Literature, Religion and Art in Europe: an Interdisciplinary Approach

Literature, Religion and Art in Europe: an Interdisciplinary Approach.

1. Literature.

2. Religion.

3. An Art in Europe.

1. Literature.

European literature refers to the literature of Europe.

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.

Contents

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 (Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark)

11 Dutch, Flemish and Frisian literature

12 Slavic and East-European literature (Poland, Czechia and Hungaria)

 

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.

 

Epic poetry

 

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 Troy. After ten years fighting the war, he spends another ten years sailing back home to his wife and family. During his ten-year voyage, he loses all of his comrades and ships and makes his way home to Ithaca disguised as a beggar. Both of these works were based on ancient legends. The stories are told in language that is simple, direct, and eloquent. Both are as fascinatingly readable today as they were in ancient Greece.

 

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 Greece, and is thought to have lived and worked around 700 BC. His two works were Works and Days and Theogony. The first is a faithful depiction of the poverty-stricken country life he knew so well, and it sets forth principles and rules for farmers. Theogony is a systematic account of creation and of the gods. It vividly describes the ages of mankind, beginning with a long-past Golden Age. Together the works of Homer and Hesiod made a kind of bible for the Greeks. Homer told the story of a heroic past, and Hesiod dealt with the practical realities of daily life.

 

Lyric poetry

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.

 

Tragedy

 

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 Athens was expressed in hundreds of superb tragedies based on heroic and legendary themes of the past. The tragic plays grew out of simple choral songs and dialogues performed at festivals of the god Dionysus. Wealthy citizens were chosen to bear the expense of costuming and training the chorus as a public and religious duty. Attendance at the festival performances was regarded as an act of worship. Performances were held in the great open-air theater of Dionysus in Athens. All of the greatest poets competed for the prizes offered for the best plays.

 

Comedy

 

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 Athens the comedies became an official part of the festival celebration in 486 BC, and prizes were offered for the best productions. As with the tragedians, few works still remain of the great comedic writers. Of the works of earlier writers, only some plays by Aristophanes exist. These are a treasure trove of comic presentation. He poked fun at everyone and every institution. For boldness of fantasy, for merciless insult, for unqualified indecency, and for outrageous and free political criticism, there is nothing to compare to the comedies of Aristophanes. In The Birds he held up Athenian democracy to ridicule. In The Clouds he attacked the philosopher Socrates. In Lysistrata he denounced war. Only 11 of his plays have survived.

 

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 Greece's classical age: Herodotus and Thucydides. Herodotus is commonly called the father of history, and his "History" contains the first truly literary use of prose in Western literature. Of the two, Thucydides was the better historian. His critical use of sources, inclusion of documents, and laborious research made his History of the Peloponnesian War a significant influence on later generations of historians.

 

A third historian of ancient Greece, Xenophon, began his 'Hellenica' where Thucydides ended his work about 411 BC and carried his history to 362 BC. His writings were superficial in comparison to those of Thucydides, but he wrote with authority on military matters. He therefore is at his best in the Anabasis, an account of his participation in a Greek mercenary army that tried to help the Persian Cyrus expel his brother from the throne. Xenophon also wrote three works in praise of the philosopher Socrates: Apology, Symposium, and Memorabilia. Although both Xenophon and Plato knew Socrates, their accounts are very different, and it is interesting to compare the view of the military historian to that of the poet-philosopher.

 

Philosophy

 

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 Athens, the Lyceum. Even from these books the enormous range of his interests is evident. He explored matters other than those that are today considered philosophical. The treatises that exist cover logic, the physical and biological sciences, ethics, politics, and constitutional government. There are also treatises on The Soul and Rhetoric. His Poetics has had an enormous influence on literary theory and served as an interpretation of tragedy for more than 2,000 years. With his death in 322 BC, the classical era of Greek literature drew to a close.

 

Hellenistic Age

 

By 338 BC all of the Greek city-states except Sparta had been conquered by Philip II of Macedon. Philip's son Alexander the Great extended his father's conquests greatly. In so doing he inaugurated what is called the Hellenistic Ages. Alexander's conquests were in the East, and Greek culture shifted first in that direction. Athens lost its preeminent status as the leader of Greek culture, and it was replaced temporarily by Alexandria, Egypt.

