History Of Painting: Brief Introduction To Western, Eastern, & American Art

History Of Painting: Brief Introduction To Western, Eastern, & American Art

This is an attempt to take you back to the time when artifacts and artworks were created by pre-historic artists. 

The history of painting is a vast subject that consists of various famous art movements, cultures, painting styles, and the origin of the painting.

We’ve covered these aspects as well as others that include interesting facts and stories about Western, Eastern, and American art which shaped the world of art!

Let’s dive in: 

How Was Painting Invented?

History Of Painting: How Was Painting Invented?

The creator of a painting or art has long remained a mystery. 

As people, at that time, didn’t have access to contemporary materials like acrylic or oil paints, the first painting was very certainly done on cave walls using charcoal, minerals, and other materials.

#1 Fact: They would create textures and colors by forming fluid-like substances out of their saliva and animal fat.

What is the Origin of Painting?

History Of Painting: What is the Origin of Painting?

Painting’s beginnings have long been a source of contention!

The first-ever painting was produced and discovered in Indonesia, according to a recent publication by Nature. 

#2 Fact: Spray-Painted Graffiti was discovered to be the oldest known art form.

And it was discovered in a cave that is thought to be older than the paintings that were dubbed the oldest at the time.

Who made the First Painting?

This topic was abandoned by archaeologists and scientists a few years ago.

It’s the toughest thing for them to find the first-ever creator of the earliest painting since there are so few sources of information.

It’s true that the first paintings were made by primitive mankind – Who used art to depict their daily lives. 

#3 Fact: According to records, the first painting was created around 40,000 years ago and was discovered in the caves of Maros, Indonesia.

Now, that you know who made the first painting, let’s explore various art styles and cultures from different regions of the world. 

Brief Introduction To Eastern Art

Eastern art developed in a similar way to Western art.

Several other arts, including African art, Jewish art, Korean art, Japanese art, and others, had a significant effect on Western art.

Eastern art, on the other hand, was influenced by cultural activities, deities, religions, and other factors.

Chinese and Japanese paintings were influential in the development of Eastern art. Indonesian. Besides, Indian painters also put in their significant contributions to Eastern art.

First, let’s know the brief history of painting (Chinese Art).  

Brief History Of Painting (Chinese Art)

Painting in China is considered to be one of the world’s oldest and most consistent creative traditions.

‘Guo Hua’ was a method of painting adopted by Chinese painters during contemporary times.

History Of Painting: ‘Guo Hua’ was a method of painting adopted by Chinese painters

The technique concerned how to include a traditional Chinese touch in the artworks.

Chinese paintings in the past were decorative rather than realistic. That’s why, rather than images, most paintings used patterns and forms. Only silk was used for this style of art. 

When the paper was first introduced in the 1st century AD, there was a shift in the taste of Chinese artists. 

#4 fact: The Han and Tang dynasties were the first to emphasize human beings in their artwork.

History Of Painting: The Han and Tang dynasties were the first to emphasize human beings in their artwork.

Not only did landscape art find its way to China during the Song dynasty, but portrait paintings also flourished and became a more conventional and sophisticated art form than ever before.

After that, The Ming Dynasty provided substantial support to this art form in order for it to flourish and gain dominance over other kinds of art.

Chinese painters began imitating the Western style of oil painting in the 19th century, and it remained popular until the early 20th century.

#5 Fact: Impressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, and Post-Impressionism were all born as a result of China’s connection with Western art.

Brief History of Painting (Japanese Art)

Next on our list is the brief history of painting (Japanese art) that is flooded by a wide range of genres and styles. 

Painting is one of the oldest and most polished forms of Japanese art.

And there were countless events that occurred in the past that shaped ancient as well as modern Japanese painting. 

Primarily the rivalry between native Japanese aesthetics and the incorporation of foreign ideas shaped Japanese art — It dates back to Japan’s primordial era.

#6 Fact: Buddhism was a common theme in Japanese painting when art was flourishing. As a result, religious painting flourished across the country. 

Plus, It was used to portray a number of aristocratic temples.

Later, Ukiyo-e, a Japanese woodblock print style, thrived in Japan for over 4 centuries — the era when the majority of creative paintings were made. 

History Of Painting: Ukiyo-e, a Japanese woodblock print style,

Landscapes, theatres, and courtesan areas were all featured in the artwork. 

Throughout the nineteenth century, this style and genre made a huge impact on French painting.

(Also read: Top 23 Paintings In Paris Museum

Brief History of Painting (Korean Art) 

Around the collapse of Gojoseon in 108 B.C., Korean painting began. 

