The World of Painting, The Painters, and their Famous Paintings

Whether we realize it or not, art has an essential role in our life. Art is a tool to express emotions, creativity, one’s self, or mastery. One of the most popular forms of art is painting. Painting plays a vital role in our society even back in the times of pre-historic humans. It is a visual art that brings various elements together. Such as drawing, narration, composition, and gesture. Paintings can be naturalistic and representational, abstract, narrative, symbolism, or emotive. It is the practice of applying color and pigment or another medium to a support base like canvas or paper. The medium is commonly into brushes, sponges, or other implements.

History of Painting

The history of paintings in both Eastern and Western are both dominated by religious art. Some examples of it are those biblical scenes, Buddha, and even mythological figures. The term painting means to act and the result of the action; in the world of art. The needed things for painting are canvas, paper, copper walls, wood, glass, pottery, and such.

The oldest known paintings are at the Grotte Chauvet which is in France. Some historians profoundly believe that those are about 32,000 years old. They are created using red and black pigment. For example, the usual animals painted are horses, rhinoceros, lions, buffalo, and mammoth. Abstract designs are also present which is possible to be human figures. However, the earliest discovered kind of painting is in two rock-shelters in Arnhem Land which is in Northern Australia. Archaeologists discovered in its lowest layer some ochre that was estimated to be around 60, 000 years old. They have also found pieces of rock painting preserved in a limestone rock-shelter in the North-Western part of Australia. It is approximately 40,000 years old. It is approximately 40,000 years old.

During the Paleolithic times, the representations of humans in cave paintings were very rare. Most of the time, animals are the ones that are painted and searching for the meaning of the paintings before remains unknown. Arrow-like figures on the paintings are most of the time interpreted as calendars; yet, it remains inclusive.

History of Eastern Painting

The History of Eastern painting has a variety of influences from different cultures and religions. Changes in Eastern painting are different from Western painting.

Chinese Painting

Chinese painting is one of the oldest but has a continuous artistic culture in the world. The earliest kinds of arts are ornamental instead of representational. They consist of designs or patterns rather than the usual pictures. Those potteries have zigzags, dots, spirals, or animals as its design. The earliest surviving samples of Chinese artwork painted were during the period 481-221 BC. They were often in a simple format; designed with mythological creatures, labor scenes, or domestic scenes. Paintings on silk of court officials and local scenes can be found during the Han Dynasty. Oil paintings began in China during the 19th Century becoming widespread among the artists and students.

Artists such as Fengmian, Fang Ganmin, Pang Yuliang, Li Tiefu, Hong Yi, Xu Beihong, and Yan Wenliang; went abroad which is to Paris and Tokyo to know more about Western Art. Because of those artists, artistic movements grew and thrived in China such as Cubism, Impressionism, Fauvism, and Post-impressionism.

Korean Painting

While Korean painting falls around the Gojoseon time which is about 108 B.C that makes it one of the oldest in the world. During the Goryeo Dynasty, Korean paintings were characterized as a combination of style landscapes, Buddhist-centered themes, and facial features. It was not until the Joseon Dynasty that Confucian ideas began to take place in Korean paintings. The history of the paintings in Korea was characterized by using monochromatic works in mulberry paper or silk.

Japanese Painting

The History of Japanese painting encompasses a wide variety of genres and styles; it is also one of the oldest and highly refined Japanese arts. Ukiyo-e or ‘’pictures of the floating world’’ is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints.

History of Western Painting

Western Painting represents a tradition from ancient times until the present time. It was usually about representational and classical modes of production. Western painting later discovered audiences in the aristocracy and the middle class. Baroque era artists earned private commissions from middle-class people. Western painting reached its success in Europe during the Renaissance; it continued from the Baroque Period until to Contemporary art. Ancient Egypt is a civilization with traditions of architecture and sculpture, both painted in bright colors, had a lot of mural paintings in buildings and temples, and painted illustrations on papyrus manuscripts. Egyptian painting if often symbolic than realistic.

Ancient Greece Painting

Ancient Greece painting is outstanding for its visual arts. The paintings on ceramics give a glimpse on how the society functioned before. There are also great Greek artists that worked on wood panels, some of them are: Apelles, Zeuxis, and Parrhasius. Greece made a huge influence on Roman Art. But Roman painting has unique characteristics.

Baroque Painting

Baroque painting is with high drama, deep color, and intense light and dark shadows are its characteristics. The well-known Baroque painters are the Caracci brothers, Agostino, and Annibale. Carivaggio, is one of the greatest painters. His realistic approach to human figures opened a significant chapter in the history of painting.