 

The city of Alexandria in northern Egypt became, from the 3rd century BC, the outstanding center of Greek culture. It also soon attracted a large Jewish population, making it the largest center for Jewish scholarship in the ancient world. In addition, it later became a major focal point for the development of Christian thought. The Museum, or Shrine to the Muses, which included the library and school, was founded by Ptolemy I. The institution was from the beginning intended as a great international school and library. The library, eventually containing more than a half million volumes, was mostly in Greek. It served as a repository for every Greek work of the classical period that could be found.

 

Hellenistic poetry

 

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 Alexandria, compiling a catalogue of the library. Only fragments of his poetry survive. The most famous work was Aetia (Causes). It is a kind of poem called an elegy and in four books explains the legendary origin of obscure customs, festivals, and names. Its structure became a model for the work of the Roman poet Ovid. Of his elegies for special occasions, the best known is the 'Lock of Berenice', a piece of court poetry that was later adapted by the Roman Catullus. Callimachus also wrote short poems for special occasions and at least one short epic, the 'Ibis', which was directed against his former pupil Apollonius.

 

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 librarian at Alexandria for about 13 years. Apart from the 'Argonautica', he wrote poems on the foundation of cities as well as a number of epigrams. The Roman poet Virgil was strongly influenced by the 'Argonautica' in writing his Aeneid. Lesser 3rd-century poets include Aratus of Soli and Herodas. Aratus wrote the 'Phaenomena', a poetic version of a treatise on the stars by Eudoxus of Cnidus, who had lived in the 4th century. Herodas wrote mimes reminiscent of those of Theocritus. His works give a hint of the popular entertainment of the times. Mime and pantomime were a major form of entertainment during the early Roman Empire

 

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, typified by Chariton's Callirhoe and the Hero and Leander of Pseudo-Musaeus, also emerged. The New Testament, written by various authors in varying qualities of Koine Greek also hails from this period, the most important works being the Gospels and the Epistles of Saint Paul.

 

Historiography

 

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 Sicily but spent most of his life in Athens. His 'History', though lost, is significant because of its influence on Polybius. In 38 books it covered the history of Sicily and Italy to the year 264 BC, which is where Polybius began his work. Timaeus also wrote the 'Olympionikai', a valuable chronological study of the Olympic Games. Polybius was born about 200 BC. He was brought to Rome as a hostage in 168. At Rome he became a friend of the general Scipio Aemilianus. He probably accompanied the general to Spain and North Africa in the wars against Carthage. He was with Scipio at the destruction of Carthage in 146. The history on which his reputation rests consisted of 40 books, five of which have been preserved along with various excerpts. They are a vivid recreation of Rome's rise to world power. A lost book, 'Tactics', was on military matters.

 

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 France. Dionysius of Halicarnassus lived late in the 1st century BC. His history of Rome from its origins to the First Punic War (264 to 241 BC) is written from a Roman point of view, but it is carefully researched. He also wrote a number of other treatises, including 'On Imitation', 'Commentaries on the Ancient Orators', and 'On the Arrangement of Words'.

 

Appian and Arrian both lived in the 2nd century AD. Appian wrote on Rome and its conquests, while Arrian is remembered for his work on the campaigns of Alexander the Great. Arrian served in the Roman army. His book therefore concentrates heavily on the military aspects of Alexander's life. Arrian also wrote a philosophical treatise, the 'Diatribai', based on the teachings of his mentor Epictetus . Best known of the late Greek historians to modern readers is Plutarch, who died about AD 119. His 'Parallel Lives' of great Greek and Roman leaders has been read by every generation since the work was first published. His other surviving work is the 'Moralia', a collection of essays on ethical, religious, political, physical, and literary topics.

 

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. Euclid is known for his Elements, much of which was drawn from his predecessor Eudoxus of Cnidus. The Elements is a treatise on geometry, and it has exerted a continuing influence on mathematics. From Archimedes several treatises have come down to the present. Among them are Measurement of the Circle, in which he worked out the value of pi; Method Concerning Mechanical Theorems, on his work in mechanics; The Sand Reckoner; and On Floating Bodies. A manuscript of his works is currently being studied.

 

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 Greece, starting in Athens. The accuracy of his descriptions has been proved by archaeological excavations. The scientist of the Roman period who had the greatest influence on later generations was undoubtedly the astronomer Ptolemy. He lived during the 2nd century AD, though little is known of his life. His masterpiece, originally entitled The Mathematical Collection, has come to the present under the title Almagest, as it was translated by Arab astronomers with that title. It was Ptolemy who devised a detailed description of an Earth-centered universe, a notion that dominated astronomical thinking for more than 1,300 years. The Ptolemaic view of the universe endured until Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and other early modern astronomers replaced it with heliocentrism.

