Paintings have always been the way for us to display our thoughts, imagination, and even beautiful scenes that have been burned into our memory.
But have you ever wondered, what kind of path this ancient way of art had to take to get to where it is today?
It had to endure various movements, revolutions, and changes in the popular beliefs of the general art community.
But still, it survived and still is one of the most popular forms of art to this day.
However, the story of the history of paintings is interesting and mesmerizing to hear. Here’s why:
How Was Painting Invented?
Painting initially emerged in prehistoric times, when nomadic people would use it to make symbols on the rocky walls of caves and mountains.
Most of the time the materials used in these paintings were mostly charcoal as it left gray marks on the walls.
The earliest signs of paintings were found in Spanish Caves which date to more than 42,000 years ago.
Who made the first painting?
Paintings of the olden times are believed to be made by primitive people, mostly cave dwellers or Neanderthals in the prehistoric era.
These people would sculpt and paint on the walls, making symbols that were used to represent the language of those times, and this is how they would communicate with each other.
However, some researchers believe that Neanderthals predated most of the earliest paintings that were found and are under speculation if it was the Homo-Sapiens who actually painted those paintings.
Therefore, the question “Who invented painting?” is considered very vague as we can never narrow it down to a singular person.
However, it is considered that the earliest cave paintings that we can find are from the African subcontinent.
How Did Early Humans Begin Painting?
It is believed that our early African ancestors began painting to communicate among themselves and leave a sign for future generations.
Due to these enhancements in humans, it is said that this ability was the greatest innovation among humans and not tools and weapons.
The first humans would blast charcoal dust onto their own hands that were placed on the cave walls using tubes made out of wood.
This created a revelation among the early humans and ignited the cognitive abilities of painting among them, due to which they began to paint even more complicated variations of animals and human activities.
Among these paintings, the most common was the painting of huge animals like mammoths and bison, or activities like farming and hunting of these animals.
Cave paintings like these, found in France and Spain, are the main evidence of human involvement and the path they were following to becoming more civilized.
As time went by, early humans discovered better methods to leave symbols on the walls.
They started using pigments of various flowers to incorporate color into their painting and even started using straws to paint these cave paintings.
This was the first paintbrush that was used in the history of painting.
Crediting these gradual advancements in art technology, humans developed the ability to make more detailed and better-quality paintings.
In Eastern countries, apart from the wall paintings, humans had started to paint on big leaves so they could be carried around and shown to others.
This worked as the first canvas used by humans in the history of painting.
Paintings in the Middle Ages
Following the birth and evolution of painting in the ancient age came the medieval age, where paintings as art started to take a more distinct shape.
It also witnessed the uprisings of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian religions among humans.
This gave rise to paintings that were mostly religious in nature and appeased the various gods that the artists would follow.
There was an abundance of paintings of Jesus Christ, realistic genres, and paintings of still life that were starting to find a place in every household.
But apart from the religious paintings, there was an explosion of famous landscape paintings that beautifully depicted the reality of the vast and serene landscapes all across the world.
Fan Kuan in the east and Jacob Van Ruisdael in the west started to make a name for their landscape with exceptional beauty and detail.
This started to attract more and more people to paintings, either to paint them or to mesmerize viewers all over the world.
Now that the world was ruled by kings and queens, the demand for paintings started to increase as they wanted paintings to increase the beauty of their palaces.
Conquerors wanted the paintings to depict their hard-fought battles, governors wanted them to depict their well-governed cities.
This created a new fashion among people to commission paintings according to their own tastes, which created a new boom in the painting industry.
Paintings From the Renaissance
Painting was at its most popular stage ever in history as the globe entered the Renaissance era.
Apart from its use as something to ponder over, paintings were now also being used as currency in the world.
Many famous painters like Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Rafael were household names as their paintings had achieved celebrity status.
Their words now held great weight in every political situation as their paintings held the power to sway the minds of people.
These paintings that had a deeper meaning to them had started to attract viewers from all over the world.
This was considered to be the best time in the history of painting as an art although other arts like sculpting were also gaining popularity.
Many famous paintings like the Mona Lisa, Creation Of Adam, and The Last Supper were credited to the Renaissance era.
