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direct application of pigment to a surface to produce by tones of color or of light and dark some representation or decorative arrangement of natural or imagined forms.

See also articles on individual painters, e.g., RubensRubens, Peter Paul,
1577–1640, foremost Flemish painter of the 17th cent., b. Siegen, Westphalia, where his family had gone into exile because of his father's Calvinist beliefs.
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; countries, e.g., Dutch artDutch art,
the art of the region that is now the Netherlands. As a distinct national style, this art dates from about the turn of the 17th cent., when the country emerged as a political entity and developed a clearly independent culture.
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; periods, e.g., Renaissance art and architectureRenaissance art and architecture,
works of art and structures produced in Europe during the Renaissance. Art of the Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance
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; techniques, e.g., encausticencaustic,
painting medium in which the binder for the pigment is wax or wax and resin. Examples of encaustic tomb portraits from Roman Egypt bear witness to the durability of the medium, which is thought to have been widely used in ancient times.
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Materials and Techniques

Painters use a number of materials to produce the effects they desire. These include the materials of the surface, or ground; the pigments employed; the binder, or medium, in which the color is mixed; and its diluting agent. Among the various media used by artists are frescofresco
[Ital.,=fresh], in its pure form the art of painting upon damp, fresh, lime plaster. In Renaissance Italy it was called buon fresco to distinguish it from fresco secco, which was executed upon dry plaster with pigments having a glue or casein base.
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, watercolorwatercolor painting,
in its wider sense, refers to all pigments mixed with water rather than with oil and also to the paintings produced by this process; it includes fresco and tempera as well as aquarelle, the process now commonly meant by the generic term.
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, oil, distemper, gouache, temperatempera
, painting method in which finely ground pigment is mixed with a solidifying base such as albumen, fig sap, or thin glue. When used in mural painting it is also known as fresco secco (dry fresco) to distinguish it from the buon fresco
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, and encausticencaustic,
painting medium in which the binder for the pigment is wax or wax and resin. Examples of encaustic tomb portraits from Roman Egypt bear witness to the durability of the medium, which is thought to have been widely used in ancient times.
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. In addition to these, painting properly embraces many other techniques ordinarily associated with drawingdrawing,
art of the draftsman. In its broadest sense it includes every use of the delineated line and is thus basic to the arts of painting, architecture, sculpture, calligraphy, and geometry.
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, a term that is often used to refer to the linear aspects of the same art.

If painting and drawing are not always clearly distinguishable from each other, both are to be distinguished from the print (or work of graphic art), in which the design is not produced directly but is transferred from another surface to that which it decorates. While the print may be one of many identical works, the painting or drawing is always unique. Painting has been freely combined with many other arts, including sculpture, architecture, and, in the modern era, photography.


In ancient Greece and medieval Europe most buildings and sculptures were painted; nearly all of the ancient decoration has been lost, but some works from Egypt have preserved their coloring and give us an insight into the importance such an art can assume. The art of painting in China was linked from the 1st cent. A.D. with the development of the Buddhist faith. Early Christian and then Byzantine artists established iconographic and stylistic prototypes in wall painting and manuscript illuminationillumination,
in art, decoration of manuscripts and books with colored, gilded pictures, often referred to as miniatures (see miniature painting); historiated and decorated initials; and ornamental border designs.
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 that remained the basis for Christian art (see iconographyiconography
[Gr.,=image-drawing] or iconology
[Gr.,=image-study], in art history, the study and interpretation of figural representations, either individual or symbolic, religious or secular; more broadly, the art of representation by pictures or images, which may or
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Highly spiritualized in concept, the medieval painting tradition gave way to a more worldly orientation with the development of Renaissance art. The murals of GiottoGiotto
(Giotto di Bondone) , c.1266–c.1337, Florentine painter and architect. He is noted not only for his own work, but for the lasting impact he had on the course of painting in Europe. Training

Giotto reputedly was born at Colle, near Florence.
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 became a vehicle for the expression of new and living ideas and sentiments. At the height of the Renaissance a large proportion of the works were decorations of walls and altarpieces, which were necessarily conceived in terms of their part in a larger decorative whole and their appeal for a large public. The greatest masterpieces of RaphaelRaphael Santi
or Raphael Sanzio,
Ital. Raffaello Santi or Raffaello Sanzio , 1483–1520, major Italian Renaissance painter, b. Urbino. In Raphael's work is the clearest expression of the exquisite harmony and balance of High Renaissance composition.
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 and MichelangeloMichelangelo Buonarroti
, 1475–1564, Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, b. Caprese, Tuscany. Early Life and Work

