History of painting

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The origin of painting is unknown. The first important records of this art are met with in Egypt. Plato who lived centuries before the Christian era wrote that painting had been practiced by the Egyptian for ten thousand years.

According to Pliny the part of painting was introduced into Egypt by Gyges of Lydia who, on seeing his shadow cast by the fire at once drew an outline of himself on the wall with a piece of coal.

For Pliny the great art of painting began in the fifth century BC and its high point came in the fourth century BC. 

The most ancient paintings to be seen today are those upon the wall of the tombs of the Theban Kings. 

Traces of the rude primitive work still remain on the pottery, weapons, and stone implements of the cave-dwellers.

The first aim of the primitive painting was undoubtedly decoration. The second, and perhaps later aim, was by imitating the shapes and colors of men, animals, and the like, to convey an idea of the proportions and characters of such things.

The earliest written Greek records of color, in the poetry of Alemaeon of Croton in 5th century BC, dwell on the antithesis between black and white or darkness and light.

An outline of a cave-bear or a mammoth was perhaps the cave-dweller's way of telling his fellows what monsters he had slain. We may assume that it was pictorial record, primitive picture-written history.

When man lived in caves he painted on bare rock surfaces with simple earth colors. The antiquity of such rock paintings goes back some 30,000 years.

The oldest rock painting found in southwestern Europe are sometimes located far from the opening of the caves. Mesolithic and later paintings are on the other hand found generally on the ceiling and walls of the semi-open rock shelters.
History of painting