Baroque is a dominant style of painting that started around 1600 and continuing throughout the 17th century. The most celebrated painters of the Baroque are RubensVelázquezRembrandtFrans HalsJohannes VermeerLe NainJusepe de RiberaPoussinTour, and Claude Lorraine. They focused on landscape painting. Poussin, Claude and La Tour, all French, adopted a “classical” Baroque style with less focus on emotions but greater attention to the outline of the figures in the painting than on colors. Most of those mentioned painters traveled to Italy as a part of their training and would then take the Baroque style back to their homelands.

Here are some of the most popular Painters and their Famous Paintings:

Vincent Willem van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who was among the most influential and famous painters in the history of Western art. In just a decade, he was able to create around 2,100 creations including about 860 oil paintings; most of it took the last two years of his life.

  • He was born on March 30, 1853, in the province of North Brabant in the Southern part of Netherlands. Also the oldest surviving child of Theodorus van Gogh and Anna Cornelia Carbentus. He inherited the name of his grandfather. Born into an upper-middle-class family, Van Gogh grew as a thoughtful child. As a young man, he often travels because he worked as an art dealer. But, after his transfer to London, he became depressed. He turned to religion and became a missionary in the southern part of Belgium. He drifted in ill health and solitude before taking up painting in the year 1881. Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions that affected his mental health.

The Starry Night, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh – is an oil canvas by Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June 1889, it depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room.

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

He was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest include invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, history, music, mathematics, literature, engineering, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, and cartography.

  • He was born on April 15, 1452, in the Tuscan hill town of Vinci, in the lower valley of the Arno River. At the age of 14, he became an apprentice to the artist known as Verrocchi, Andrea di Cione; he apprenticed as a studio boy.  Leonardo as also called the father of Paleontology, ichnology, and architecture; of course, considered as well as one of the greatest painters of all time.  A lot of historians regard him as the prime example of the ‘’Universal Genius’’ or ‘’Renaissance man’’. According to an art historian Helen Gardner, ‘’his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, while the man himself is mysterious and remote.’’

Mona Lisa or ‘’la Gioconda’’ – is a half-length portrait painting, known as ‘’the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world.’’ It is also one of the most valuable paintings in the world. It holds the Guinness World Record for having the highest known insurance valuation in history at $100 million in 1962, which is worth nearly $820 million in 2018.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet, and playwright.

He spent most of his adult life in France. Picasso’s family was of middle-class background; his father was a painter. He showed his passion and skills in drawing at an early age.   He began his training under his father before the year 1890. His works are often categorized in periods.

Guernica – is a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War. This canvas embodies for many, the inhumanity, brutality, and hopelessness of war. Whenever asked for its symbolism, he answers: ‘’it isn’t up to the painter to define the symbols. Otherwise, it would be better if he wrote them out in many words! The public who look at the picture must interpret the symbols as they understand them.’’

Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.

  • He worked slowly with great care and frequently used costly pigments. He was renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work. Johannes painted mostly domestic interior scenes. Vermeer was recognized during his lifetime in Delft and The Hague, but his modest celebrity gave way to obscurity after his death. It was not clear where Vermeer had his apprenticeship and with whom.

Girl with a Pearl Earring – is an oil painting dated c. 1665 It shows a European girl wearing an exotic dress, an oriental turban, and a large pearl earring.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance that was born in the Republic of Florence.

He was born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese. His family had been small-scale bankers in Florence. However, the bank failed, and his father took a government post in Caprese. As a young boy, Michelangelo was sent to Florence to study grammar under the Humanist Francesco da Urbino. But then he showed no interest in schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches .

The Last Judgment – it covers the whole altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. It portrays the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment of God to humanity. The souls of humankind rise and descend to their fate. There are over 300 figures with nearly all males and angels originally shown as nudes; were later partly covered up by painted draperies. It took over four years to complete it.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino widely known as Raphael, he was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. Often praised for its clarity of form and visual achievement are his works. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the great traditional masters during that period.

  • He was a productive man and runs an unusually workshop and, despite his death at the age of 37, leaving a large body of work.
  • A lot of his works are in Vatican Palace.
  • Raphael led a ‘’nomadic’’ life.

Mond Crucifixion – the painting shows Jesus in the cross, which is looking peaceful even though he is dying. It has two angels catching his blood. On Jesus’ left kneels Mary Magdalene with John the Evangelist standing behind her.

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