Michelangelo drew extensively as a child, and his father placed him under the tutelage of Ghirlandaio, a respected artist of the day.
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 and of the Florentine masters are generally public works of this character. The same period also saw the rise of the separate easel painting and the first use of oil on canvas. Simultaneously are found the beginnings of genregenre
, in art-history terminology, a type of painting dealing with unidealized scenes and subjects of everyday life. Although practiced in ancient art, as shown by Pompeiian frescoes, and in the Middle Ages, genre was not recognized as worthy and independent subject matter
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 and other secular themes and the elaboration of portraitureportraiture,
the art of representing the physical or psychological likeness of a real or imaginary individual. The principal portrait media are painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. From earliest times the portrait has been considered a means to immortality.
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Basing their art on the technical contributions of the Renaissance, e.g., the study of perspectiveperspective,
in art, any method employed to represent three-dimensional space on a flat surface or in relief sculpture. Although many periods in art showed some progressive diminution of objects seen in depth, linear perspective, in the modern sense, was probably first
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 and anatomy, the baroque masters added a virtuosity of execution and a style of unparalleled drama. From the age of the rococo, painting tended in the direction of greater intimacy. It is noteworthy, for example, that many of the masterpieces of the 19th cent., and particularly of impressionismimpressionism,
in painting, late-19th-century French school that was generally characterized by the attempt to depict transitory visual impressions, often painted directly from nature, and by the use of pure, broken color to achieve brilliance and luminosity.
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, are small easel paintings suitable for the private home. The same period saw the rise of the large public gallery with both temporary and permanent exhibitions, an institution greatly expanded in the 20th cent.

A reawakened interest in mural painting and the contributions of painting to such arts as the motion picture and video have led some to believe that a return to a greater emphasis on the public functions of the art is taking place. Such a view can find support in the notable influence of abstract painting in the fields of industrial and architectural design. This art also continues to enjoy undiminished popularity in the home and gallery. Painting has had a long and glorious world history as an independent art. From Giotto to PicassoPicasso, Pablo
(Pablo Ruiz y Picasso) , 1881–1973, Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and ceramist, who worked in France. He is generally considered in his technical virtuosity, enormous versatility, and incredible originality and prolificity to have been the
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 and from Ma YüanMa Yüan
, fl. c.1190–1225, Chinese painter of the Sung dynasty and foremost of the Ma family of painters. He became one of the most important landscape painters of the 12th and 13th cent., the other being Hsia Kuei.
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 to HokusaiHokusai
(Katsushika Hokusai) , 1760–1849, Japanese painter, draftsman, and wood engraver, one of the foremost ukiyo-e print designers. After producing wood engravings for several years, he became a pupil of the celebrated artisan Shunsho, adopting the name Shunro.
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, painting has never ceased to produce great exponents who have expressed not merely the taste but the aspirations, the concepts of space, form, and color, and the philosophy of their respective periods.


See M. Levey, A Concise History of Painting (1962); R. Mayer, Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques (3d ed. 1970); W. Slatkin et al., Art Through History (1986); G. F. Brommer and N. Kinne, Exploring Painting (1988); H. Hensche, The Art of Seeing and Painting (1988).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a form of visual art created by applying colors to a hard surface. Like other modes of artistic expression, painting fulfills ideological and cognitive roles, serving at the same time to create material aesthetic values. One of the most highly developed forms of human endeavor, painting reflects and, in accordance with particular ideological concepts, evaluates the spiritual essence and social development of an epoch. By virtue of this reflective role, painting itself becomes a microcosm of social struggle. Painting powerfully influences the feelings and thoughts of the viewer and forces him to experience the reality depicted by the artist; therefore, it serves as an effective agent of social education. Many paintings have documentary value.

Painting vividly demonstrates those properties (common to all art forms) that impelled N. G. Chernyshevskii to regard art as “life’s textbook.” The graphic images of painting allow the artist to present his evaluation of life to the viewer in a particularly convincing manner. The artist’s employment of color, of line, and of expressive brushwork makes painting a flexible mode of artistic expression. To a greater degree than any other form of figurative art, painting reproduces the world’s wealth of color, the three-dimensionality and distinct characteristics of objects, texture, space, and the quality of the light and air. Although paintings are unchangeable and must necessarily represent images as they are seen during a single moment, they depict not only static states but can also render temporal development or capture an emotion and a fleeting moment. Illusions of movement and change are created by rhythmic pictorial composition and by dynamics of color, light and shadow, composition, line, and brush-work.

A painting can relate a narrative and deal with a complicated plot. It not only represents the visible phenomena of the real world (including nature in its various states) and broad pictures of the life of man, but it also seeks to reveal and interpret the essence of life’s processes and of man’s inner world and to express abstract ideas. The broad scope with which painting describes reality is reflected in its numerous types (for example, historical, genre, battle, and animal paintings).

Painting is differentiated into various categories depending on its purpose, technique, and subject matter. Decorative monumental painting, which includes murals, ceilings, and panels, functions as part of an architectural space, giving the human environment an ideological content. Easel painting (pictures) is more intimate and usually is not intended for a particular place. Other types of painting include theatrical painting (sketches of sets and costumes for the theater and motion pictures), icon painting, and miniature painting (including portraits and manuscript illustration), as well as dioramic and panoramic paintings.

Types of painting are also differentiated according to the materials used to bind the coloring substance, or pigment, and according to the technique used to apply the pigment to the surface—oil painting, fresco (pigments mixed with water on wet plaster), secco (pigments mixed with water on dry plaster), tempera, distemper, encaustic, enamel, ceramic (binders are fusible glass, fluxes, or glazes fired on ceramics), and silicate painting (binder is water glass). Other materials for paintings are watercolors, gouache, pastels, and India ink. Mosaics and stained glass are closely related to painting, because they deal with the same representational and decorative problems as monumental painting.

