Western Art History Timeline

By Carm21
  • 28,000 BCE

    Woman from Willendorf - Prehistoric - 28000 BCE to 25000 BCE

    Woman from Willendorf - Prehistoric - 28000 BCE to 25000 BCE
    This sculpted figure is believed to be the symbol of fertility. There is speculation that the paleolithic sculptor who created it intended for it to be mobile; people in prehistoric times were nomadic and tend to travel often, so creating a small figurine to be convenient and portable indicated its importance to them. This ultimately presents an idea that paleolithic people had an awareness to the importance of women. Currently, this artwork is one of the oldest female human form in history.
  • 15,000 BCE

    Lascaux Caves - Prehistoric - 15000 BCE

    Lascaux Caves - Prehistoric - 15000 BCE
    Founded in southwestern France, the Lascaux Caves consists of paintings of interactions between large animals, human figures, and abstract symbols. It is theorized that people drew on caves as a ritual to over power their prey and ensure a successful hunt. Another theory was to communicate their narratives, as there was no written language. Either way, the caves exist as proof of people learning to revere wildlife, as well as learning to incorporate order through tactical ways to hunt.
  • 3300 BCE

    The Warka Vase - Ancient Mesopotamia - 3300 BCE to 3000 BCE

    The Warka Vase - Ancient Mesopotamia - 3300 BCE to 3000 BCE
    Discovered at the ancient city of Uruk (present-day southern Iraq), the Warka Vase depicts four different registers. It allows people to capture a glimpse of life within ancient Mesopotamia, with the illustration of the revered Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the domestication of agriculture, sacracy of offerings, and worship towards Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war. Overall, the Warka Vase was a way for people to use art in order to illustrate social hierarchy in Mesopotamia.
  • 3200 BCE

    Narmer Palette - Ancient Egypt - 3200 BCE to 3000 BCE

    Narmer Palette - Ancient Egypt - 3200 BCE to 3000 BCE
    The Narmer Palette is a relief that is believed to present the unification between Upper and Lower Egypt. By including the image of king Narmer in the palette, viewers get the sense that this ruler united the two lands. There is also inscriptions and illustrations of abstract figures and creatures present. This was intended to further Narmer's position as king in the social strata of the Egyptian society. By depicting king Narmer in this way, the palette successfully highlights political power.
  • 3000 BCE

    Stonehenge - Druids - Prehistoric - 3000 BCE to 1500 BCE

    Stonehenge - Druids - Prehistoric - 3000 BCE to 1500 BCE
    Stonehenge is a famous landmark founded at the Salisbury Plain of Wiltshire, England. It is believed that Celtic high priests, otherwise known as Druids, are responsible for the construction of the Stonehenge. Though people do not know what this area was specifically created for, some speculate that it was either a calendar or a burial site. Stonehenge is mostly recognized for its unique process of creation, and remains as an architecturally advanced monument from the Neolithic ages.
  • 2600 BCE

    Lyre of Ur - Ancient Mesopotamia - 2600 BCE to 2500 BCE

    Lyre of Ur - Ancient Mesopotamia - 2600 BCE to 2500 BCE
    The Lyre of Ur is one of the oldest known string instrument that originated from ancient Mesopotamia. This instrument is a boxed lyre, meant to be played in an upright position. At the front of the lyre are scenes depicting animals and deities, ultimately illustrating the early times in Mesopotamia. Intricate decorations and rich materials also indicates its quality to royalties. Since lyres have been found within tombs, it is believed that these instruments were used within burial ceremonies.
  • 2558 BCE

    Great Sphinx of Giza - Ancient Egypt - 2558 BCE to 2532 BCE

    Great Sphinx of Giza - Ancient Egypt - 2558 BCE to 2532 BCE
    The Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the world's largest sculpture made from one colossal stone, which features a lion's body with a human head wearing an Egyptian royal headdress. It is said that the Great Sphinx was built in honor of the pharaoh Khafra. Although Egyptian hieroglyphs are considered one of the earliest form of writing system, interestingly enough, the Great Sphinx is one of the few creations from ancient Egypt with no inscriptions or writings on its surface.
  • 2254 BCE

