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Timelines of World Art: Europe

c. 1613

Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the earliest female artists to achieve recognition and influence, paints her best-known and most violent image, Judith Beheading Holofernes. She is especially well known for her dramatic history paintings. Read more...

1622–1624

The most famous sculptor of the 17th century, Gianlorenzo Bernini carves his Apollo and Daphne, in which he brings to life the moment that Daphne turns herself into a laurel tree to escape the affections of the pursuing god. Read more...

c. 1638

Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens paints The Garden of Love, one of his late and fully-realized pictures of a theme drawn from Classical literature set in a complex outdoor tableau. Read more...

1642

Rembrandt produces one of his most famous paintings, the 'Night Watch', in which he succeeds in rendering a commissioned portrait of local militiamen as an arresting historical drama. Read more...

1656

Working for the Spanish court, Diego Velázquez paints his masterpiece Las Meninas, in which he depicts members of the royal family, their attendants and himself with his characteristic acute sense of observation. Read more...

1665

Johannes Vermeer paints Girl with a Pearl Earring and imbues the portrait with delicacy and stillness, as well as emphasising the effect of light. Read more...

1669

Louis XIV orders the construction of a new palace at Versailles, outside Paris. The massive and ornately decorated buildings, myriad sculptures and lavish gardens all underscore the grandeur of the Sun King. Read more...

1737

The influential Salon is established in Paris at the Palais du Louvre and exhibits paintings and sculptures chosen by members of the Académie Royale. Read more...

1768

The Royal Academy of Arts opens in England and becomes one of the most important professional art schools and exhibiting galleries in Europe, introducing new artists to potential patrons and setting official standards. Read more...

1768–1772

Jean-Honoré Fragonard creates a series of technically accomplished figure paintings known collectively as figures de fantaisie, in which he sets models, many of whom were famous individuals, in settings with distinctive yet varied moods. Read more...

1793

The most important painter in 18th-century France, Jacques-Louis David, dramatizes the assassination of the revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat in his bath with a stark and cold portrait. Read more...

1794

English poet, painter and printmaker William Blake produces The Ancient of Days as the frontispiece of his illustrated epic poem Europe: A Prophecy. Blake combines his writings and pictures, which he calls 'illuminated printing', into philosophical and prophetic compositions. Read more...

1814

Francisco de Goya immortalizes the Spanish resistance to French occupation with Third of May 1808, in which he focuses the viewer's attention on the heroism and agony of those about to be executed by flooding them with a bright, white light. Read more...

1814

Grande Odalisque reveals Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres's exceptional ability to render the details and textures of the clothing and accessories that surround his models. Read more...

1819

Théodore Gericault depicts the horrendous events of a shipwreck in the Raft of the Medusa, an early Romantic composition that unflinchingly represents human suffering and man's struggle against the forces of nature. Read more...

1830

Depicting an actual historical event in an allegorical manner, Eugène Delacroix celebrates the heroism of a group of freedom-fighters in the July Revolution, a three-day battle calling for a republic. Ironically, Liberty Leading the People is later purchased by the aristocrat who is chosen to lead the constitutional monarchy. Read more...

1834

Honoré Daumier protests against the brutality of the French government with his lithograph Rue Transnonain. Throughout his career he paints and draws satirical cartoons and coldly observant depictions of the poor. Read more...

1837

Artist Louis Daguerre produces one of the first workable photographic processes, which he terms the daguerreotype. Read more...

1838

J. M. W. Turner completes his last masterpiece the Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her Last Berth to Be Broken up, which fully reveals his experimental painting techniques and belief that landscapes and seascapes could convey a wide range of ideas and emotions. Read more...

1849–1850

Giving expression to his own political views, Gustave Courbet paints a large composition of peasants and commoners presented frankly and directly in A Burial at Ornans. This is one of the compositions that leads to the development of Realism in French painting. Read more...

1857

When The Gleaners is displayed at the Paris Salon, Jean-François Millet is praised by some for the beauty and simplicity of the labouring rural women, while others condemn Millet for his stark image of poverty and his implied political challenge. Read more...