The most important element of painting is color. Its expressiveness and its ability to evoke sensual associations intensify the emotional impact of an image. Color offers extensive pictorial and decorative possibilities; tonal variations in color form an integrated system within a work of art. A set of interrelated colors and their variations (color spectrum) is usually used, but there are also monochromatic paintings composed of tones of one color. The color composition (the schema of the distribution and interrelations of areas of color), which is a specified element of artistic structure, unifies a painting and affects its perception by the viewer. Another expressive tool of painting is drawing (line and chiaroscuro), which, along with color, organizes the picture into a rhythmic composition. Line delineates forms and often embodies the basic design of the painting, allowing a generalized or de-tailed reproduction of the outlines of objects, including the most minute elements.

Painting is conventionally divided into two groups—two-dimensional painting and three-dimensional painting. However, there is no clear-cut distinction between them. Two-dimensional painting is characterized by flat areas of local colors outlined by expressive contours and by clear rhythmic lines. Ancient and, to some extent, modern painting has included conventional methods of spatial construction and object representation (sometimes shown from various sides at the same time). Although the viewer perceives logical representation and spatial placement of objects, the inherent two-dimensionality of the picture surface remains intact. This kind of painting, implicitly stylized and decorative, functioned in many epochs as an element of architecture and was subordinated to the smoothness of walls and other architectural elements. Miniatures and icons of certain eras were also relatively two-dimensional, as were many paintings at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

In antiquity there arose a desire to reproduce the real world with verisimilitude, as viewed by man. This resulted in the appearance of three-dimensional representation in painting. Related to this development was the birth of easel painting, which was intended for individual contemplation and liberated painting from its subordination to architecture and, in many ways, from its decorative functions. Three-dimensional paintings can reveal spatial relationships and create a complete illusion of deep three-dimensional space (usually appearing to be in front of the viewer). The flatness of the painting surface can be visually destroyed by gradations of tone, aerial and linear perspective, and distribution of warm and cold colors (advancing and receding); form is modeled with color and chiaroscuro. Both three-dimensional and two-dimensional representations use the expressiveness of line and local color. The illusion of volume and even sculptural effects is achieved by gradations of light and dark tones distributed over a well-defined area of color. In such cases the coloring is often variegated, and the figures or objects do not blend with the surrounding space to create a unified whole. The representational possibilities of tonal painting are richer. By means of a complicated and dynamic development of color in relation to light and to interaction of adjacent colors (impingement), tonal painting shows the slightest changes in both colors and their tones. The general tone unifies the objects with the ambience of light and air and with space; as a result, line often loses its formative role and is overwhelmed by the shimmering color mass.

In China, Japan, and Korea, a unique kind of painting developed, in which spatial representation was conditioned by an Oriental artistic perception of the universe. Far Eastern artists seem to include themselves as elements of the universe in their depictions. These paintings create a sensation of infinite space seen from above—parallel lines recede but do not meet in the distance. Chiaroscuro is absent. Figures and objects are virtually devoid of volume; their arrangement in space is defined primarily by tonal relationships.

Paintings are composed of the support (for example, canvas, paper, cardboard, stone, glass or metal), which is usually covered with a ground. Then follows a layer of color and sometimes a protective coat of varnish. The figurative and expressive possibilities of painting, particularly in terms of technique, in many ways depend upon the properties of the pigment. These properties are determined by the extent of pigment pulverization and character of the binders. The artist’s tools (for example, brush or palette knife) and his sol-vents, as well as the support and the ground (which both absorb the binder to some degree), determine the technique of paint application and the resulting texture of the work. The color of the support or the ground, when it shows through to the surface, affects the overall coloration of a painting; some-times parts of the support or the ground that are left un-painted can play a role in determining the coloristic structure of the work (primarily in watercolor). The surface texture of the finished work may be glossy or dull, homogeneous or fleched, smooth or rough. The desired color or shade is obtained by mixing the paint on the palette or by scumbling. Dabs of various colors placed side by side may appear to blend together when viewed from a certain distance.

The style, specific painting technique, and composition of a picture (or icon), as well as the interior for which it is intended, are related to its format (most often rectangular, less frequently round or oval), and sometimes to its frame. A picture is enclosed in a frame in order to concentrate the viewer’s attention on the work of art itself.

The execution of a picture or mural is preceded by sketches and studies, in which the artist’s idea is made concrete and the composition, various details, and color scheme of the work are developed. Execution itself is a process of several stages. This process was particularly definite and consistent in medieval tempera painting and classical oil painting. A drawing is made on the ground to construct the composition and indicate the fundamental chiaroscuro relationships. An underpainting is applied to model the form, and scumbles that richly saturate the picture surface with color are added. There is also a more impulsive technique of painting, which enables the artist to express his impressions of life directly and dynamically (particularly in alia prima painting); problems of drawing, composition, modeling of form, and color are resolved simultaneously.

History. Painting originated during the Upper Paleolithic period (40,000 to 8000 B.C.). Rock paintings, preserved, for example, in the caves of Font-de-Gaume in southern France and Altamira in northern Spain, were executed with earthen pigments (red, yellow and brown ochers, umber), as well as with black soot and charcoal. They were applied with split sticks, pieces of fur, or the artist’s fingers. Truthful, expressive, and dynamic depictions of individual animals and, later, hunting scenes were created. Although Paleolithic art used linear representations, silhouettes, and uncomplicated modeling, principles of composition were feebly expressed. More developed and generalized abstract concepts of the world were reflected in the stylized rhythmic painting of the Neolithic period (for example, the paintings in Valtorta, Spain). The human figure first appeared in Neolithic narrative cycles.

