Gothic Art is the style of art produced in Europe from the middle ages up to the beginning of the Renaissance. Typically religious in nature, it is especially known for the distinctive arched design of its churches, its stained glass, and its illuminated manuscripts. In the late 14th century, anticipating the Renaissance, Gothic Art evolved towards a more secular style known as International Gothic. One of the best-known artists of this period is Simone Martini. Although superseded by Renaissance art, there was a Gothic Revival in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was largely rooted in nostalgia.
The Early Renaissance - Centered in Italy, 15th Century
The Renaissance was a period or great creative activity, in which artists broke away from the restrictions of Byzantine Art. Throughout the 15th century, artists studied the natural world, perfecting their understanding of such subjects as anatomy and perspective. Among the many great artists of this period were Sandro Botticelli and Piero della Francesca. During this period there was a parallel advancement of Gothic Art centered in Germany and the Netherlands, known as the Northern Renaissance. The Early Renaissance was succeeded by the mature High Renaissance period, which began around 1500.
Sandro Botticelli - 15th Century Italian Renaissance - Botticelli is best known for his allegorical paintings of religious figures (especially Madonnas) and mythological characters. The Birth of Venus (c. 1483)
Donatello - Early Renaissance, Florentine School - Donatello was trained as a sculptor by Ghiberti, but used his own vision to create figures that were the most lifelike seen since Antiquity. St. George (c. 1415) David (1444-46)Equestrian monument to Gattamelata (1447-53) Saint Mary Magdelene (c. 1457)
Masaccio – Renaissance - Masaccio is best known for rendering humans with accurate human proportions, a technique which was lost during the Middle Ages. The best example of this can be seen in his painting Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1427)
The High Renaissance - Centered in Italy, Early 16th Century
The High Renaissance was the culmination of the artistic revolution of the Early Renaissance, and one of the great explosions of creative genius in history. It is notable for three of the greatest artists in history: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Raphael. Also active at this time were such masters as Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione and Titian. By about the 1520's, High Renaissance art had become exaggerated into the style known as Mannerism.
Michelangelo Buonarroti - High to Late Italian Renaissance - His sculpture came to the attention of the most powerful family in Florence, the Medici, and he gained their patronage. Michelangelo's output was, quite simply, stunning, in quality, quantity and scale. His most famous statues include the 18-foot David (1501-1504) and the Pietà (1499), but his sculpture encompassed many other pieces including elaborately decorated tombs. He did not consider himself a painter, and (justifiably) complained throughout four straight years of the work, but created one of the greatest masterpieces of all time on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512). Additionally, he painted The Last Judgement (1534-1541) on the altar wall of the same chapel many years later. As an old man, he was tapped by the Pope to complete the half-finished St. Peter's Church in the Vatican.
Leonardo da Vinci - High Italian Renaissance - How to make this brief? Leonardo spent about twenty years (1480s - 1499) in the service of Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan (who frequently neglected to pay Leonardo). His output during this period included two of his best known paintings: The Madonna of the Rocks (1483-85) and the mural The Last Supper (1495-98). When Milan was seized by French troops in 1499, Leonardo returned to Florence. It was here that he painted one of the most famous portraits of all time, The Mona Lisa, more correctly known as La Gioconda (1503-06).
Titian - Italian High Renaissance - Titian was acknowledged as the master painter in Venice during the period we now call the High Renaissance. His work is characterized by the use pure colors and for idealizing and beautifying nature and humans. He was much sought after, in his later years, to paint "Venus" figures for wealthy patrons. He was an inspiration to - and influence of - many artists who came after him. Sacred and Profane Love (c. 1515)The Assumption of the Virgin (1516-1518) Bacchanal of the Andrians (1520)Pope Paul III and His Grandsons (1546)Rape of Europa (1559-62).
Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio) - He, along with Leonardo and Michelangelo, is considered one of the three Great Names of the High Renaissance in Italy. His work is characterized by perfect use of color, balance of composition, and sweetness in the subjects of his paintings. His early death brought about what came to be acknowledged as the end of the Italian Renaissance. Madonna of the Meadows (1505) The School of Athens (1511)The Sistine Madonna (1512-14)Galatea (c.1513)Pope Leo X with Cardinals (c.1517)
The Northern Renaissance - Centered in Germany and the Netherlands, 15th-16th Centuries
The northern European tradition of Gothic Art was greatly affected by the technical and philosophical advancements of the Renaissance in Italy. While less concerned with studies of anatomy and linear perspective, northern artists were masters of technique, and their works are marvels of exquisite detail.
The great artists who inspired the Northern Renaissance included Robert Campin, Jan van Eyck (and his brother Hubert, about whom little is known). As Italy moved into the High Renaissance, the north retained a distinct Gothic influence. Yet masters like Dürer, Bosch, Bruegel and Holbein were the equal of the greatest artists of the south. In the mid-16th century, as in the south, the Northern Renaissance eventually gave way to a highly stylized Mannerism.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Northern Renaissance - Though he was sometimes called "Peasant" Bruegel, due to the common folk with which he populated his genre paintings, Bruegel himself was a sophisticated city-dweller who had traveled to Italy. His seemingly simple scenes of everyday life are full of commentary on the religious controversies of his time. Children's Games (1560) The Hunters in the Snow (1565) The Harvesters (1565) The Peasant Wedding (c. 1568) The Blind Leading the Blind (1568)
Jan van Eyck - Northern Renaissance - was the greatest artist of the early Netherlands school. He held high positions throughout his career, including court painter and diplomat in Bruges. Van Eyck exploited the qualities of oil as never before, building up layers of transparent glazes, thus giving him a surface on which to capture objects in the minutest detail and allowing for the preservation of his colors. Nowhere is this better displayed than in his portraitof Giovanni di Arrigo Arnolfini, a merchant from Lucca and a frequent visitor to Bruges, and his wife Giovanna Cenami. The signature on the back wall - 'Jan Van Eyck was here, 1434' - and his reflection in the mirror has led many to believe that he was a witness to their marriage.
Mannerism – Europe 16th century
Contemporary with the crisis of religious ideas, Mannerism appears during the 16th century (the Reform begins in 1517).Without opposing classical Renaissance, Mannerism breaks apart from the formal principles established during this period. Michelangelo, with his tormented figures, seems to have shown the road. Symmetry disappears in favor of diagonal compositions; balance and measure give room to movement and expression. The games played by light and shadow become as dramatic as the faces. Mannerism doesn't only produce brilliant and rebel artists, it also produces schools which imitate it. It is only a transition movement. The architect who best illustrates Mannerism is Vignola, while Cellini is the most representative sculptor. Painting is represented by the German Hans Holbeinand the school of Venice.
Baroque Art– Europe 1600 - 1750
Baroque Art emerged in Europe around 1600 - 1750, as a reaction against the intricate and formulaic Mannerist style which dominated the Late Renaissance. Baroque Art is less complex, more realistic and more emotionally affecting than Mannerism. This movement was encouraged by the Catholic Church, the most important patron of the arts at that time, as a return to tradition and spirituality. One of the great periods of art history, Baroque Art was developed by Bernini, and others. This was also the age of Rubens, Rembrandt, Velázquez, and Vermeer. In the 18th century, Baroque Art was replaced by the more elegant and elaborate Rococo style.
Rembrandt - Dutch Baroque - Rembrandt, the master painter, is such a giant figure in the world of art we almost never use his last name. His works are notable for their singular brushwork, incomparable use of color and mastery of light and shadow. Rembrandt also changed the way people viewed other people, by portraying religious figures as human, and humans as soulful and poetic. Though his life was marked time and again by tragedy and trouble, his art grew ever more light and soaring. Portraits, such as his Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulip (1632), brought Rembrandt fame and riches. (This isn't surprising; one of the few things that the Protestant Dutch didn't condemn as idolatry was portraiture, and they had plenty of money with which to have themselves painted.) He also painted religious scenes (though it really wasn't "done" in that place in those times), as seen in Angel Leaving Tobit and Tobias (1637) and experimented with landscapes. Things went badly in 1642. His wife, Saskia, died after loosing three of their four children in infancy. On top of personal tragedy, his career took a disastrous turn when the subjects of his group portrait The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch (commonly known as The Night Watch) were incensed by his seemingly random placement of their faces in dim light.