The development of Korean painting wasn’t evident until Gojoseon. 

Artists of the time were interested in a variety of genres. That mostly reflected Korea’s Three Kingdoms era.

Apart from that, The majority of the paintings were recognized as depicting the royal graves of Goguryeo.

History Of Painting: the royal graves of Goguryeo.

It was during this period that Korean art was predominantly defined by a synthesis of Korean-style landscapes, face emotions, and Buddhist-centred topics.

Later on, advanced Korean astronomy fostered celestial observation, which was heavily highlighted in Korean painting.

Korean art has a long history of using monochromatic black brushwork, generally on mulberry paper or silk. 

And this style was already discovered in China that remained famous in Japan as well. 

Post-1945 Korean painters modified their painting styles with Westerns’. 

Some were fascinated by impasto techniques and foreground brushstrokes which were popular among European artists. 

#7 Fact: There have been 4 popular genres in Korean art that included Daoist painting, Buddhist painting, Confucian painting, and Decorative painting. 

Brief History Of Painting (Indian Art) 

Indian art has had a significant influence on Eastern art.

For ages, several people dominated this resource-rich country. And the art style was one of the things they left behind with the Indians.

Indian painting, on the other hand, has always been noted for its rich heritage and history in Indian art.

That is why there were so many masterpieces in prehistoric times.

#8 Fact: India’s oldest artworks were rock paintings. They were discovered in the Bhimbetka rock shelters.

History Of Painting: India's oldest artworks were discovered in the Bhimbetka rock shelters

Some Stone Age rock paintings have also been discovered amid the Bhimbetka rock shelters that are estimated to be 10,000 years old.

Indian paintings have a long and illustrious history; artworks and cultural elements were centered on religious lords and rulers.

The majority of the paintings were heavily influenced by Indian mythology. Every work of art, from the Ajanta frescoes to Mughal miniature paintings, was meticulously crafted.

Both Buddhist sacred art and general pictorial art inspired Indian paintings.

During the eighteenth century, Rajput art spread throughout India.

It was a Rajput painting that depicted the scenes, themes, and events of epic Hindu mythological Ramayana, Mahabharata, Krishna’s life, and other famous stories.

Besides Modern painting and Rajputs, there were 3 major styles of Indian painting that ruled everyone’s hearts. 

1. Madhubani Painting 

It was practiced in the Mithila region (Bihar) by using fingers and tools such as twigs, brushes, and matchsticks;

2. Mughal Painting

It emerged from Persian miniature painting which depicted battles, wildlife, mythology stories, hunting scenes, etc; 

3. Tanjore Painting

It’s a panel painting made on wooden planks; popularly known as souvenirs for South Indian festivals.

Brief History of Painting (Indonesian Art) 

#9 Fact: The oldest known figurative artwork was unearthed roughly 40,000 years ago, according to archives.

History Of Painting: The oldest known figurative artwork was unearthed roughly 40,000 years ago

Indonesian paintings are based on endemic natural motifs like ferns and hornbills and are known as Kenyah ornamental art.

Toraja wood carvings, Balinese painting, and other geometric shapes were among the different types of Indonesian art.

The discovery of ‘aerograph’ was the most wonderful of all. 

Ancient Indonesian painters utilized this method to create paintings on cave walls. 

They would basically spray chewing leaves and colorful mineral stones on their hands and then stamp them on caverns.

Later, around the 5th century AD, the most common themes found in Indonesian art were inspired by Indian tradition. That included religion, mythological, and historical times

The paintings, at that time, were created on elongated fabrics, and temple walls.

Majorly there were Hindu-Buddhist art and Islamic art – which is centered in Kraton.

In the Islamic art of Indonesia, the motives of living things in their truest forms were prohibited.

Most of the paintings are made for depicting stories of Wayang characters and about the holy history of the prophet.

Brief History Of Painting (Philippines Art) 

In the past, Filipino painting was heavily inspired by Western and Eastern art.

And these were reflected in the early Filipino tattoo tradition. The ‘Painted People of the Visayas,’ according to the Portuguese explorer.

Filipino painters in their early stages created some magnificent artworks.

That had survived and was included in the Marano’s arts and architecture, which is also home to the Naga Dragon and the Sarimanok.

During the Spanish colonial period in the 17th century, Filipinos began to paint in European fashion.

History Of Painting: Filipinos began to paint in European fashion in 17th century

They included church paintings, biblical religious themes, sculptures of Christian idols, and portraits of the European nobility.

Out of all forms of art, Ethnomedicine is considered one of the oldest traditional arts in the Philippines. The practitioners of this style were medical artisans and shamans.