    The Stele of Naram-Sin - Ancient Mesopotamia - 2254 BCE to 2218 BCE

    The Stele of Naram-Sin - Ancient Mesopotamia - 2254 BCE to 2218 BCE
    The Stele of Naram-Sin is a relief that illustrates the tale of the victory King Naram-Sin leads with his army against the mountain people. The careful composition and representation of the figures also help emphasize their roles. King Naram-Sin, as an example, stands at the top of the mountain, enlarged and presented in a godly way with his bull-like helmet over the smaller figures underneath. With intricate symbolization, this piece symbolizes the strata of power the Akkadian army withholds.
  • 2000 BCE

    The Kaaba - Abraham (Ibrahim) and Ismail - Islamic - 2000 BCE

    The Kaaba - Abraham (Ibrahim) and Ismail - Islamic - 2000 BCE
    Located in Mecca, the city of Saudi Arabia, is the Kaaba. It is the sacred and holiest site of the Muslims, and is the object and direction (Qibla) of where they would pray. The Kaaba is a large cube covered in silk cloth. It is not the object Muslims would pray; rather, believers view the Kaaba as a metaphorical space where God resides. The Kaaba is an influential architecture that has drawn millions of people to it through the pilgrimage (Hajj), that still currently exists in the 21st century.
  • 1264 BCE

    Abu Simbel Temples - Ramses II - Ancient Egypt - 1264 BCE to 1244 BCE

    Abu Simbel Temples - Ramses II - Ancient Egypt - 1264 BCE to 1244 BCE
    Built by King Ramses II, the two temples of Abu Simbel resides in southern Egypt. It is said its purpose of the creation of the Abu Simbel Temples and their statues was to impress Egypt's neighbors, as well as fortify their belief in religion. As important as this sacred site was, the construction of the Aswan Dam in Egypt (1960's) would have led to the submergence of the two temples. With international donations, campaigns, and organizations, there was a safe relocation of the sacred temples.
  • 845 BCE

    Hosios Loukas - Byzantine - 945 AD to 953 AD

    Hosios Loukas - Byzantine - 945 AD to 953 AD
    The Hosios Loukas is an important monastery to recognize, as it was a part of the Byzantine era. The creation of this building was amidst a period where people were extremely focused on the creation of architectures. With the help of wealthy patrons, there were many commissions to the creation of churches, with decorations like mosaics, carvings, and other ornaments. Like the Hosios Loukas, churches were all created with the shape a dome in mind, along with vast amounts of artworks on them.
  • 685 BCE

    The Dome of the Rock - Abd al-Malik - Islamic - 685 CE to 691 CE

    The Dome of the Rock - Abd al-Malik - Islamic - 685 CE to 691 CE
    Located at Temple Mount, Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock is a shrine. This site is important as it holds ancient inscriptions and stories. The designs of this building include blue ceramic tiles (added by the Ottomans), marble, beautiful mosaics that depict heaven, and of course, a golden dome. It closely follows Byzantine style, since it was made near that area and time. It is said that the purpose of the site is to commemorate Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Al Aqsa Mosque (Temple Mount).
  • 460 BCE

    Riace Warriors - Myron/Alkamenes - Ancient Greece - 460 BCE to 450 BCE

    Riace Warriors - Myron/Alkamenes - Ancient Greece - 460 BCE to 450 BCE
    The Riace Warriors are two life-sized bronze statues, originating from a period between the archaic Greek style and early classical Greek style. Both sculptures depict an interesting relationship between the presentation of a naturalized and idealized human anatomy. By creating these life sized artworks, the artist Myron and/or Alkamenes managed to convey a transition of their idealistic and societal desire of the representation of mankind.
  • 230 BCE

    Dying Gaul - Epigonus - Ancient Rome - 230 BCE to 220 BCE

    Dying Gaul - Epigonus - Ancient Rome - 230 BCE to 220 BCE
    The Dying Gaul is also known as The Dying Gladiator. It is an ancient Roman sculpture that has been believed to represent the last attempt of a heroic act of a noble whom has fallen. The intricate details of this statue places a further emphasis on the evolution of art from learning from the Greeks, and themselves. The realistic form of the figure, as well as its contorted expression of sadness, anger, and even of concentration, furthers the knowledge of the skilled artisans in this era.
  • 190 BCE