 

Philosophy

 

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 of ancient Rome. The Romans produced many works of poetry, comedy, tragedy, satire, history, and rhetoric, drawing heavily on the traditions of other cultures and particularly on the more matured literary tradition of Greece. Long after the Western Roman Empire had fallen, the Latin language continued to play a central role in western European civilization.

 

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.

Classical Latin

 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, Cicero was imitated, and his style praised as the perfect pinnacle of Latin. Medieval Latin was often dismissed as inferior; but in fact, many great works of Latin literature were produced throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, although they are no longer as widely known as those written in the Classical period. Three works survived to inspire architects and engineers in the Renaissance, the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, the books by Frontinus on the aqueducts of Rome and the De Architectura of Vitruvius.

 

The Medieval World

 

For most of the Medieval era, Latin was the dominant written language in use in western Europe. After the Roman Empire split into its Western and Eastern halves, Greek, which had been widely used all over the Empire, faded from use in the West, all the more so as the political and religious distance steadily grew between the Catholic West and the Orthodox, Greek East. The vernacular languages in the West, the languages of modern-day western Europe, developed for centuries as spoken languages only: most people did not write, and it seems that it very seldom occurred to those who wrote to write in any language other than Latin, even when they spoke French or Italian or English or another vernacular in their daily life. Very gradually, in the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, it became more and more common to write in the Western vernaculars.

 

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 Milton wrote many poems in Latin, or that Francis Bacon or Baruch Spinoza wrote mostly in Latin. The use of Latin as a lingua franca continued in smaller European lands until the 20th century.

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 Italy. It may also refer to literature written by Italians or in Italy in other languages spoken in Italy, often languages that are closely related to modern Italian.

Dante

 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 La Vita Nuova ("new life" in English, so called to indicate that his first meeting with Beatrice was the beginning of a new life), in which he idealizes love. It is a collection of poems to which Dante added narration and explication. Everything is supersensual, aerial, heavenly, and the real Beatrice is supplanted by an idealized vision of her, losing her human nature and becoming a representation of the divine. Dante is the main character of the work, and the narration purports to be autobiographical, though historical information about Dante's life proves this to be poetic license.

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 Paradise, is a symbol of mankind aiming at the double object of temporal and eternal happiness. The forest in which the poet loses himself symbolizes the civil and religious confusion of society, deprived of its two guides, the emperor and the pope. The mountain illuminated by the sun is universal monarchy. The three beasts are the three vices and the three powers which offered the greatest obstacles to Dante's designs: envy is Florence, light, fickle and divided by the Black Guelphs and the White Guelphs; pride is the house of France; avarice is the papal court. Virgil represents reason and the empire. Beatrice is the symbol of the supernatural aid without which man cannot attain the supreme end, which is God.

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.

 

Petrarch

Main article: Petrarch

 

Statue outside the Uffizi, Florence

 

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 Avignon, cursing the corruption of the papal court; he travelled through nearly the whole of Europe; he corresponded with emperors and popes, and he was considered the most important writer of his time.

 

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 Italy, which in his mind is reunited with Rome, the great city of his heroes Cicero and Scipio.

 

Boccaccio

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 Florence to escape from the plague in 1348. Novel-writing, so abundant in the preceding centuries, especially in France, now for the first time assumed an artistic shape. The style of Boccaccio tends to the imitation of Latin, but in him prose first took the form of elaborated art. The rudeness of the old fabliaux gives place to the careful and conscientious work of a mind that has a feeling for what is beautiful, that has studied the classic authors, and that strives to imitate them as much as possible. Over and above this, in the Decamerone, Boccaccio is a delineator of character and an observer of passions. In this lies his novelty. Much has been written about the sources of the novels of the Decamerone. Probably Boccaccio made use both of written and of oral sources. Popular tradition must have furnished him with the materials of many stories, as, for example, that of Griselda.

 

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 Florence.

 

4 Spanish Literature

This article refers to the Spanish language literature of Spain. It includes Spanish poetry, prose and novels. For Spanish American literature specifically, see Latin American literature.