1863

Edouard Manet shocks Paris audiences with Déjeuner sur l'herbe, which places nude females in a frank and challenging setting with clothed men of leisure. This and other paintings condemned by the official Salon are exhibited in the newly established Salon des Refusés. Read more...

1864

Incorporating his ideas of nature, expressionistic brushwork and the effect of frequent travels throughout Europe, Camille Corot paints Souvenir of Mortefontaine. Read more...

1867

After trade is re-established in 1854, Japanese goods begin entering Europe. The World's Fair in Paris presents the first formal exhibition of Japanese arts and crafts in the West and inspires many European painters to develop new techniques and painting effects in a movement known as Japonisme. Read more...

1870–1873

Il'ya Repin, one of the foremost Russian Realist painters, creates his large work, the Volga Boatmen. While revealing the inhuman conditions under which the men toil, he celebrates their perseverance and ushers in a new Russian movement of genre painting. Read more...

1871

Auguste Rodin casts The Thinker as part of a commission for a museum that was never built. Meant to represent the great author Dante, the statue is made as part of the larger composition the Gates of Hell. Read more...

1875

James McNeill Whistler paints his famously expressive Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, which prompts the critic John Ruskin to describe Whistler as 'flinging a pot of paint in the face of the public'. Whistler successfully sues Ruskin only to be nearly bankrupted when he is awarded one farthing damages and faces huge legal costs. Read more...

1875–1883

Edward Burne-Jones, one of the second generation of Pre-Raphaelite artists, paints such works as the Wheel of Fortune, inspired by ancient tales and myths but with a modern, highly polished appearance. Read more...

1876

The modernity, gaiety and light that suffuses Auguste Renoir's Le Moulin de la Galette are all characteristics features of Impressionism. Read more...

c. 1876

Although he disliked the term, Edgar Degas is considered one of the founders of Impressionism. He is especially associated with depicting ballerinas in oils, pastels, bronze and clay. Read more...

1884

John Singer Sargent, the most fashionable painter in the USA and England in the late 19th century, paints a scandalous portrait, known as Madame X, of a famous Parisian beauty. Read more...

1884

Georges Seurat invents the technique known as Pointillism used in such paintings as La Grande Jette. His juxtaposition of minute dots that the eye blends together at a distance makes use of modern theories about colour. Read more...

1889

Vincent van Gogh paints one of his best-known and most expressive works, Starry Night. Read more...

1889

Engineers Gustave Eiffel and Maurice Koechlin construct a 300-metre-tall iron tower, which is now known as the Eiffel Tower, for the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Read more...

1891

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec produces his first poster of a Parisian nightclub, Moulin Rouge, La Goulue. This image immediately becomes popular throughout Paris and Toulouse-Lautrec's success helps increase the value of posters. Read more...

1893

Norwegian painter Edvard Munch paints The Scream, one of his highly emotional studies of fear, relationships and death. Read more...

c. 1893

Paul Cézanne, who is not very successful in his lifetime, seeks to add solidity to his images by emphasizing their geometric forms, a trait especially visible in his still-lifes. His challenge to the approach of the Impressionists ushers in the Post-Impressionist movement. Read more...

1897

Paul Gauguin summarizes his career by exploring the three ages of human life in Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? His subject of native women and their environment is based on his years living in Polynesia. Read more...

1908

Henri Matisse, the principal protagonist of Fauvism, paints Dinner Table (Harmony in Red). Read more...

1929

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the German architect, builds the German Pavilion for the Exposición Internacional in Barcelona, creating one of the most important buildings of the Modern Movement. Read more...

1931

Spanish Catalan artist Salvador Dalí paints landmark Surrealist painting, The Persistence of Memory Read more...

1936

Meret Oppenheim creates the quintessential Surrealist work with Object, a fur-covered teacup that conveys the evocative yet uneasy effect of Surrealism. Read more...


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