In the painting of the slaveholding societies there evolved developed systems of images and a wealth of techniques. Pigments (earthen: yellow, red, and brown; mineral: blue and light blue) were applied in an even layer onto a white ground; binders (albumen, casein, gluten, and gum resins) and bristled brushes came into use. In the despotic countries of the Orient (for example, ancient Egypt) and in pre-Columbian America, monumental painting was created (there were painted tombs and, less frequently, painted buildings). It was usually connected with funerary cult and was emphatically narrative in character. Its primary element was a generalized and often schematic image of man. The strict canonization of images, the compositional features, and the relationship between figures reflected the brutal hierarchy that characterized slaveholding society. Ancient painting was also decorative. The flatness of the painting emphasized the planarity of the wall. Paintings on ancient Egyptian sarcophagi (pictures of life after death, including the depiction of battle scenes, scenes from daily life, and animals) attained a particularly high degree of excellence. These paintings are distinguished by musical rhythm, clear composition, and refinement of line.

In classical antiquity painting also formed a synthesis with architecture and sculpture, serving both religious aims and secular purposes; this resulted (particularly in ancient Greece) in a conception of the social, moral, and instructive significance of painting and of art in general. Gradually, new specific possibilities were discovered that made painting thematically more flexible than sculpture. Painters sought to create a sensual, full-blooded embodiment of the world.

Ancient Greek and Roman painting is characterized by either flat or modeled representations, by broad, free brush-work, and by realistic representations of objects and, to some degree, space. As painting developed, the artist’s palette broadened and grew richer. Tonal painting originated at this time and was practiced simultaneously with local-color painting. The principles of chiaroscuro and distinctive variants of linear and aerial perspective also originated in antiquity. In addition to the depiction of mythological scenes, landscapes, portraits, and still lifes were painted, as well as genre and historical scenes.

As a result of a long period of development, the decorative monumental painting that adorned temples, dwellings, tombs, and stoas (for example, the frescoes and mosaics pre-served in Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum, Kazanluk, and the Northern Black Sea Shore) created illusionistic alterations of architectural space and form. Ancient Greek and Roman frescoes, composed on multilayered plaster with an admixture of marble dust in the upper layers, have glistening, glossy surfaces.

Paintings on wood panels and, more rarely, on canvas, originated in Greece—few of these paintings have been preserved. Easel painting was executed primarily by the encaustic method (less frequently with glue paints and tempera), which made it possible to model forms expressively. The Faiyum portraits demonstrate some of the elements of ancient Greek and Roman easel painting.

During the Middle Ages, the painting of Western Europe, Byzantium, Rus’, the Caucasus, and the Balkans developed primarily within the confines of Christian ecclesiastical ideology and depicted religious, spiritually expressive, ascetic images. Although the artists followed a strict canon, medieval painting contains traces of individual (frequently naive) observations or of popular beliefs (for example, in the icons and frescoes of Theophanes the Greek, Andrei Rublev, and Dionisii). The principal kinds of painting were murals (on dry or wet, often rough, plaster applied to stone or brick sur-faces), icons (painted, usually with egg tempera, on wood panels covered with a ground and requiring a predominantly flat treatment of forms), and miniature painting on manuscripts (using tempera, watercolor, gouache, glue or paint, and other paints on treated parchment or paper). The execution, the type of picture, the composition, and the color scheme were all set by tradition.

Painted with the care expected of craftsmen, the icons and murals (subordinated to architectural elements and the flatness of the walls), as well as mosaics and stained glass, combine with the architecture to create a unified church interior. The heightened emotionalism and decorativeness of medieval painting derive from the expressions of sonorous, saturated colors and accentuated rhythmic lines, as well as from the expressiveness of sharp contours. Medieval paintings are flat and stylized, with abstract backgrounds, often gold. Conventional methods to model form were sometimes used; figures seem to project from a painted plane, devoid of depth. Compositional and color symbolism play an important role (for example, blue was associated with the Madonna in Western European painting).

In the first millennium A.D., in the countries of Southwest and Middle Asia and in India, China, and Ceylon, monumental painting experienced considerable development (using glue paints on a white gesso or plaster coating over a clay and straw support). In feudal times, in Mesopotamia, Iran, India, Middle Asia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, decorative two-dimensional miniature painting developed. It was distinguished by fine coloration, graceful ornamental rhythm, and vivid personal observations of life. Painting in China, Korea, and Japan was executed with india ink, watercolor, and gouache on paper and silk scrolls. Far Eastern painting is distinguished by its poeticism and the striking acuteness of its observations of man and nature. Over the centuries Oriental painters perfected a laconic style, as well as a subtle tonal rendering of aerial perspective.