    Winged Victory of Samothrace - Pythokritos - Ancient Greece - 200 BCE to 190 BCE

    Winged Victory of Samothrace - Pythokritos - Ancient Greece - 200 BCE to 190 BCE
    Also known as the Nike of Samothrace, this marble sculpture was created the to honor goddess Nike, and to have it as an embodiment of victory in war. This famous eight foot high Hellenistic figure is also important as it is not a Roman copy, but rather one of the few sculptures that have survived as an original Greek sculpture. This special commemoration of the ancient goddess and their victory still stands today, presented to millions of people in Paris, Musee du Louvre.
  • 110 BCE

    The Orator - Ancient Rome - 110 BCE to 90 BCE

    The Orator - Ancient Rome - 110 BCE to 90 BCE
    The Orator is a life-sized bronze statue of an adult male later identified as Aulus Metellas (or Aule Mettle in Etrusian) from the inscriptions behind the figure. Judging from his attire, we can tell that the Orator is a magistrate. The contrapposto pose and the expression may also indicate that it was intended to be an honorary statue, or that may also be for public viewing. If so, it is important to note that this sculpture would have been used to present political order in the Roman society.
  • 42 BCE

    Laocoon and His Sons - Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus of Rhodes - Ancient Greece - 42 BCE to 20 BCE

    Laocoon and His Sons - Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus of Rhodes - Ancient Greece - 42 BCE to 20 BCE
    This ancient sculpture is a copy of a bronze model; it is made from seven interlocking pieces of marble, ultimately presenting a complex scene for viewers to witness. This piece depicts three figures, whom are attacked by a large sea serpent. The most notable feature of this is the facial expressions and movement of the bodies. The pure intensity of the figure's expressions and the movement of bodies would later influence Michelangelo, as well as the future Baroque and Neoclassical sculptures.
  • 9 BCE

    Gemma Augustea - Dioscurides - Ancient Rome - 9 CE to 12 CE

    Gemma Augustea - Dioscurides - Ancient Rome - 9 CE to 12 CE
    The Gemma Augustea is a relief that is separated into two registers. Upon first glance, the first figure that is noticeable is the king, Augustus. Augustus is a key element in this relief as he is centered and accompanied with symbols of power and divinity. The lower register is an illustration of Roman soldiers conquering and taking control. Both registers help depict Augustus's accomplishments, the power of Rome, hopes of succession, and connections to the gods and goddesses.
  • 111

    Cathedral of St. James - Romanesque - 111

    Cathedral of St. James - Romanesque - 111
    One of the most reputable cathedrals is of St. James; it's also apostle Jame's burial site. The Cathedral of St James was created with the pilgrimage in mind. It had used the early basilica plan; there were naves for priests, aisles for ceremonies, side chapels for relics, and much more. Its material also provided security from nature and good auditory sounds for monks. The careful construction of the building is clearly seen, all for the sake of people to learn to become good Christians.
  • 532

    The Church of Hagia Sophia - Byzantine - 532 to 537

    The Church of Hagia Sophia - Byzantine - 532 to 537
    The Church of Hagia Sophia was originally built/rebuilt by the ruler Justinian, whom wanted to use this building as a representation of assertion of power. The church was the largest innovative architecture at the time, and had also served as a center for religion. In the art within the church, there is a concentration on the heavenly realm, which then served as a sort of spiritual gate. This monument is important as it was the Byzantine political, social, and religious representation of power.
  • 1130

    The Last Judgement - Gislebertus - Romanesque - 1130

    The Last Judgement - Gislebertus - Romanesque - 1130
    The Last Judgement features the second coming of Jesus Christ, surrounded by many figures (human and non-human) to go through Judgement. This work is mostly noted for its intricate designs and expressions of its figures, as well as its architecture. Jesus, for example, is one of the most notable figures in this piece as he is frontal, centered, enlarged, intricately designed, and most divine. The Last Judgement is an important artwork as it was created for those who were literate and illiterate.
  • 1140