Let’s try to know about the history of Western art and its progress since its origin! 

Brief Introduction To Western Art

In this section, you’re going to learn the history of painting — in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other Western countries.

#10 Fact: The Grotte Chauvet in France houses the oldest known paintings of Western art.

History Of Painting: The Grotte Chauvet in France houses the oldest known paintings of Western art.

The artwork, which was carved with red ochre and black pigment was believed to be over 32,000 years old by a group of experts.

Animals were portrayed in the majority of prehistoric artworks. Scientists understood it afterward and expressed their thoughts on it.

This was done in order to propagate the impression that hunting is more convenient. As a result, the majority of paintings depicted animalistic visions and paid respect to the natural world.

The nobility and the middle class were the primary audiences for Western art.

That is, painters worked for the church and an opulent elite from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance.

Commercial galleries were built in the nineteenth century and supported far into the twentieth.

During the Renaissance, Western art thrived across Europe.

The rich tradition of Western painting persisted through the Baroque period to current art, following the depth of discovery and complexity of inventions of the Renaissance.

Brief History of Painting (Egyptian Art) 

Ancient Egypt has a lot of mural paintings in its temples and monuments.

History Of Painting: Ancient Egypt has a lot of mural paintings in its temples and monuments.

Egyptians painted in a more symbolic rather than realistic style.

Ancient Egyptian paintings included figures with strong outlines and flat silhouettes, with symmetry being a prevalent characteristic.

Egyptian art is inextricably tied to the Egyptian written language, known as hieroglyphs. Painted symbols were among the oldest forms of written language.

Such masterpieces include paintings of the gods and goddesses Ra, Horus, Anubis, and Isis.

As time moved on, ancient Egyptian art reached a substantial level of elegance.

However, it is said that Egypt paintings that depicted tombs, temples, and palaces were merely made on a flat surface.

Ancient Egypt paintings have always been a topic of discussion that has inspired artists of Greece and Rome.

Brief History of Painting (Greek Art) 

History of Painting (Greek Art) 

Painting and sculpting were both considered physical labor in Ancient Greece at one point.

A recent example of their architecture is the Parthenon. Black-figure vase painting and red-figure vase painting are two of the most well-preserved types of Greek art.

With their work on wooden panels, three great Greek painters impacted generations. 

Apelles, Zeuxis, and Parhasius were the three of them.

Apelles, a renowned painter made masterpieces such as Alexander Mosaic, Aphrodite Anadyomene, and Alexander as Zeus.

History Of Painting: Alexander Mosaic

On the other hand, Zeuxis, and Parhasius were known for their works produced on wooden panels and frescoes on walls.

However, there are no surviving examples of Ancient Greek panel paintings, just written records from their contemporaries or Romans.

Brief History of Painting (Roman Art)

Art in Rome was influenced by Greece. As a result, it was thought to be a descendant of ancient Greek art.

Roman painting, on the other hand, has its own set of characteristics.

Brief History of Painting (Roman Art)

Among the Roman artworks that have survived are wall paintings and frescoes from villas in Campania, in Southern Italy, such as Pompeii and Herculaneum.

These paintings were used to adorn the interiors of private residences in the city.

There were merely four painting styles that helped Roman painting strive.

The first style was about the simulation of marble of various colors and types on painted plaster. Which fell at the time of the Roman colonization of Pompeii. 

It’s an era that transformed what used to be an italic town with Greek influences into a Roman city. 

In simple words, it represented subjects beyond expensive building materials mainly gods, mortals, and heroes in various contexts. 

The second style made its way in the early first century when fresco artists copied architectural fashion purely by pictorial means.

Also, there were a series of figurative paintings displayed as if seen through a window of walls. 

Later, the forms took a major shift – artists started focusing on renovation rather than recreation which used to happen. 

The third style emerged with Augustus’ reign – Mainly, wall paintings with a single monochrome background were prominent in the period.

Besides, figural and landscape settings appear to be the center of attraction majorly on walls.

However, the frescoes from the imperial remained the topic of discussion for years. 

The fourth style revived the large-scale narrative painting and panoramic vistas. 

Some of the best works were displayed in Pliny’s Natural History and in Vitruvius’ manual De Architectura which showed the elaborate technique employed by wall painters. 

Brief History of Painting (Renaissance and Mannerism) 

Renaissance art is the painting, sculpture, and decorative arts of the Renaissance period in European history, which emerged as a separate style in Italy around AD 1400.

History Of Painting: A famous painting from Renaissance

#11 Fact: Renaissance art was based on Classical antiquity art, which was considered the most honorable of past traditions.