 

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 Roman Empire and, both in morphology and syntax, it represents an organic transformation of Latin without the direct intervention of any foreign tongue. The sounds, grammatical forms, and syntactical types, with a few exceptions, are derived from Latin, but the vocabulary has absorbed a number of Germanic and Arabic words, and a few have Celtic or Iberian origin. Before the close of the Middle Ages the language threatened to become almost as abbreviated as French, but learned writers, in their passion for antiquity, re-approximated the vocabulary to Latin. The Renaissance commenced a separation between literary men and the people, between the written and spoken tongue, which with some exceptions lasted until the beginning of the 19th century. Then the Romanticists went back to tradition and drew on the poetry and every day speech of the people, and, thanks to the writings of such men as Almeida Garrett and Camilo Castelo Branco, the literary language became national once again.

6 French Literature

French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak other traditional non-French languages. Literature written by citizens of other nations such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, etc. is referred to as Francophone literature.

7 Germanic Literature

German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language.

 

This includes literature written in Germany itself as well as German-language Swiss and Austrian literature, and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora.

 

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 literature from Britain written in English, some notable works listed. For literature from specific English-speaking regions, consult the see also section, bottom of the page.

9 Russian Literature

Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia or its émigrés, and to the Russian-language literature of several independent nations once a part of what was historically Russia or the Soviet Union. Prior to the nineteenth century, the seeds of the Russian literary tradition were sown by the poets, playwrights and writers as Derzhavin, Fonvizin, Sumarokov, Trediakovsky, Karamzin and Krylov. From around the 1830s Russian literature underwent an astounding golden age, beginning with the poet and novelist Aleksandr Pushkin and culminating in two of the greatest novelists in world literature, Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the short story writer and playwright Anton Chekhov. In the Twentieth Century leading figures of Russian literature included internationally recognised poets such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, Boris Pasternak, Anna Akhmatova and Joseph Brodsky, and prose writers Maxim Gorky, Vladimir Nabokov, Mikhail Sholokhov, Mikhail Bulgakov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

10 Scandinavian Literature (Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark)

Scandinavia literature or Nordic literature is the literature in the languages of the Nordic countries of Northern Europe. The Nordic countries include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway (including Svalbard), Sweden and associated autonomous territories (Åland, Faroe Islands and Greenland).The majority of these nations and regions use North Germanic languages. Although Finland speaks Finnic languages, Finnish history and literature are clearly interrelated with those of both Sweden and Norway who have shared control of various areas and who have substantial Sami populations/influences.

 

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 Europe, with plays like The Wild Duck and A Doll's House. Nobel prizes for literature have been awarded to Selma Lagerlöf, Verner von Heidenstam, Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan, Knut Hamsun, Sigrid Undset, Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Frans Eemil Sillanpää, Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, Pär Lagerkvist, Halldór Laxness, Nelly Sachs, Eyvind Johnson, and Harry Martinson.

11 Dutch, Flemish and Frisian literature

Similar to other literary traditions Dutch literature is not restricted to the Netherlands alone. Dutch-language authors do not necessarily have to be from the Netherlands, as Dutch literature is or was also produced in other Dutch-speaking regions, such as Belgium, Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles, French Flanders, South Africa and the former Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia). In its earliest stages, Dutch literature is defined as those pieces of literary merit written in one of the Dutch dialects of the Low Countries. Before the seventeenth century, there was no unified standard language; the dialects that are considered Dutch evolved from Old Frankish around the 5th century.

12 Slavic and East-European literature (Poland, Czechia and Hungaria)

Polish literature is the literary tradition of Poland. Most Polish literature has been written in the Polish language, though other languages used in Poland over the centuries (including Yiddish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, German and Esperanto, as well as Latin, a major language of Polish literature until the early 18th century) have also contributed to Polish literary traditions.

Czech literature is the literature of the historical regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and the Czech-speaking part of Silesia, (now part of the Czech Republic, formerly of Czechoslovakia). This most often means literature written by Czechs, in the Czech language, although Old Church Slavonic, Latin, and German were also used, mostly in the early periods. Modern authors from the Czech territory who wrote in other languages (e.g. German) are generally considered separately, and their writing usually existed in parallel with Czech-language literature and did not interact with it. Thus Franz Kafka, for example, who wrote in German (though he also knew Czech rather well), falls within Austrian literature, though he lived his entire life in Bohemia.

 

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, Hungary's literature gained renown by the end of the 20th century thanks to a new wave of internationally accessible writers like Antal Szerb, Sándor Márai, Imre Kertész and Magda Szabó.

