primarily focused on their own activities and values, while Postmodernism uses the whole range of previous movements as a reference point. This has by definition generated a relativistic outlook, accompanied by irony and a certain disbelief in values, as each can be seen to be replaced by another. Another result of this has been the growth of commercialism and celebrity.
Some surrealists in particular Joan Miró, who called for the "murder of painting" (In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods and his desire to "kill", "murder", or "rape" them in favor of more contemporary means of expression). have denounced or attempted to "supersede" painting, and there have also been other anti-painting trends among artistic movements, such as that of Dada and conceptual art. The trend away from painting in the late 20th century has been countered by various movements, for example the continuation of Minimal Art, Lyrical Abstraction, Pop Art, Op Art, New Realism, Photorealism, Neo Geo, Neo-expressionism, and Stuckism and various other important and influential painterly directions.