    The Church of Saint-Denis - Gothic - 1140 to 1144

    The Church of Saint-Denis - Gothic - 1140 to 1144
    This church is unique as it was the birthplace of Gothic style buildings. It enabled a larger space for light and color from stained glass, which is different from its Romanesque predecessor. Key points of this building's architecture include pointed arches and ribbed vaults; it redirects the thrust of weight, so that the interior is much more larger. Flying buttresses were also implemented to enable thinner walls and windows. Its innovative design influenced future architectural constructions.
  • 1180

    Chasse with the Crucifixion and Christ in Majesty - Romanesque - 1180 to 1190

    Chasse with the Crucifixion and Christ in Majesty -  Romanesque - 1180 to 1190
    A relic is an object of what a holy person had touched, and a reliquary if a container for those holy relics. Since relics are extremely sacred, it was only appropriate to enshrine it in precious crafts. The Chasse with the Crucifixion and Christ his Majesty is made of copper over a wooden core. It's detailed engravings and paints of Jesus Christ on the exterior help further the sacracy of this item. Specifically, this reliquary is rectangular shaped and depicts different scenes of Jesus's life.
  • 1194

    Chartres Cathedral - Gothic - 1194 to 1220

    Chartres Cathedral - Gothic - 1194 to 1220
    One of the many gothic architectures was the Chartres Cathedral. This church had many designs to it, like the statues that represent royal families (jamb sculptures), flying buttresses, ribbed vaults, rose windows, lancets, and thinner walls and windows. Compared to Romanesque churches, its' interior enabled a larger space for many things like artworks. It's important to also know that there was a shift from education towards pilgrimage, which subsequently reflected in the church's architecture.
  • 1310

    Virgin and Child Enthroned - Giotto di Bondone - Gothic - 1310

    Virgin and Child Enthroned - Giotto di Bondone - Gothic - 1310
    The painting of the Virgin and Child Enthroned depicts a scene of Virgin Mary holding Child Christ, surrounded by saints and angels. Upon inspection, there is careful composition of the figures, and a great deal of symmetry. Architecture is also important as it serves as a seat and background to the important figures of Virgin Mary and Child Jesus. The reflection of architecture and religion is important as it also brings attention to what is important and what creates balance in our lives.
  • 1315

    Harrowing of Hell - Byzantine - 1315 to 1321

    Harrowing of Hell - Byzantine - 1315 to 1321
    The Harrowing of hell portrays the theme of resurrection and redemption. After the defeat of Satan in hell, Jesus resurrects both Adam and Eve as he reaches out to them equally. Byzantine frescoes commonly draw their images from their vision of a spiritual realm. This is depicted through the unrealistic, dramatic figures, and the idealistic space/realm in the painting. This piece would ultimately serve as a reminder for viewers of the traditional Christian belief of life everlasting.
  • 1446

    David - Donatello di Niccolo di Betto Bardi - Renaissance - 1446 to 1460

    David - Donatello di Niccolo di Betto Bardi - Renaissance - 1446 to 1460
    Donatello's David is a life sized bronze sculpture that depicts the biblical story of David and Goliath. Upon inspection, we will see that the sculpture is in a contrapasso pose; there is naturalism and realism displayed. This is the first of the three famous representations of David, and is also depicted as the youngest and more intimate and sensual. This biblical story and representation of David is important as it was used as a metaphor for Florence's political relationship with Milan.
  • 1495

    The Last Supper - Leonardo da Vinci - Renaissance - 1495 to 1498

    The Last Supper - Leonardo da Vinci - Renaissance - 1495 to 1498
    This painting depicts one of the most famous scenes between Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples; it is in this painting where Judas is exposed for his betrayal towards Christ. Notable traits to know about the painting is of the dramatized characters and the paintings, and its composition. The drama that is portrayed breathes life into the painting; through realistic expressions and movements of the body, the painting's story was clearly expressed in the famous period of the high renaissance.
  • 1500

