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Timelines of World Art: Europe

c. 1000

The Gospels of Otto III are produced on the island of Reichenau, Germany. Included among the accomplished illustrations of New Testament text is a presumed portrait of the emperor. The cover is decorated with a Byzantine ivory plaque. Read more...

1037

The Cathedral of St Sophia in Kiev is founded. Modelled on Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, St Sophia's design diverges in the addition of 13 domes symbolizing Christ and his 12 apostles; a practice probably inspired by local Russian wooden architecture. Read more...

c. 1063

Doge Domenico Contarini orders the reconstruction of the basilica of S Marco to reflect the new wealth and power of Venice. This building's architecture and elaborate mosaic programme blends Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic features. Read more...

1066–1097

The Bayeux Tapestry is embroidered, probably in England, with an illustration of the Battle of Hastings. Not only is this textile an important early work of art but it is also a valuable historical document, as the military events are described in abundant detail. Read more...

c. 1080–1100

The awe-inspiring mosaic portrait of Christ Pantokrator in the central dome of the katholikon in Dafni, Greece presents a stern and powerful judge, as well as saviour, rendered in dark stones against a glimmering gold ground. Read more...

1088

The immense third church constructed at Cluny, mother church of the powerful Benedictine monastic order, sets a new standard of size in early Romanesque architecture. Read more...

c. 1125

Church porches, such as the one at St Pierre in Moissac, decorated with complex figural scenes are one of the primary innovations of Romanesque art and represent the earliest examples of large architectural sculpture in Europe since ancient times. Read more...

c. 1131

Painted by a Byzantine artist and taken to Kiev, the Virgin Eleousa, also called the 'Virgin of Vladimir', is one of the early icon paintings in Russia, establishing a tradition that continues long beyond the fall of the Byzantine empire in 1453. This painting is taken to Moscow in 1395 to protect the city from invasion by the Mongols. Read more...

1135

Reconstruction begins on the Saint-Denis Abbey Church, near Paris by Abbot Suger, transforming it into the first full example of Gothic architecture. This shrine, which is the burial place of the first bishop of Paris, becomes the main monastery, treasury and burial place of French royalty. Read more...

1163

Construction of the famed Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris begins. Eventually this soaring structure comes to epitomize Gothic architecture, boasts the first use of the architectural technique of flying buttresses and for a long time it is the tallest building in the Western world. Read more...

1174

An eight-storey bell-tower is built next to the cathedral in Pisa. Because it sits on marshy land, the tower begins to tilt during construction, which the architect tries in vain to rectify. Read more...

1194

After a fire in 1194, Chartres Cathedral is rebuilt. The elaborate programme of brightly coloured stained glass includes religious and historical scenes, as well as images of common people at work. Read more...

c. 1198

Master goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun creates the Three Kings' shrine, bringing a renewed interest in classicism to a structure made of exquisite gilded bronze, silver, gemstones and enamel. Read more...

1211

The exterior of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims is decorated with a great many sculptures, many of which depict the Virgin Mary, reflecting the increased attention being paid to the mother of Jesus. The sculptures reveal a heightened sense of movement and interaction that foretells the greater realism of later Gothic art. Read more...

1260–1280

Italian painter and mosaicist Cimabue paints Virgin and Child Enthroned in which he combines aspects of Byzantine painting traditions with an interest in volume and human emotions that influences later artists. Read more...

1294

The Cathedral of S Maria del Fiore in Florence, with its soaring dome and classical forms and construction techniques, is one of the earliest precursors of the Renaissance style in Italy. Read more...

1300–1400

Sultans of the Nasrid dynasty in Spain build, decorate and expand palace-citadels, the most elaborate of which is the Alhambra in Granada. The numerous rooms, richly ornamented walls and lush gardens form one of the splendours of Islamic architecture. Read more...

c. 1305

In the frescoes he paints for the Arena Chapel in Padua, the Florentine painter Giotto develops a new naturalism and emphasis on emotion that exerts a strong and lasting influence. Read more...

1325–1328

The richly illustrated prayer book known as the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux, is made for the use of the Queen of France during her daily private devotions. Read more...

1411

The Limbourg brothers begin the brilliantly coloured and highly detailed Très Riches Heures (Book of Hours) for the illustrious patron Jean, Duc de Berry. Left unfinished at the time of the deaths of the duke and the artists, it is completed by later masters. Read more...

1411–1427

Andrey Rublyov, one of Russia's most talented and influential religious painters, depicts three archangels with Abraham in his Old Testament Trinity. Read more...

c. 1427

Masaccio produces some of the earliest Italian Renaissance paintings, such as the frescoes painted for the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. His paintings incorporate classical proportions and express complex emotions. Read more...

1434

Jan van Eyck paints the full-length portraits of Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami, two of his wealthy patrons. An example of van Eyck's mature work, the painting is highly polished, full of symbolism and treats light and shadow in a sophisticated and consistent manner. Read more...

