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Europe's most famous art

By George Garza
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Statue of David
Residing in Florence, Italy, the marble statue of David by Michelangelo is perhaps the most famous sculpture in all of history
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Europe's artistic masterpieces reflected important cultural changes.

One can speak about famous art and list hundreds of paintings and sculptures. But most artists work in an artistic environment, usually called artistic movements. Here are some of Europe's most famous art in the movements they worked in.

Mannerism (1520-1600)


This was a mid-16th century movement that originated in Italy. The subject was the human figure, usually in a distorted and elongated manner. The greatest Mannerist of them all is the Spanish painter El Greco; his most famous painting is "The Madonna and Child with St. Martina and St. Agnes." 

Classicism (1600 - 1800)

The study of Greek and Roman styles which emphasized harmony, balance and serenity influenced Classicism. The Classicist's leading artists included Michelangelo, Raphael, Correggio and Mantegna during the Renaissance period. Mengs and Winckelman are artists during the Neoclassical period. Raphael's "The Miraculous Draught of Fishes" is an example of his distinctive style.

Baroque (1625-1775)


When you combine art and architecture in the 17th and 18th centuries, you get Baroque art. Giovanni Bernini was a major exponent of the style. He believed in the union of the arts of architecture, painting and sculpture with the intention to overwhelm the spectator with dramatic and ornate themes.

The Catholic Church may have been the inspiration since it commissioned many objects but the style spread throughout Europe. There were important creations such as the Palace of Versailles. Bernini's masterpiece may be the "Cornaro Chapel."

Rococo (1700-1850)


Rococo is an 18th and 19th century style that was mainly associated with the decorative arts. Its name comes from the French, rocaille, meaning "rock work." Jean Honore Fragonard's "Young Girl Reading" is representative of that style.

Neoclassicism (1765-1830)

Towards the end of the 18th century Neoclassicism appears. It was a complex reaction against decadence and reflected some of the basic ideas behind the French Revolution. One of the most important painters of this genre is Ingres. Ingres was an excellent portrait painter. His masterpieces include The "Princess de Broglie" and "The Odalisque and Slave."

Romanticism (1800 - 1850)

The Romantic Movement emphasized emotional, spontaneous and imaginative approaches to artistic expression. It signified the departure from classical forms with an emphasis on emotional and spiritual themes. Delacroix was a painter in this genre; his painting "Liberty Leading the People" is a famous example.

Barbizon School (Landscape Painting) (18301870)

A group of 19th century French painters who rejected idealized landscape painting and instead sought a more informal but realistic portrayal of nature created the Barbizon School. They were heavily influenced by 17th century Dutch genre painting. Theodore Rousseau was a proponent of outdoor painting based on direct observation of one's surroundings.

Impressionism (1820-1890)

The late 19th century French school was dedicated to defining transitory visual impressions painted directly from nature with light and color of primary importance. If the atmosphere changed, a totally different picture would emerge. It was not the object or event that counted but the visual impression that was caught at a certain time of day under a certain light. You couldn't see the same object twice and see the same object. Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro were leaders of the movement. "Woman with a parasol" is one of Monet's famous paintings.

Camille Pissarro was ignored for many years; but his last years were very prolific and successful. One of his masterpieces is the "Red Roofs," which captured many aspects of Impressionism.

Cubism (1908-1917)

This was an early 20th century French movement that marked a revolutionary departure from representational art. Pablo Picasso and Georges Bracque penetrated the surface of objects, stressing basic abstract geometric forms that presented the object from many angles simultaneously. One of Bracque's representative art pieces is "Violin and Pitcher."

These examples of Europe's most famous art show how painters responded to their environment in a variety of different ways.

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