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Art of Europe

History of European works of art / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The art of Europe, or Western art, encompasses the history of visual art in Europe. European prehistoric art started as mobile Upper Paleolithic rock and cave painting and petroglyph art and was characteristic of the period between the Paleolithic and the Iron Age.[1] Written histories of European art often begin with the Aegean civilizations, dating from the 3rd millennium BC. However a consistent pattern of artistic development within Europe becomes clear only with Ancient Greek art, which was adopted and transformed by Rome and carried; with the Roman Empire, across much of Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.[2]

Apelles painting Campaspe, an artwork which shows people surrounded by fine art; by Willem van Haecht; c. 1630; oil on panel; height: 104.9 cm, width: 148.7 cm; Mauritshuis (The Hague, the Netherlands)
The Art of Painting; by Johannes Vermeer; 1666–1668; oil on canvas; 1.3 x 1.1 m; Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna, Austria)

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,[3] to reappear in a refined form in Neo-Classicism[4] and to be reborn in Post-Modernism.[5]

Before the 1800s, the Christian church was a major influence upon European art, and commissions from the Church provided the major source of work for artists. In the same period there was also a renewed interest in classical mythology, great wars, heroes and heroines, and themese not connected to religion.[6] Most art of the last 200 years has been produced without reference to religion and often with no particular ideology at all, but art has often been influenced by political issues, whether reflecting the concerns of patrons or the artist.

European 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, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Modern, Postmodern and New European Painting.[6]