This created a sense of great accomplishment among these painters and received a great deal of recognition.
(You can also read: Paintings by Leonardo da Vinci)
Evolution of Painting into Rococo and Baroque
As the world progressed into the next stages of human evolution, so did art and so did painting.
Coming from an all-time high, painters, as well as paintings, had gained center stage in political as well as social communities all over the world.
With this rise in popularity came the rise of various movements like the Baroque cultural movement and the Rococo movement.
In the beginning, the paintings of the Baroque period were stylized with great drama, deep color, and intense light and dark shadows.
For the first time in the history of paintings, they were meant to evoke emotion out of the viewer, which was in stark contrast to the peaceful and serene paintings from the Renaissance.
Among some of the greatest Baroque period artists, the most famous were Carravaggio, Reubens, and Poussin.
In Italy, especially the Baroque style was epitomized by religion and mythology, often getting displayed on the roof of churches. Whereas in the Dutch art community, easel painting of everyday subjects became more popular.
The mood and emotions of the subjects were rather muted in the Rococo movement of art, which represented a revolutionary period in the history of paintings.
It first took shape in France, where commissions from the court of the king of France were the most common outlook for art and paintings in general.
Similar to Baroque, Rocco still possessed complex forms and intricate patterns but also had new concepts of asymmetry and oriental designs.
Many French masters of painting, like Watteau, Boucher, and Fragonard, were the greatest advocates of this movement.
Slowly, yet surely painting as art had almost reached its final stages of evolution and had taken one of the biggest stages in the history of the world, where it had begun from just a print of charcoal on the cave walls.
Now, it had found home on big roofs of cathedrals and on famous canvases which were attached to Easels.
20th-Century And Modern Paintings
The 19th century rolled up in the art world, and the hype around painting as a household item started to die as media and technology started to take over the world.
But, it wasn’t completely dead yet and still had a pretty strong hold on the political and social community in the Western world.
The 20th century itself was filled with turmoil, wars, and social unrest all around.
Amidst all of this, for the first time in the history of painting as an art, multiple movements were taking place, and painters were able to choose their own genre of painting.
One of the biggest art movements that revolutionized the art of painting was called “abstraction of art.”
In this movement, painters were able to move away from the long-going tradition of portraying realism.
The painting had found a way to deliver messages which were deeper than what they were able to before.
This same movement took part in various ways under various different names in multiple countries.
The movement’s evolution led to what we know today as modern art and paintings.
From painting with a wooden tube to the fine bristled brushes of today.
From the walls of caves to gigantic murals on walls and canvases on easels.
Paintings have evolved from just a means of communication in prehistoric times to sending socio-political messages through the artworks of famous artists.
Today, they hang on the walls of many famous galleries and are sold for millions of dollars, making them one of the most expensive artworks ever made.
However, we believe that if there is a famous painting that really hits you in the heart, you should possess it.
Are you worried about how you are going to obtain it?
No worries, our professional artists will recreate any artwork that strikes a chord with you and ensure that it also improves the decor of your house.
Read more: Japanese Erotic Art: Shunga Paintings That Bestow Luck.
Hello Art Enthusiasts,
Thank you for reading this blog post about the history of painting all the way to the end.
If you feel like we missed something, feel free to use the comment section below.
Also, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Instagram, where we post cool new content daily!
If you are still hungry for some art knowledge, then check out our blog page!
Frequently Asked Questions
Ancient people used to make fluid-like substances from their saliva and animal fat to create textures and hues to make cave paintings.
The first painting was created and discovered in Indonesia.
Spray-Painted Graffiti is the world’s oldest known art form.
The oldest painting was discovered in the caves of Maros, Indonesia, some 40,000 years ago.
‘Guo Hua’ was a painting technique used by Chinese painters in the modern era.
The famous wood print style of Japan in the 4th century is called Ukiyo-e,
Daoist painting, Buddhist painting, Confucian painting, and Decorative painting were the four well-known genres.
They were discovered in the rock shelters of Bhimbetka.
According to archives, the oldest known figurative artwork was discovered around 40,000 years ago.
The oldest known paintings of Western art are housed in France’s Grotte Chauvet.