Peter Paul Rubens - Flemish Baroque - More importantly for the history of art, he managed to synthesize a number of factors - from the masters of the Renaissance and the early Baroque - and create the first truly "European" style of painting. The more well-known works he turned out during the next thirty years include The Elevation of the Cross (1610), The Lion Hunt (1617-18), and Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (1617). His court portraits were in great demand, as he frequently placed their subjects in juxtaposition with gods and goddesses of mythology to better acknowledge the lofty positions of nobility and royalty.
Rococo Art - Europe, 1715 to 1774
The Rococo style succeeded Baroque Art in Europe. It was centered in France, and is generally associated with the reign of King Louis XV (1715-1774). It is a light, elaborate and decorative style of art. Rococo was eventually replaced by Neoclassicism, which was the popular style of the American and French revolutions.
Neoclassical Art - Mid-18th Century to Early-19th Century
Neoclassical Art is a severe, unemotional form of art harkening back to the style of ancient Greece and Rome. Its rigidity was a reaction to the over bred Rococo style and the emotional Baroque style. The rise of Neoclassical Art was part of a general revival of classical thought, which was of some importance in the American and French revolutions. Important Neoclassicists include the architect painters Anton Raphael Mengs, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and Jacques-Louis David. Around 1800, Romanticism emerged as a reaction to Neoclassicism. It did not really replace the Neoclassical style so much as act as a counterbalancing influence, and many artists were influenced by both styles to some degree.
Jacques-Louis David – Neo-classicism - He was a supporter of the French Revolution and one of the leading figures of Neoclassicism. It was during this period (1775-81) that he abandoned the grand manner of his early work, with its Baroque use of lighting and composition for a stark, highly finished and morally didactic style. This was influenced by the ideas then current in Rome. David’s most famous works include the Oath of the Horatii (Paris, Louvre) one of his few famous paintings not representing a scene of the French revolution and Napoleonic Era, Oath of the Tennis Court, his pieta-like portrayal of the Death of Marat(1793, Brussels, Musée Royaux), Napoleon at Mont St Bernard, and The Crowning of Josephine.
Romanticism - Late 18th Century to Mid 19th Century
Romanticism might best be described as anti-Classicism. A reaction against Neoclassicism, it is a deeply-felt style which is individualistic, beautiful, exotic, and emotionally wrought. Although Romanticism and Neoclassicism were philosophically opposed, they were the dominant European styles for generations, and many artists were affected to a greater or lesser degree by both. Artists might work in both styles at different times or even mix the styles, creating an intellectually Romantic work using a Neoclassical visual style, for example. Great artists closely associated with Romanticism include:
Caspar David Friedrich – Romanticism - Friedrich, besides being a Romantic, was a pioneer of the symbolic landscape. He used trees, mist, mountains and the light of sunset (in particular) to symbolize Christian religious themes in a sort of mysterious mood. Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (c. 1818) Chalk Cliffs on Rügen (1818-19) The Tree of Crows (1822) Large Enclosure (c. 1832)
Francisco de Goya - Rococo > Romantic - The barely veiled social commentary he rendered in his later works served as a precursor of the Realism movement. Charles IV and His Family (1800) Nude Maja and Clothed Maja (1804) Disasters of War (series, included The Third of May 1808) (1810-1814) Saturn Devouring One of His Sons (1820-22)
Eugene Delacroix (1798 – 1863) – Romanticism – Delacroix was one of the last great Romantics and along with Gericault and David one of the great Romantic painters. His most recognizable work is Liberty Leading the People (1830).
Realism - Mid-19th Century
Realism is an approach to art in which subjects are portrayed in as straightforward manner as possible, without idealizing them and without following the rules of formal theory. The earliest Realist work began to appear in the 18th century, as a reaction against the excesses of Romanticism and Neoclassicism. This is evident in some of the works of Goya. But the great Realist era was the mid-19th century, as artists became disillusioned with the Salon system and the influence of the Academies. Realism came closest to being an organized movement in France.