During the Renaissance in Western Europe, principles of a new humanistic art celebrating life were asserted. Based on an antifeudal world outlook, it rediscovered and probed the earthly material world and was permeated by the spirit of early bourgeois anthropocentricity. This served to enhance the role of painting, and a system rendering a more realistic representation of life was worked out. In the 14th century the Italian painter Giotto anticipated many of the achievements of Renaissance painting. The scientific study of perspective, optics, and anatomy, as well as the introduction of the technique of oil painting, which was perfected by Jan van Eyck (in Flanders), helped to reveal the potential properties of painting. Renaissance painting, assimilating the world’s wealth of colors and using chiaroscuro modeling, convincingly suggests volumetric form in unity with deep space (developed behind the visually eliminated painted surface) and with the quality of light. The fresco technique was revived; frescoes sometimes served to visually extend the interior of a church or palace. Easel painting took on great importance, although it still preserved its decorative unity with the surrounding objects. A feeling for the harmony of the universe, enchantment with the freshness of individual living details, interest in real personalities, and spiritual vitality characterized compositions on religious and mythological subjects, portraits, genre scenes, historical scenes, and paintings of nude models. During the Renaissance the tempera technique was replaced at first by a combined technique (scumbling, retouching with tempera, and working out the details with oils), and later by a technically perfected multilayered oil and varnish painting technique without tempera. In addition to the smooth detailed painting on boards coated with a white ground (characteristic of artists of the Flemish school), the Venetian school of painting developed methods of free, broad, impasto painting on canvases with colored grounds. At the same time that painting with local, often bright, colors and with precise delineation flourished, tonal painting was developing, particularly in the Venetian school, which brought out the wealth of coloristic possibilities in painting with subtlety and diversity. The greatest painters of the Renaissance were Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Mantegna, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Giorgione, Titian, Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Tintoretto in Italy, J. van Eyck and P. Brueghel in the Netherlands, and A. Dürer, H. Holbein the Younger, and M. Neithardt (Grünewald) in Germany.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the development of European painting became complicated. National schools arose in France (J. La Tour, P. Champaigne, N. Poussin, A. Watteau, J. B. Chardin, J. Fragonard, and J. L. David), in Italy (M. Caravaggio, D. Fetti, P. da Cortona, G. B. Tiepolo, G. M. Crespi, and F. Guardi), in Spain (El Greco, D. Velasquez, F. Zurbaran, B. E. Murillo, and F. Goya), in Flanders (P. P. Rubens, J. Jordaens, A. van Dyck, and F. Snyders), in Holland (F. Hals, Rembrandt, J. Vermeer, J. van Ruisdael, G. Terborch, and C. Fabritius), in England (T. Gainsborough and W. Hogarth), and in Russia (F. S. Rokotov, D. G. Levitskii, and V. L. Borovikovskii).

Intensive struggles between trends, between progressive and reactionary ideas, and between forward-looking directions and academicism occurred; various styles of painting coexisted. Painters proclaimed new social and civic ideals, turning to more extensive and exact representations of real life in its movement and diversity, and particularly of man’s daily environment (for example, household utensils, landscapes, and interiors). Artists delved deeper into psychological problems, and the conflicting interaction between the personality and the world was understood and represented in painting. In the 17th century the system of genres expanded and became clearly defined. In the 17th and 18th centuries monumental decorative painting flourished, particularly in the Baroque style. Painting was closely related to sculpture and architecture and created, often with the aid of illusionary effects, an emotional environment that had a strong impact on people. During this period, the role of easel painting grew.

The increased complexity of problems in painting, the abundance of tasks facing it, and differences in class attitudes led to the formation of various systems of painting. Some of these systems share several common stylistic traits; others do not fit into any one definite stylistic category. Baroque painting is characterized by emotionalism and dynamics, as well as by open and spiral compositions. Paintings of the classicists are balanced and are distinguished by precise, clear, and severe drawing; chiaroscuro modeling predominates over color, especially local color effects. Rococo painting is distinguished by its play of refined and fluid color shades and of light and pastel tones. Aspiring to the most subtle recreation of the world’s rich colors and of its air and light ambience, many artists perfected their own systems of tonal painting. This resulted in the dramatic individualization of the techniques that were dominant in the multilayered oil painting of the 17th and 18th centuries. At the same time, several artists, specialists in particular graphic motifs, would often collaborate to create a single painting. The growing popularity of easel painting, which resulted from an increasing demand for works intended for personal contemplation, led to the development of finer, easier, more intimate techniques of painting, such as pastels, aquarelles, india ink drawings, and various kinds of portrait miniatures.

In the 19th century new national schools of painting developed in Europe, particularly in the Balkan countries, and in America. The ties of European painting with other parts of the world expanded. In India, China, Japan, and other coun-tries the method of European realistic painting and its individual formal achievements were given original interpretations, often on the basis of ancient local traditions. European painting was in turn influenced by art of non-European coun-tries, particularly that of Japan and China. This influence was evident in new decorative and rhythmic organizations of the picture surface.

During the 19th century, painting solved complicated and topical philosophical problems with more depth and scope than other branches of fine art. Often associated with social and national liberation movements, it played an active role in society. Nineteenth-century painting expressed incisive criticism of the social realities of the times. At the same time, throughout the entire 19th century, academic canons of painting were officially cultivated. These canons dictated the abstract idealization of images, as well as naturalistic tendencies which ignored distinctive and independent creative expression in painting.

Romantic painting developed in opposition to the rationalistic and abstract tendencies of official academic salon painting. Romantic painting was characterized by emotional fervor, active interest in dramatic historical and contemporary events, and depiction of strong human passions, as well as by energetic brushstroke, dynamic composition, contrasts of light and dark, and rich color. T. Géricault and E. Delacroix were major French romantic painters. O. A. Kiprenskii, Sil’vestr Shchedrin, K. P. Bruillov, and A. A. Ivanov in Russia were, to a considerable degree, adherents of the romantic school.