However, by incorporating modern achievements in Northern European art and applying current scientific understanding to that legacy, it was transformed.

It spread across Europe with Renaissance humanism philosophy, inspiring both artists and their patrons. They were linked to cutting-edge methods and innovation at the time.

According to art historians, Renaissance art represents Europe’s transition from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern era.

During the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, the body of work known as “Renaissance art” was primarily generated in Europe under the combined effects of heightened awareness of nature, a resurgence of classical learning, and a more personalized perspective of a man.

Scholars are no longer in agreement that the Renaissance marked a radical rupture with medieval ideals, as the French word renaissance implies.

As a result, in many regions of Europe, early Renaissance painting coexisted with Late Medieval painting.

The idea of Renaissance painting was to reflect the revolutions and concepts of the 16th-century movement called ‘Reformation’. 

Paintings gained their independence from architecture with the progress of easel painting.

People started accepting the idea of movable pictures (easel paintings) that can be hung on walls. At a fast pace, the paintings that were fixed to furniture became an old fashion.

And in the coming years, artists made use of religious imagery, and secular subjects as the aspect of painting – covering and depicting the vision of the world.

Mannerism, a stylized art form is a product of the advancement of the Renaissance.

As it encompassed a variety of approaches which made it associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Vasari, and Michelangelo.

It emphasized proportion, balance, and ideal beauty — importantly, it exaggerated qualities that are often asymmetrical or unnaturally sophisticated.

Although there were debates on Mannerism and its phases among art historians.

It was generally known for early forms of literature and music in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Mannerism produced world-class painters such as Jacopo da Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Agnolo Bronzino, Alessandro Allori and dozens of others.

Brief History of Painting (Baroque And Rococo)

The prevalence of important Baroque paintings in non-absolutist and Protestant kingdoms also underscores the style’s popularity, since the style expanded throughout Western Europe. 

Paintings from Baroque time

#12 Fact: Painting during the Baroque period, which began around 1600 and lasted until the 17th century, is known as Baroque. 

Among the finest Baroque artists are Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and others.

Religious and mythical paintings in the Grand Manner by painters such as Carracci, Guido Reni, and Luca Giordano epitomize the Baroque style in Italy.

Many painters became specialists in genre, others in landscape, seascape, or still life, and a much quieter type of Baroque emerged in the Dutch Republic, where easel paintings of everyday subjects were popular with middle-class collectors, and many painters became specialists in genre, landscape, seascape, or still life.

In the 18th century, Rococo arose as a lighter extension of Baroque, with a focus on playfulness and sexuality.

Paintings from Baroque era

The court artists’ and general creative techniques shifted after Louis XV’s ascension.

Antoine Watteau’s and François Boucher’s paintings reflected the peak of Rococo development in France in the 1730s.

Rococo preserved the Baroque’s fondness for complex shapes and intricate patterns, but it began to add a variety of other characteristics, such as an interest in Oriental themes and asymmetric compositions.

Paintings from Rococo time

The Rococo style was popularised by French painters and engraved publications. It was well-received in Catholic parts of Germany, Bohemia, and Austria, where it complimented the vigorous German Baroque traditions.

Paintings from Rococo era

German Rococo was passionately applied to churches and palaces in the south, whereas Frederician Rococo developed in the Kingdom of Prussia.

Now you know the brief history of Western as well as Eastern art, let’s move to our last topic ‘introduction to American art’. 

Brief Introduction To American Art

Throughout art history, American art has seen incredible transformations.

Each region of America held a unique and interesting art culture. Africans were a strong influence on the Caribbean and South American region.

On the other hand, intruders from Europe impacted Americans on a deeper level when it came to painting portraits and landscapes.

American paintings depicting landscape, human figures, and culture.

#13 Fact: American art, during the 15th century, was dominated by the culture and style of Spain, Portugal, France, The Netherlands, and England. 

The cultural influence head across the Atlantic by the 19th century. 

Top 4 famous American artists from 19th century

Fast forward to the nineteenth century, painters created a variety of works of art. They presented themselves as if everyone had begun to recognize them as members of a unified movement.

Following WWII, the artists rose to international prominence and acclaim. It was the first time that performers toured outside of their own country.

That’s all for today.

Thanks for reading my blog History Of Painting till the end.

I have curated this information from various reliable sources and tried to explain the ancient history of Eastern, Western, and American art.

Famous painters play a major part in the history of paintings and they have carved the path for what art has become today.

I hope you found this article interesting and informative.

If I have missed something or misinformed you, let us know by commenting below.

If you want, you can read my other articles as well. Check out my most viewed article on Famous Landscape Paintings.

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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.

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