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Timelines of World Art: Europe

c. 220 BC

The marble sculpture of the Dying Gaul, a dramatic image of a warrior succumbing to death and defeat, is one of the most poignant ancient works of art. While his thick hair and necklace identify his ethnicity, his powerful physique gives added credit to the invincible Roman army that killed him. Read more...

c. 200 BC–c. 33 BC

The Louvre's famous Nike of Samothrace is carved out of marble in Greece to celebrate the winged personification of Victory. Samothrace refers to the island on which the statue is discovered in 1863. Read more...

c. 150 BC–c. 120 BC

Many great ancient Greek masterpieces, such as the marble Venus de Milo in the Louvre, survive only as copies made by Roman craftsmen. When Greek statues and other works of art are imported into Rome, they spark such enthusiasm that local sculptors produce copies to satisfy market demands. Read more...

c. 100 BC

Mosaic-makers of Pompeii produce elaborately detailed pictures with millions of small marble pieces. The earliest examples are derived from Greek paintings, such as Philoxenos' 4th-century BC depiction of the Battle of Alexander the Great and Darius III. Read more...

c. 100 BC–50 BC

The Romans build an aqueduct that consists of three tiers of arches across the River Gardon in south-eastern France. This large bridge survives nearly intact today and is known as the Pont du Gard. Read more...

c. 75 BC

The Great Torc, a thick rope-like necklace made of gold and found in Snettisham, England exemplifies Celtic ornaments made of metal and decorated with elaborate geometric designs that may have been made for personal use or as an offering to the gods. Read more...

c. 75 BC

Ancient Rome's greatest amphitheatre, the elliptical Colosseum, is built to accommodate between 45,000 and 73,000 viewers for the gladiatorial games and contests between men and beasts. Read more...

c. 75 BC–50 BC

Romans honour respected members of society by commissioning and displaying their portraits in public places. These images, such as the marble statue of a wrinkled old patrician with a bulbous nose and worried expression, are usually extremely realistic. Read more...

c. 60 BC

Pompeii's Villa of Mysteries is decorated with wall paintings that use such painting devices as shading and perspective to create the illusion of mythological figures set among architectural elements. Read more...

c. 19 BC

Emperor Augustus effectively employs architecture and sculpture to legitimize and glorify his reign. His imposing statue at Prima Porta develops a new iconography in which small appliquéd images of deities and conquered enemies adorn his battle armour. Read more...

c. AD 5–c. AD 25

The Portland Vase is the best-known example of cameo glass from antiquity. Probably made in Rome from white glass overlaying deep blue glass, the romantic scene indicates the vase may originally have been a wedding gift. Read more...

AD 100–AD 200

Artisans in distant regions of the Roman Empire, such as Gaul and Britain, employ Roman techniques to make ornate and intricate silver tableware. Read more...

AD 113

Trajan's Column, set in the Forum of Trajan–Rome's largest forum–celebrates the victorious battles of Emperor Trajan with a long narrative of his military conquests that spirals up the surface of the column. Trajan himself is depicted 60 times in this visual history. Read more...

AD 118–AD 125

Emperor Hadrian commissions the building of the Pantheon to revere the Roman gods. This concrete structure, which is one of the chief accomplishments of Roman architects, consists of a circular domed temple and a rectangular entry porch. Read more...

AD 122–AD 128

Hadrian's Wall is constructed across 50 kilometres of the British countryside to defend the Roman Empire's northern frontier. Read more...

c. AD 150–c. AD 250

The painting of the Good Shepherd on the walls of the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome typifies the preference for scenes from the Old and New Testaments as decoration for early Christian places of burial and worship. Read more...

AD 161–AD 180

The bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius depicting the emperor astride his war horse exemplifies developments in Roman sculpture styles which exaggerate the subject's facial expressions and uses deeper carving to create effects of shading and light. Read more...

c. AD 300

The relief sculpture of the Tetrarchs, set into the corner of the façade of the cathedral of S Marco in Venice, is a study in political art. Echoing the royal perogative to wear purple cloth, the material used is porphyry, a purple stone imported from Egypt. The political unity of the four rulers of the Roman Empire is expressed by the hands that clasp each other, while their other hands hold their swords, representing their bravery and military might. Read more...

AD 313–AD 330

A basilica is built over the tomb of the apostle Peter in Rome to honour the Christian saint. Over the centuries St Peter's is greatly expanded beyond its origins as a place for common prayer and burial. Read more...

c. AD 400–c. AD 550

Taking advantage of stocks of elephant tusks and skilled craftsmen, Early Christian icons depicting saints and sacred narrative scenes are carved onto ivory plaques. Read more...

c. AD 425–c. AD 450

The Vatican Virgil is one of the earliest known Latin Bibles. Produced in Rome, the illustrations follow an illusionistic style and resemble Roman Christian mosaics of the period. Read more...

c. AD 450–c. AD 500

One of the earliest Christian basilicas in France is rebuilt on the burial and pilgrimage site of St Martin in Tours, replacing the original church constructed just after the death of St Martin in AD 397. Read more...

c. AD 450–c. AD 750

Glassmaking, having been established in France under the Romans, continues to prosper under the Merovingians, with such new forms emerging as the 'claw beaker' decorated with blobs of molten glass. Merovingian glass is exported widely and up until the 7th century AD these highly prized vessels are often included in burials. Read more...

c. AD 546–c. AD 547

Emperor Justinian and his retinue are shown in full majesty in the opulent mosaic on the walls of S Vitale in Ravenna. Justinian's rule, marked by enthusiastic art patronage, is considered the first golden age of Byzantine art. Read more...

c. AD 625

A high-ranking man is entombed in a burial-ship with an abundant supply of jewellery, metal vessels and armour. When this grave at Sutton Hoo in England is discovered in 1939 it provides one of the most important assemblies of early Anglo-Saxon art and trade goods. Read more...

c. AD 698

The Latin Lindisfarne Gospels are written and illustrated at a monastery on an island in Northumbria, England. The illustrations combine striking geometric patterns with figural images inspired by Mediterranean prototypes. Read more...

c. AD 750–c. AD 800

The Book of Kells is one of the most elaborately illustrated versions of the Latin Gospels produced in the British Isles and combines Christian iconography that originated in the Mediterranean region with a local fondness for exhuberant and dense decoration and colour. Read more...

AD 769–AD 787

Charlemagne builds a great palace complex in Aachen that reveals the strong influence of Roman architecture; a reflection of Charlemagne's political aspiration to be a regarded as a Roman emperor. Read more...

c. AD 800

Monumental stones are incised with scenes of ships and battles at Gotland in Scandinavia. Related to Viking burial practices, these scenes are thought to represent the journey to the afterlife in Valhalla. Read more...

c. AD 880

The Carolingian Lindau Gospels are produced in Switzerland and covered with an elaborately decorated gold plaque inlaid depicting the Crucifixion and inlaid with gemstones. Read more...


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