Realistic painting rejected classical ideals of harmonious perfection and was based on direct observation of life. It adopted a more complete, concretely authentic, and often emphatic graphic representation of life. Realistic painters included J. F. Millet and J. B. C. Corot and other masters of the Barbizon school, as well as G. Courbet and H. Daumier, in France; J. Constable in England; A. von Menzel and W. Leibl in Germany; and A. G. Venetsianov and P. A. Fedotov in Russia, democratic realistic painting presented a broad picture of the everyday life and labor of the people, as well as their struggle for rights. It addressed itself to the most important historical events and created bright, psychologically profound images of common people and progressive social leaders. Schools of national realistic landscape painting arose in many countries. The painting of the peredviihniki (members of the “Wander-ers”—a progressive art movement) and of artists close to them in spirit, which was associated with the bourgeois democratic stage of the Russian revolutionary movement, was noted for unusually strong social and critical acuteness. Among these artists were V. G. Perov, I. N. Kramskoi, I.E . Repin, V. I. Surikov, V. V. Vereshchagin, and I. I. Levitan.

In the beginning of the 1870’s, impressionism arrived at a lively representation of the surrounding world in all its naturalness, spontaneity, and constant changeability, as seen in France in the paintings of C. Monet, P. A. Renoir, C. Pissarro, and A. Sisley, and to some degree in the paintings of E. Manet and E. Degas. The impressionists abandoned the conventions and dark tonality that at that time characterized painting. Modernizing technique and composition, they brought out the beauty of pure colors, vibrant picturesqueness, and textural effects.

In Europe during the 19th century, easel painting executed in oil predominated, even though it was removed, in terms of a decorative relationship, from the objective environment. Oil painting often acquired a vividly individual, free character, gradually losing its careful, strictly systematic many-layered approach. The durability of paintings decreased as a result of the use of new factory-produced paints that replaced the manually ground paints. The creation of new pigments and binders expanded the artist’s palette. At the beginning of the 19th century the dark-colored grounds characteristic of the 18th century were replaced with white grounds.

Monumental decorative painting (which at this time almost exclusively used distemper or oil paints), with monumental architecture and sculpture, went into a decline. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, attempts were made to revive monumental painting and to merge various kinds of painting into a single ensemble with works of decorative applied art and with architecture (primarily in modern art). Techniques of creating monumental decorative art were modernized and silicate painting was developed.

During this period, the development of painting throughout the world became especially complicated and contradictory. Realistic and modernist trends coexisted and conflicted with one another at the same time. Imbued with the ideals of the Great October Revolution and armed with the method of socialist realism, painting developed rapidly in the USSR and other socialist countries. New schools of painting arose in the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as in Australia.

Realistic painting of the late 19th and early 20th century followed the best traditions of the painting of previous epochs. It is distinguished by democratic tendencies and close ties with life. Realist painters sought to understand and reveal the world in all its contradictions, along with the essence of the innermost processes of society and the inner meaning of events that often are not obvious. As a result, the reflection and interpretation of many phenomena of life frequently assume an acutely subjective, generalized, and symbolic character in realist painting of this period.

In addition to this sensually authentic, illusory, three-dimensional method of representation, 20th-century painting also employs new and revived (from ancient times) conventions in its treatment of the visible world. Many elements in 20th-century trends first appeared in the works of postimpressionist painters, such as P. Cezanne, V. van Gogh, P. Gauguin, and H. Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as in paintings of the art nouveau style to a degree. These elements included an active expression of the artist’s personal relationship with the world and an emphasis upon the emotional, psychological powers and the associative nature of color. The use of color bears little resemblance to color relations seen in life. Forms are exaggerated, and the overall effect is highly decorative. The first 20th-century art movement was fauvism. The garishness of the bright color contrasts and the general character of the image were dictated above all by the will of the fauvist artist, who experienced life with intensity. A new understanding of the world is expressed in the paintings of great Russian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as is seen in the pointed social comment and vivid images in the pictures of V. A. Serov and in the tensely dramatic works of M. A. Vrubel’.

In the 20th century various aspects of reality are interpreted and transformed in paintings by the most prominent artists of capitalist countries, including P. Picasso, H. Matisse, F. Leger, and A. Marquet in France; D. Rivera, J. C. Orozco, and D. Siqueiros in Mexico; R. Guttuso in Italy; and

G. Bellows and R. Kent in the USA. Many of their pictures and murals express with heightened emotionalism a truthful understanding of the tragic paradoxes of reality, which entails a denunciation of the evils characteristic of the capitalist order. Forward-looking painters spread modern progressive political ideas in their work, recreating historical and contemporary events with particular breadth, epic feeling, and expression. Their paintings reveal a cheerful optimistic attitude toward the world and express enchantment with its materiality. The aesthetic perception of the new technical age resulted in an enthusiastic reflection of industrialized life and the introduction of geometric machine-like forms, to which organic forms were often reduced. In addition, painters began to seek new forms, evocative color relationships, and images related to modern man’s attitudes and spiritual needs which could be used in the decorative arts, architecture, and industry.