1436

Filippo Brunelleschi completes the ribbed dome of Florence Cathedral and creates a structure of unprecedented size and design. Read more...

1441

Angelo Borovier takes over the family glassmaking business in Murano, Italy and invents several new types of glassware, including cristallo, lattimo and chalcedony. Read more...

1452

Lorenzo Ghiberti, a versatile Renaissance artist and foremost bronze-caster of his day, completes his masterpiece the Gates of Paradise, the east doors of the Baptistery in Florence. In these panels Ghiberti not only develops a new form of pictorial narrative in low relief but also merges idealism and realism. Read more...

1456

Johann Gutenberg produces the first printed Bible using movable, metal type. Read more...

c. 1459

Drawing on a lifetime of studying Roman statues and observing the human form, Donatello casts his innovative statue of a nude David for his patron Cosimo de' Medici. Read more...

1469

Lorenzo 'the Magnificent' de' Medici assumes power in Florence and gathers to his court the period's best philosophers, poets and artists, including Botticelli and Michelangelo. Read more...

1470–1480

Martin Schongauer creates the Temptation of Saint Anthony and contributes significantly to the development of the art of engraving and its expressive potential as an artistic medium. Read more...

c. 1478

Sandro Botticelli paints Primavera, which draws its imagery from contemporary vernacular love poetry and is a manifestation of the learning and culture espoused at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent in Florence. Read more...

1484–1489

The current Cathedral of the Annunciation is built in Moscow and serves Russia's princes and later tsars. While incorporating a number of innovative features, the cathedral, with its brick domes and cross-shape layout, is typical of other churches built in the region during the period. Read more...

c. 1498–1550

Large, elaborately woven tapestries, such as the Lady and the Unicorn series, are made and used in great numbers during the late medieval and Renaissance periods to decorate and insulate castles and churches. Read more...

1500

Albrecht Dürer, one of Germany's most accomplished, versatile and influential artists, paints his last and most arresting self-portrait in which he presents an idealized version of himself and promotes the recognition of artists as creators rather than craftsmen. Read more...

c. 1500

Andrea Mantegna paints Dead Christ, a work ground-breaking in its use of dramatic foreshortening and overwhelming emotion. Read more...

1500–1507

Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa, perhaps the world's most well-known painting. Leonardo combines expressive painting techniques with keen observation and attention to the human form and psyche to create one of the Renaissance period’s most evocative portraits. Read more...

c. 1504

Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch paints the Garden of Earthly Delights, which employs fantastic and disturbing imagery to warn against the evils of human error. Read more...

1510–1512

Raphael, one of the foremost painters of the Italian Renaissance, executes for the private quarters in the Vatican the School of Athens, an intellectually complex fresco depicting an assembly of ancient sages. Read more...

c. 1512–1515

Matthias Grünewald paints panels for a sculpted altarpiece in the Chapel of Antonines at Isenheim, creating one of the most important paintings of the German Renaissance. The dark and contorted image of Christ is one of the most gruesome Crucifixion scenes. Read more...

1536

Hans Holbein the younger, the most important painter of the English court, paints several portraits of the Tudor royal family, including sumptuous and regal paintings of Henry VIII. Read more...

1536–1541

Michelangelo creates a striking and poweful representation of the human form when he paints the Last Judgement on the wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Read more...

1538

Titian, one of the most versatile artists of his time, paints the Venus of Urbino for the private rooms of his patron the Duke of Urbino. While the subject of Venus is drawn from classical mythology and her flawless appearance is idealized, her attitude, accoutrements and environment lends a human quality to the portrait that is erotic and worldly. Read more...

1540–1560

Agnolo Bronzino executes technically superlative, highly rational and refined portraits for his patrons, the most important of which is Cosimo I de' Medici. Read more...

1555–1561

Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) gives thanks for his military victories by building the Cathedral of St Basil. Dedicated to the eight saints whom he believed assisted him, the church consists of eight stone chapels around a central unifying tower. Read more...

c. 1568

Peter Bruegel the elder paints the Peasant Wedding, in which he describes with great attention to detail and fidelity a boisterous weddingfeast. Bruegel is among the first to emphasize daily life and seasonal landscapes over religious themes. Read more...

1586

El Greco's distinctive painting style reflects the diverse traditions that influenced him, notably the mystical quality of Byzantine religious paintings, the bold colour of Venetian art and the dynamic compositions of Roman Mannerism. His masterpiece, the Burial of Count Orgaz, combines these attributes in a complex and visionary scene. Read more...

c. 1599

Caravaggio paints the Martyrdom of St Matthew and develops a bold style for religious paintings that creates three-dimensional settings for dramatic scenes that emphasize the humanity of saints and martyrs. Read more...


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