    Queen Mother Pendant - Africa - 1500

    Queen Mother Pendant - Africa - 1500
    The Queen Mother Pendant Mask, the Iyoba, is made of ivory, iron, and copper in dedication to Esigie's mother, Idia. Surrounding the mask is the Portuguese and mudfish. The alterations between these two symbols is important as they had helped Esigie with the expansion of the kingdom and in trade. Mudfish are seen to inhabit two realms; Esigie is present as the mediator between the human and divine realm. Not only was the mask created for his mother, but it also represents Esigie's power.
  • 1500

    Memorial Head of an Oba - Africa - 1500 to 1599

    Memorial Head of an Oba - Africa - 1500 to 1599
    The Memorial Head of an Oba (King) is founded in Nigeria, Court of Benin. This brass sculpture depicts how an ideal king would look like, with intricate details like beads and clothing on it. This sculpture is made from the lost wax-casting technique, and has a circular opening. This opening is meant to hold an elephant's tusk. This kind of sculpture is important as it would be a part of an altar for honoring ancestors. In doing so, they would also get to affirm their social identity.
  • 1501

    David - Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni - Renaissance - 1501 to 1504

    David - Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni - Renaissance - 1501 to 1504
    Michelangelo's David is a life sized marble statue. The subject is based on the biblical tale of David and the Goliath. Initially, David was intended to be seen from the ground; patrons originally wanted David to be placed on a building top look up at. But after witnessing its calm beauty, David was placed in the city square. Due to Michelangelo's exceptional knowledge of the human anatomy, he clearly presents a realistic form of David, from movements to intricate expressions.
  • The Calling of St. Matthew - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Baroque - 1599 to 1600

    The Calling of St. Matthew - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Baroque - 1599 to 1600
    Founded in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, the painting depicts a scene of Jesus Christ 'calling' for Matthew as his soon to be apostle. Caravaggio's artistic technique is shown here through the usage of lighting and composition. The composition allows viewers to form meaning into the painting, as the tenebrism allows for certain figures to be highlighted. This painting is important as there is no idealized setting; it is more realistic and humanized unlike other religious works.
  • St. Peter's Baldachin - Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Baroque - 1623 to 1634

    St. Peter's Baldachin - Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Baroque - 1623 to 1634
    Also known as St. Peter's Baldacchino, this bronzed canopy is an altar of the church, and also marks as the burial site of St. Peter. This is important as St. Peter was believed to be seen as the first Pope under the command of Jesus Christ. Special designs were made to be incorporated into the baldacchino for him, such as the spiral columns, laurel leaf and honey bees, the orb and the cross. Each of these designs hold a meaning relating to St. Peter in familial, religious, and political terms.
  • David - Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Baroque - 1623 to 1624

    David - Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Baroque - 1623 to 1624
    David is a life sized marble statue. Unlike the other two famous depictions of David, sculptures created by Donatello and Michelangelo, Bernini's David is much more realistic. There is a dynamic pose to the figure, which creates the illusion of movement. It's tense and concentrated expression makes the viewer emotionally and physically involved. David's intense expression, face and body structure, is the core to baroque art as it presents theatrical and sensual traits that affects us even now.
  • Taj Mahal - Shah-Jahan - Islamic - 1632 to 1653

    Taj Mahal - Shah-Jahan - Islamic - 1632 to 1653
    The Taj Mahal is a white-marbled structure surrounded by four minarets. It was originally built as a resting place for the ruler Shah-Jahan's wife. Over years of construction, this site had produced many exceptional designs. This mausoleum is famous for its symmetry, where its buildings and designs would come together to create a perfect artistic and architectural balance.
  • Twin Figures - Africa - 1700

    Twin Figures  - Africa - 1700
    Otherwise known as the Ere Ibeji, the Twin Figures are wooden figures. These sculptures are commissioned and care for by a twin or the mother of the twin(s). The Yoruba peoples have the highest rates of birthing twins, so their births are considered lucky and are revered. If one or both of the twins pass away at childbirth, then parents will find a carver to make a figure to make space for the deceased spirit to dwell. This is important as it represents hope for prosperity in the future.