Edgar Degas - Realism > Impressionism - He is also known for his clever use of empty space in composition. We know him best for his images of dancers. The Dance Class (1874) Glass of Absinthe (1876) Little Ballet Dancer (1880-81) The Morning Bath (1890)
Impressionism - Centered in France, 1860's to 1880's
Impressionism is a light, spontaneous manner of painting which began in France as a reaction against the formalism of the dominant Academic style. Its naturalistic and down-to-earth treatment of its subjects has its roots in the French Realism. The movement's name came from Monet's early work, Impression: Sunrise, which was singled out for criticism by Louis Leroy on its exhibition. The hallmark of the style is the attempt to capture the subjective impression of light in a scene. The core of the earliest Impressionist group was made up of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Others associated with this period were Edgar Degas, Frederic Bazille, Edouard Manet, and Mary Cassatt. The Impressionist style is still widely practiced today. However, a variety of successive movements were influenced by it, grouped under the general term Post-Impressionism.
Mary Cassatt – Impressionism - Mary Cassatt, best known and loved for her tender portrayals of mothers with children, was not a mother herself. Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1878) Mother About to Wash Her Sleepy Child (1880) Girl Arranging Her Hair (1886) The Letter (1891) The Bath (1892)
Édouard Manet - Realism > Impressionism - He was a founding father of Impressionism and was a crucial part of the famous Salon des Refusés in 1863. Dejeuner sur l'herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) (1863)Olympia (1863)Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882)
Claude Monet – Impressionism - Claude Monet was a founder and leader of the Impressionists (the group took their name from one of his paintings "Impression Sunrise"). Impression Sunrise (1872)Wheatstacks (End of Summer) (1891)The Rouen Cathedral series (1892-1894)Water Lilies (1906)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir – Impressionism - Renoir is best known for his portraits of women, children and groups of happy, casual people. More than the other Impressionists, he was interested in form and used rough brushwork to capture it. Moulin de la Galette (1876) Madame Charpentier and her Children (1878) Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881)The Bathers (1884-87)
Post-Impressionism - France, 1880's to 1900 Post-Impressionism is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of artists who were influenced by Impressionism but took their art in different directions. There is no single well-defined style of Post-Impressionism, but in general it is less casual and more emotionally charged than Impressionist work. The classic Post-Impressionists are Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Henri Rousseau.
Vincent Willem van Gogh - Post-impressionism > Expressionism - During his time with the miners, van Gogh painted the rough, miserable lives of the peasants with which he lived. One of these works, The Potato Eaters (1885), is acknowledged as his early masterpiece. In 1886, Vincent moved to Paris, where his devoted brother, Theo, was an art dealer. He quickly launched himself into study of the Impressionists and Japanese prints and emerged, after two years, with a highly original palette. He relocated himself to Arles, in Provence, where he began a frenzy of painting (sometimes going through a canvas per day) that showed his love for the town, countryside and sunlight of the area. Better known works from his time in Arles include Bedroom at Arles (1888), The Night Café (1888) and Starry Night (1889).
Fauvism - 1898-1908
Fauvism grew out of Pointillism and general Post-Impressionism, but is characterized by a more primitive and less naturalistic style. Paul Gauguin's style and his use of color were especially strong influences. The artists most closely associated with Fauvism are Henri Matisse. Fauvism was a short-lived movement, but had a substantial influence on some of the Expressionists.
Henri Matisse – Fauvism - Matisse, nearly forty by 1905, was the ringleader of the Fauves. His works are characterized by big blocks of bold, vibrant colors and a deceptive simplicity. He and Picasso are probably the two artists who had the greatest influence on the course of 20th century art. Madame Matisse, "The Green Line" (1905)La Joie de Vivre (1905-06)The Dance (1910)The Red Studio (1911) Icarus (1947)
Expressionism – Europe (Germany) 1910 – 1940 Movement in fine arts that emphasized the expression of inner experience rather than solely realistic portrayal, seeking to depict not objective reality but the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in the artist. He accomplishes his aim through distortion, exaggeration, primitivism, and fantasy and through the vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of formal elements. In a broader sense Expressionism is one of the main currents of art in the later 19th and the 20th centuries, and its qualities of highly subjective, personal, spontaneous self-expression are typical of a wide range of modern artists and art movements. Expressionism assessed itself mostly in Germany, in 1910, (München, Dresde, Berlin), The most famed German expressionists are Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Lyonel Feininger, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, August Macke, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein; the Austrian Oskar Kokoschka, the Czech Alfred Kubin and the Norvegian Edvard Munch are also related to this movement.