At the beginning of the 20th century, various modernist currents in painting were practiced on a wide scale, primarily in capitalist countries. By severing their ties with reality to a greater or lesser extent, modern painters reflect the general crisis of culture in bourgeois society. However, at times, in-direct references to the “sickness” of the modern age and an irrepressible spirit of protest are found in modernist painting. This is evident in expressionist painting, with its dramatic violence and sense of crisis. In modernist painting trends, such as cubism, futurism, and surrealism, individual, more or less easily recognizable elements of the visual world are fragmented, geometricized, presented in unexpected, sometimes illogical combinations (generating a multitude of associations), or combined with purely abstract forms. From 1910 to 1920 the evolution of many of these movements resulted in a total rejection of representational art and the appearance of abstract painting. This signaled the collapse of painting’s role as a means of reflection and interpretation of reality. Abstract painting was a popular form of artistic expression, primarily in capitalist countries, until the early 1960’s. From the middle of the 1960’s, painting at times served as an element of the pop art movement in the countries of Western Europe and America.

During the 20th century the role of monumental decorative painting has grown. Representational monumental painting, such as the revolutionary democratic painting in Mexico, seeks, above all, to involve a mass audience in the circle of ideas it embodies. Nonobjective monumental painting is usu-ally flat and abstractly ornamental and harmonizes with the geometrical forms of modern architecture. Easel painting continues to play a major role; however, it often serves as part of a general architectural artistic ensemble, as a result of the increasing decorativeness of artistic elements.

In the 20th century, interest in the discovery of new painting techniques has grown. This includes painting with wax and tempera. New pigments have been invented for monu-mental painting—pyroxylin in Mexico and silicone paints with an ethyl silicate base in the USSR. Oil paints, however, remain the most popular medium.

Multinational Soviet painting is closely related to communist ideology and to principles of partiinosf (partymindedness) and national art. Based on the traditions of realism, Soviet painting critically reexamines the achievements of Russian and world painting, particularly of those art systems that developed in the second half of the 19th century and the outset of the 20th. Enriched by a new vision of the world, it represents a qualitatively different stage of development in painting, which is determined by the triumph of the method of socialist realism.

Painting is developing in all of the Union and autonomous republics of the USSR, resulting in the emergence of national schools of painting. Inherent to Soviet painting are a keen sense of reality and of the sensual material solidity of the world, spiritually saturated images, and often a romantically elevated arrangement. The desire to capture socialist reality in all its complexity and fullness led to the utilization of a plenitude of genres, which are given new content. As early as the 1920’s historical revolutionary subjects took on special significance, as seen in the canvases of M. B. Grekov, A. A. Deineka, K. S. Petrov-Vodkin, B. V. loganson, I. I. Brodskii, and A. M. Gerasimov. Patriotic painting appeared later, telling the story of Russia’s heroic past and showing the fortitude of the Soviet people and the historical drama of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45.

Portraiture plays an important role in the development of Soviet painting. The typological portrait creates collective images of men of the people and of participants in the revolutionary reconstruction of life, as seen in portraits by A. E. Arkhipov and G. G. Ryazhskii. Other Soviet portraitists, such as M. V. Nesterov, S. V. Maliutin, and P. D. Korin, continue the traditions of the intense psychological portrait, revealing the inner world and the spiritual makeup of the Soviet man. The inherent life-asserting principles of Soviet painting predominate in many portraits, as seen in the work of P. P. Konchalovskii.

The typical Soviet tenor of life, with all its diverse manifestations, is reflected in genre painting, which provides a poetic, bright depiction of the new people and the new order of life. Large canvases permeated by the enthusiasm of socialist construction are characteristic of Soviet painting. Such works have been created by S. V. Gerasimov, A. A. Plastov, lu. I. Pimenov, and T. N. lablonskaia. Pictures depicting work scenes are popular and often attractive because of their distinctive national features. The aesthetic expression of the distinct forms of life in the Union and autonomous republics lies at the heart of the national schools that arose in the Soviet period and are the composite parts of the unified artistic culture of Soviet socialist society. These various expressions are revealed in paintings by M. Sar’ian, S. A. Chuikov, U. Tansykbaev, T. Salakhov, E. Iltner, M. A. Savitskii, A. Gudaitis, and A. A. Shovkunenko.

In landscape paintings, as in other genres, national artistic traditions are combined with a modern feeling for nature and with a search for the new. The lyricism of Russian landscape painting, as seen in the works of V. N. Baksheev, N. P. Krymov, and N. M. Romadin, is complemented by the development of the industrial landscape with its onrushing active rhythms and its transformations of nature. Industrial landscape painters include B. N. lakovlev and G. G. Nisskii. Still life painting has achieved a high level of excellence, as seen in the works of I. I. Mashkov and P. P. Konchalovskii.

The evolution of the social functions of painting has been paralleled by a general development of artistic culture. Within the limits of a single realistic method, Soviet painters are working to achieve a diversity of art forms, techniques, and individual styles. An affinity for monumental forms has characterized Soviet painting from its very inception. The great extent of construction, including the erection of large public buildings and memorial ensembles, has fostered the development of monumental decorative painting (for example, the works of V. A. Favorskii, E. E. Lansere, and P. D. Korin); techniques of tempera mural painting, fresco, and mosaic have been revived.