2. Religion.

Religion in Europe has been a major influence on art, culture, philosophy and law. The largest religion in Europe for at least a millennium and a half has been Christianity. A number of countries in Southeastern Europe have Muslim majorities. Smaller religions include Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism which are found in their largest groups in Britain and France.

 

Little is known about the prehistoric religion of Neolithic Europe. Bronze and Iron Age religion in Europe as elsewhere was predominantly polytheistic (Ancient Greek religion, Ancient Roman religion, Celtic polytheism, Germanic paganism etc.). The Roman Empire officially adopted Christianity in AD 380. During the Early Middle Ages, most of Europe underwent Christianization, a process essentially complete with the Christianization of Scandinavia in the High Middle Ages. The emergence of the notion of "Europe" or "Western World" is intimately connected with the idea of "Christendom", especially since Christianity in the Middle East was marginalized by the rise of Islam from the 8th century, a constellation that led to the Crusades, which although unsuccessful militarily were an important step in the emergence of a religious identity of Europe. At all times, traditions of folk religion existed largely independent from official denomination or dogmatic theology.

 

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 Europe.

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 Americas.

 

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 Europe, wherever there were people, leaving signs such as carvings, decorated artifacts and huge standing stones. However a consistent pattern of artistic development within Europe becomes clear only with the art of Ancient Greece, adopted and transformed by Rome and carried; with the Empire, across much of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

 

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,[1] 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.

Egypt, Greece, Rome, Early Christian

 

The art of Ancient Egypt represented the dominant high culture in the Mediterranean and exerted a strong influence on Minoan art. Egypt was a civilization with very strong traditions of architecture and sculpture (both originally painted in bright colours) also had many mural paintings in temples and buildings, and painted illustrations on papyrus manuscripts. Egyptian wall painting and decorative painting is often graphic, sometimes more symbolic than realistic. Artists as contemporary as Pablo Picasso have been directly inspired by Egyptian painting and sculpture. Egyptian painting depicts figures in bold outline and flat silhouette, in which symmetry is a constant characteristic. Egyptian painting has close connection with its written language - called Egyptian hieroglyphs. The Egyptians also painted on linen, remnants of which survive today. In fact painted symbols are found amongst the first forms of written language, and religion. However it is Ancient Egypt's mysterious and compelling architecture that has had the most impact on modern art historians. The Great Pyramids, the Great Sphinx of Giza, and the smaller pyramids and tombs of Ancient Egypt are among the Seven Wonders of the World.

 

To the north of Egypt was the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete. The wall paintings found in the palace of Knossos are similar to those of the Egyptians but much more free in style. Around 1100 B.C., tribes from the north of Greece conquered Greece and the Greek art took a new direction.

Ancient Greece had great painters, great sculptors, and great architects. The Parthenon is an example of their architecture that has lasted to modern days. Greek marble sculpture is often described as the highest form of Classical art. Painting on the pottery of Ancient Greece and ceramics gives a particularly informative glimpse into the way society in Ancient Greece functioned. Black-figure vase painting and Red-figure vase painting gives many surviving examples of what Greek painting was. Some famous Greek painters on wooden panels who are mentioned in texts are Apelles, Zeuxis and Parrhasius, however no examples of Ancient Greek panel painting survive, only written descriptions by their contemporaries or by later Romans. Zeuxis lived in 5-6 BC and was said to be the first to use sfumato. According to Pliny the Elder, the realism of his paintings was such that birds tried to eat the painted grapes. Apelles is described as the greatest painter of Antiquity for perfect technique in drawing, brilliant color and modeling.

Roman art was influenced by Greece and can in part be taken as a descendant of ancient Greek painting and sculpture, but was also strongly influenced by the more local Etruscan art of Italy. Roman sculpture, is primarily portraiture derived from the upper classes of society as well as depictions of the gods. However, Roman painting does have important unique characteristics. Among surviving Roman paintings are wall paintings, many from villas in Campania, in Southern Italy, especially at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Such painting can be grouped into 4 main "styles" or periods[2] and may contain the first examples of trompe-l'oeil, pseudo-perspective, and pure landscape.[3]

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 cemetery of Al-Fayum. They give an idea of the quality that the finest ancient work must have had. A very small number of miniatures from Late Antique illustrated books also survive, and a rather larger number of copies of them from the Early Medieval period. Early Christian art grew out of Roman popular, and later Imperial, art and adapted its iconography from these sources.