Edvard Munch - A gifted Norwegian painter and printmaker, Edvard Munch not only was his country's greatest artist, but also played a vital role in the development of German expressionism. His work often included the symbolic portrayal of such themes as misery, sickness, and death. The Scream, probably his most familiar painting, is typical in its anguished expression of isolation and fear.
Cubism - Europe, 1908-1920
Cubism was developed between about 1908 and 1912 in collaboration between Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Their immediate influences are said to be Tribal Art (although Braque later disputed this) and the work of Paul Cezanne. The movement itself was not long-lived or widespread, but it began an immense creative explosion which resonated through all of 20th century art. The key concept of Cubism is that the essence of objects can only be captured by showing it from multiple points of view simultaneously. Cubism had run its course by the end of World War I.
Pablo Picasso - Several, but best known for (co-)inventing Cubism - Before, and shortly after, moving to Paris, Picasso's painting was in its "Blue Period" (1900-1904), which eventually gave way to his "Rose Period" (1905-1906). It wasn't until 1907, though, that Picasso really raised a commotion in the art world. His painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon marked the beginning of Cubism. Having caused such a stir, Picasso spent the next fifteen years seeing what, exactly, could be done with Cubism (such as putting paper and bits of string in a painting, thus inventing the collage). The Three Musicians (1921), pretty much summed up Cubism for Picasso. For the rest of his days, no one style could maintain a hold on Picasso. In fact, he was known to use two or more different styles, side by side, within a single painting. One notable exception is his Surrealistic painting Guernica (1937), arguably one of the greatest pieces of social protest ever created.
Futurism - Italy, 1909-1914
Futurism is an Italian modernist movement celebrating the technological era. It was largely inspired by the development of Cubism. The core themes of Futurist thought and art were machines and motion.
Futurism was founded in 1909 by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The term Futurism caught the imagination of writers and artists throughout the world, as did Marmetti's insistence that the artist turn his back on past art and conventional procedures to concern himself with the vital, noisy life of the burgeoning industrial city. In Italy a group of painters gathered with the poets around Marinetti in 1909 to work out the implications of his manifesto for the visual arts. They published first a general manifesto, "The Manifestos of Futurist Painters," in February 1910, then, in March, the more specific "Futurist Painting: Technical Manifesto."
Surrealism - Europe, 1924 to 1950's
Surrealism is a style in which fantastic visual imagery from the subconscious mind is used with no intention of making the artwork logically comprehensible. Founded by Andre Breton in 1924, it was a primarily European movement which attracted many members of the chaotic Dada movement. It was similar in some respects to the late 19th-century Symbolist movement, but deeply influenced by the psychoanalytic work of Freud and Jung. The Surrealist circle was made up of many of the great artists of the 20th century, including Jean Arp, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, Man Ray, Joan Miro, and Rene Magritte. Salvador Dali, probably the single best-known Surrealist artist, was somewhat of an outsider due to his right-wing politics - during this period leftism was fashionable among Surrealists, in fact in almost all intellectual circles.
Salvador Dalí – Surrealism - In the 1920s, he read Freud, took up with other emerging Surrealists, and began actively seeking his subconscious mind so as to paint the visions there. The results of his (self-induced) hallucinogenic states are highly realistic paintings of a bizarre dream world. The Persistence of Memory (1931) Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (1936).
Max Ernst – Surrealism - The German painter-poet Max Ernst was a member of the dada movement and a founder of surrealism. A self-taught artist, he formed a Dada group in Cologne, Germany, with other avant-garde artists. He pioneered a method called frottage, in which a sheet of paper is placed on the surface of an object and then penciled over until the texture of the surface is transferred. In 1925, he showed his work at the first surrealist painting exhibition in Paris.