Reply To: Painting

  • Encyclios

    April 24, 2023 at 9:12 AM

    From prehistory to the fourteenth century

    The Paleolithic offers numerous testimonies of parietal painting, particularly graffiti, but also made with different techniques (see prehistory, art). Parietal are also the pictorial testimonies of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, of which notable pictorial complexes are those of Tell Uqayr and Mari, of the palace of Tukultī-Ninurta and of the hall of the throne of Khorsābād. In the field of ancient art Etruria, especially the southern and internal, offers one of the largest complexes of painting with the wall decoration of its chamber tombs excavated in the rock. The most important centers are Tarquinia, Chiusi (tombs of the Monkey and Casuccini), Orvieto (Golini tombs), Vulci (François tomb), Veio (tombs of the Ducks and Campana) and Cere, however, only the necropolis of Tarquinia allow you to follow the historical development of Etruscan painting from the sixth century to II BC.

    The characteristics and the evolution of Greek painting can only be outlined through indirect documents, such as Greek figurative pottery, Etruscan funerary painting and Roman wall decoration; in fact, the originals are almost totally missing due to the perishability of the materials used (wooden boards and colors) and the destruction of the buildings on whose walls the paintings were located. The names of the major protagonists (Polignoto, Apelles, Zeusi, Parrasio, etc..) and their most famous works are known to us from literary sources. Predominantly of easel and narrative content, Greek painting in its evolutionary arc brought to completion its naturalistic, perspective and coloristic research, expanding in the Hellenistic period its repertoire to still life, landscape and the so-called genre paintings. Roman painting is characterized by large wall decorations in fresco or mosaic of villas and palaces, on Hellenistic examples. It is traditionally divided into four styles (A. Mau), which are identified with the Pompeian styles. Although no longer critically acceptable (Pompeii was only a small center and Roman painting obviously continued even after the destruction of 79 A.D.), the subdivision is still used for reasons of convenience.

    The early Christian painting, whose examples are given by the catacomb frescoes, constitutes from a technical-formal point of view the continuation of the Roman one. Painting as a figurative expression, with its own iconography and stylistic characteristics, developed in the early Middle Ages in an ecclesiastical environment, as an iconic or symbolic representation of the divinity and the saints, in the fresco cycles of churches and monasteries, in mosaic cycles, in the primitive miniatures of religious manuscripts, in paintings on wood. The function that it had to fulfill, of immediate visual stimulus to meditation, within a culture that had almost completely lost the memory of classical figuration, explains the formation of a non-naturalistic style, limited to the summary representation of the human figure through a few stylizing lines and simple colors. The individuality of the characters was established through objects-symbols of immediate understanding, remaining excluded any reference to the sensitive world (particularism in the description, narration of a fact) for the explicit prohibition by the Church. Formally, the European high medieval painting, if it presents some barbaric elements (for example in the very limited geometric and phytomorphic decoration), basically derived its models from Byzantine art, receiving gradually impulse to its evolution from the development of sculpture (XII century).

    The remarkable technical refinement achieved by painting in the thirteenth century, especially in the Italian and Germanic areas (Giunta Pisano, Coppo di Marcovaldo, the numerous anonymous Masters), is still to be seen in close relation to Byzantine art and plastic figuration as far as the formal level is concerned, but it was also determined by changes in the cultural and social order, in particular by the generalized conquest of culture by the aristocratic and bourgeois classes, which allowed the formation of a clientele carrying different values than the ecclesiastical one. On these premises, it was possible to develop in France the painting of stained glass and the miniature, then spread to England, in the provinces of the North and in Germany, while in Italy there was a particular development in mural painting and tempera on wood (Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, etc.). The demand for painted images was such that practically every European center of notable political and economic importance (Florence, Siena, Paris, Bruges, Cologne) became the seat of numerous workshops, which elaborated autonomous and original languages, with frequent and fertile cultural exchanges. Gothic painting, in addition to linearism and refined painting technique, which fully utilizes the richness and beauty of color, is characterized, in terms of content, by the representation of reality, whether secular or religious. In the fourteenth century in fact appeared the first paintings (mostly in cycles of frescoes) of profane subject.