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 Rome. But realism was not the primary concern of Medieval artists. They were simply trying to send a religious message, a task which demands clear iconic images instead of precisely rendered ones.

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 Constantinople. Byzantine art's crowning achievement were the monumental frescos and mosaics inside domed churches, most of which have not survived due to natural disasters and the appropriation of churches to mosques.

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 England after the Insular period. Illuminated manuscripts contain nearly all the surviving painting of the period, but architecture, metalwork and small carved work in wood or ivory were also important media.

Romanesque

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.

Gothic

 

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 France in 1144 with the renovation of the Abbey Church of S. Denis and spread throughout Europe, by the 13th century it had become the international style, replacing Romanesque. International Gothic describes Gothic art from about 1360 to 1430, after which Gothic art merges into Renaissance art at different times in different places. During this period forms such as painting, in fresco and on panel, become newly important, and the end of the period includes new media such as prints.

 

Renaissance art

 

The Renaissance is characterized by a focus on the arts of Ancient Greece and Rome, which led to many changes in both the technical aspects of painting and sculpture, as well as to their subject matter. It began in Italy, a country rich in Roman heritage as well as material prosperity to fund artists. During the Renaissance, painters began to enhance the realism of their work by using new techniques in perspective, thus representing three dimensions more authentically. Artists also began to use new techniques in the manipulation of light and darkness, such as the tone contrast evident in many of Titian's portraits and the development of sfumato and chiaroscuro by Leonardo da Vinci. Sculptors, too, began to rediscover many ancient techniques such as contrapposto. Following with the humanist spirit of the age, art became more secular in subject matter, depicting ancient mythology in addition to Christian themes. This genre of art is often referred to as Renaissance Classicism. In the North, the most important Renaissance innovation was the widespread use of oil paints, which allowed for greater colour and intensity.

 

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 Chapel, Padua, is seen as the beginnings of a Renaissance style.

 

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.

 

In the Netherlands, the technique of painting in oils rather than tempera, led itself to a form of elaboration that was not dependent upon the application of gold leaf and embossing, but upon the minute depiction of the natural world. The art of painting textures with great realism evolved at this time. Dutch painters such as Jan van Eyck and Hugo van der Goes were to have great influence on Late Gothic and Early Renaissance painting.

 

Early Renaissance

 

The ideas of the Renaissance first emerged in the city-state of Florence. The sculptor Donatello returned to classical techniques such as contrapposto and classical subjects like the unsupported nude — his second sculpture of David was the first free-standing bronze nude created in Europe since the Roman Empire. The sculptor and architect Brunelleschi studied the architectural ideas of ancient Roman buildings for inspiration. Masaccio perfected elements like composition, individual expression, and human form to paint frescoes, especially those in the Brancacci Chapel, of surprising elegance, drama, and emotion.

 

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

 

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 Germany at the end of the 15th century, and dominated German Renaissance art.

 

Time Period:

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.

 

Time Period:

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.[4]

 

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.[4]

 

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 French Academy, and collectively are called Academic art. Adolphe William Bouguereau is considered a chief example of this stream of art.

 

In the early 19th century the face of Europe, however, became radically altered by industrialization. Poverty, squalor, and desperation were to be the fate of the new working class created by the "revolution." In response to these changes going on in society, the movement of Realism emerged. Realism sought to accurately portray the conditions and hardships of the poor in the hopes of changing society. In contrast with Romanticism, which was essentially optimistic about mankind, Realism offered a stark vision of poverty and despair. Similarly, while Romanticism glorified nature, Realism portrayed life in the depths of an urban wasteland. Like Romanticism, Realism was a literary as well as an artistic movement. The great Realist painters include Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin, Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet, Camille Corot, Honoré Daumier, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas (both considered as Impressionists), and Thomas Eakins, among others.

 

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.

 

Time Period:

Neoclassicism — 18th century to 19th century

Romanticism — Late 18th century to 19th century

Realism — 19th century

 

 

Modern art

 

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:

Abstract expressionism

Art Deco

Art Nouveau

Bauhaus

Color Field painting

Conceptual Art

Constructivism

Cubism

Dada

Der Blaue Reiter

De Stijl

Die Brücke

Expressionism

Fauvism

Futurism

Surrealism

Lettrisme

Lyrical Abstraction

Minimalism

Naive art

Op art

Performance art

Photorealism

Pop art

Suprematism

Video art

 

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).[5] 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.