During the 1960’s the influence of monumental and easel painting upon one another increased. The desire to use the expressive means of painting to the utmost was intensified.


luon, K. O zhivopisi. Leningrad, 1937.
Kiplik, D. I. Tekhnika zhivopisi [6th ed.]. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Kamenskii, A. Zriteliu o zhivopisi. Moscow, 1959.
Slánsky, B. Tekhnika zhivopisi. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from Czech.)
Nedoshivin, G. A.Besedy o zhivopisi, 2d ed. Moscow, 1964.
Vseobshchaia istoriia iskusstv, vols. 1–6. Moscow, 1956–66.
Istoriia russkogo iskusstva, vols. 1–13. Moscow, 1953–69.
Vipper, B. R. Stat’i ob iskusstve. Moscow, 1970.
Ward, J. History and Method of Ancient and Modern Painting, vols. 1–4. London, 1913–21.
Venturi, L. Painting and Painters. New York-London, 1946.
Fosca, F. La Peinture qu’est-ce que c’est? [Porrentruy, 1947.]
Cogniat, R. Histoire de la peinture. Paris, 1956.
Barren, J. N. The Language of Painting. Cleveland-New York, 1967.

V. V. FILATOV (general problems of painting, history of painting to the end of the 19th century), O. V. MAMONTOVA (painting at the turn of the 20th century), M. L. NEIMAN (Soviet painting)



the application of painting compounds to the surface of structural members of buildings and structures to increase their service life, improve sanitary and hygienic conditions inside them, and impart to them an attractive external appearance. Painting compounds include pigments and liquid binders with aqueous and nonaqueous bases. The binders used in water-based painting compounds are lime, cement, water glass, and various glues; in compounds with a nonaqueous base, natural and synthetic drying oils, synthetic resins, and bitumens are used. The binders determine the type of painting and the area of use of the compounds (painting with glue, oil, and synthetic compounds). Glue-based compounds are usually used to paint inside walls and ceilings of buildings that have normal humidity; oil compounds are used for outside surfaces (facades) of buildings and structures, inside areas with high humidity, and wooden and metal members. Synthetic painting compounds and petroleum-polymer, silicate, and water-emulsion paints are more versatile. They are used for finishing all types of surfaces and provide adequately reliable protection of structural elements and members under varying temperature conditions and in aggressive media.

After the painting compounds dry and harden they form a protective film that adheres solidly to the painted surface.

In addition to painting compounds, painters use various paint solvents and diluents (turpentine, white spirit, acetone, and so on), siccatives (to speed the drying of oil paints), and accessory mixtures, such as primers, putty, and pastes. Painting is done after installation and special construction jobs are finished—that is, under conditions that eliminate the possibility that the painted surfaces will be damaged or dirtied. Painting is characterized by a large number of operations, both preparatory and main. Painting work normally includes cleaning the surface, application of a primer compound, touch-up of uneven places, sanding, puttying, coloring, and finishing the surface.

The large scale of construction in the USSR has brought about significant changes in the methods and equipment for painting. At present, all main operations in painting are mechanized. Commercially produced ready-made paints are usually delivered to the construction site and then transported to the work areas by mechanized means and applied to the surface. In many cases, painting compounds are prepared by centralized paint workshops equipped with high-output units, and also by mobile paint shops. Large surfaces (facades) are cleaned by sandblasting before painting; electrical and pneumatic sanding and polishing machines and tools are used in interiors. Puttying is done with mechanized putty knives or by means of a special unit that sprays patching compounds and then smooths out the surface being worked. Painting units, sprayers, spray guns, and pneumatic rollers are used for drying, priming, and applying the paint compound. Painting is done with hand tools for small jobs and in places where machines cannot be used. In some cases painting work may include a number of types of artistic finishing: splashing, sponge finishing, roller designs, texture coloring, and stenciling.

Painting on a large scale is done with horizontal or vertical breakdown—that is, by levels or sections. A building is divided up into sectors of approximately equal labor-intensiveness, which are assigned to painting brigades. The brigades include a number of teams whose composition (in numbers and the qualifications of the painters) is determined by the complexity of the operation to be performed.

Because of the numerous operations and the need for intervals between certain processes, painting continues to be a very labor-intensive and prolonged process, even though the estimated cost is not high. In present-day housing and civil construction, painting constitutes 10-12 percent of the work in terms of labor-intensiveness, 3-3.5 percent in terms of cost, and up to 30 percent in terms of the time spent for building the entire unit. To reduce labor expenditures and the time required for painting, building industry enterprises deliver various elements and parts (window and door units, built-in equipment, baseboards, railings, balcony walls, radiators, pipes, and so on) to construction sites already painted or prepared for final painting.


Svrzek, V. Maliarnye i khudozhestvenno-dekorativnye raboty, 4th ed. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from Czech.)
Bogdanov, P. F., and E. S. Zhgun. Zagotovka maliarnykh sostavov v tsentralizovannykh masterskikh, 2nd ed. Leningrad-Moscow, 1965.
Stroitel’nye normy i pravila. Part 3, sec. V, ch. 13: Otdelochnye pokrytiia stroitel’nykh konstruktsii Moscow, 1969.
Dobrovol’skii, G. N. Kratkii spravochnik maliara-ai’freishchika, 2nd ed. Kiev, 1970.
Surzhanenko, A. E. Dekorativnye maliarnye raboty. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about painting?

A dream about painting may indicate a cover-up in progress. Alternatively, the dream may mean renewal and restoration of the object receiving the paint. The significance of this symbol lies in the reason for painting. The dreamer may be expressing creativity or artistic talent.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


1. the art or process of applying paints to a surface such as canvas, to make a picture or other artistic composition
2. a composition or picture made in this way
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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