References; Materials of the Artist by Doerner, A New World History of Art by Cheney,
Art Through the Ages by Helen Gardner, Artists Handbook by Ralph Mayer, Artist's Pigments by Robert Feller, History of Art by Tudor, Lives of the Artist by Vasari,
History of World Art -1958, by Everard Upjohn, Columbia University,
The Story of Modern Art, 1941- Cheney.
PIGMENTS, PAINTING, SCULPTURE IN B/C HISTORY, MEDITERRANEAN CIVILIZATIONS
ONE MILLION B/C, People were sparsely covering the earth, moving in tribes and gathering where important resources were found, Weapons were important, hard flint was found while digging caves in feldspar and clay, people gathered in these areas, England, France, Egypt and Central Africa. Over a hundred thousand people were walking around at any one time. Salt was found and traded. Egypt was settled from the top with the Nubian's coming over the mountains from Central Africa and the salt traders moving up to lush cool land on the upper Nile.
100,000 B/C, Rivers were important too, people found the Niger River with it's perfect weather. Have you ever heard of Timbuktu? There it is in the middle of Africa. The Congo River was settled, and Lake Victoria must have been "The Garden of Eden", it connected to the Upper Nile.
The Tigris and Euphrates River Valley drew a crowd, as well as India's Indus and Ganges Rivers. The Mekong and the Thailand region got it's share too, but inland China got more, with the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers.
30,000 B/C, A lot of people came and went by now, over thirty six billion people so far, all the good places were occupied by somebody.
10,000 B/C, Man had settled down to farming, raising animals, and having pets and kids.
8000 B/C, Egypt and China were working metal, China had pottery happening also, both places are into mining, for tools, weapons and pigments. When the fighting is done artists are revered, important people like to have nice things and their willing to pay for them.
6000 B/C, Eskimo's Northwest of the Hudson Bay had copper fish hooks ground from native glacial copper.
There's enough people in each area now to develop cultures, we'll start with Egypt, the Mediterranean, and include the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, since they had the highest developed cultures at the time.
8000 B/C, EGYPT The Nile flooded annually and left behind fertile farm land for crops, water wheels moved water around since there was no rain. Early surveying established boundaries, since the Nile left no landmarks. On the Lower Nile where there were no trees, reeds made forms, to be filled with clay as building columns. Above the 6th cataract, boats traveled up and down, to Lake Albert and into Lake Victoria. The cataracts separated groups of people and Egypt had full control of the Nile below the 1st cataract.
5000 B/C, An estimated 500,000 people were alive in Egypt, by now they were casting copper and mining these minerals; gold, silver, agate, carnelian, chrysoprase, jasper, rock crystal, turquoise, olivine, chrysocolla, green feldspar, jade, green fluorite, malachite, azurite, galena, tin, copper, garnet, cuprite, hematite and lapis lazuli. This list grows in later periods of Egyptian history. They were the world's greatest miners, when they found a vein they followed it to the end. There is no tin to be found in Egypt today.
4000 B/C, Egypt, Iran and Iraq are casting gold, silver and bronze. Egypt heated gypsum to make quick-lime plaster of Paris, for walls and murals. An iron-nickel knife was found in a pyramid, possibly made from a meteorite.
3500 B/C, Upper and Lower Egypt are joined together, they were painting with water based mediums of gum, casein and lime. Alum was used in dying cotton and hardening lime cement.
3000 B/C, An Egyptian priest named Manetho, listed the rulers of Egypt. Big government must have started around 5000 B/C in Thebes. The III Dynasty's capitol was in Memphis, and by than a thousand years of mastabas's had been built, preceding the pyramids built in 3000 B/C. The Great Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza are a short distance away. The Sphinx was a portrait of Pharaoh Khafra of the IV Dynasty, the entrance passage pointed to Polaris, it was 479' high, covered with smooth polished marble, which the Roman's later took for their own buildings, An underground passage way connected the Sphinx to the Pyramid. No human structures are older then the mastaba tombs of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.
2500 B/C, Egypt's Old Kingdom had frescoes of miners, smelters, farmers and their crops, musicians, portraits, the "good life". Men were painted red-brown and the woman were all fair skinned, both had black or blond hair. Frescoes were painted on flat walls or on bas-relief, the support was quick lime plaster. Their fresco pigments were calcined tin, which fired from white to yellow, orange, red and magenta. They also had madder root and karmes to deepen the tin's magenta. Another yellow was realgar, a native crystal compound of arsenic di-sulfite, and native orpimant arsenic for the orange and red transparent colors, Yellow to brown, and yellow to red were the earth ochers. Light green was crushed amazonite, dark green was crushed malachite. Other crushed ores, were the ultramarine-cyan-side azurite, and the ancient true blue, ultramarine. Sculpture's were done on limestone, marble, granite, basalt, quartz and diorite. All done in the perfect, lifelike, "high art" technique. Most of them were painted, like everything else in Egypt.
The Egyptians were big time shipbuilders in the Old Kingdom which ended with Pepy II of the VI Dynasty, 2350 B/C, Art starts going downhill as disruptive changes start taking place.
2000 B/C EGYPT, MIDDLE KINGDOM, Nubia produced one thousand tons of gold for Egypt.
2160-1785 B/C, The Middle Kingdom of the XI-XII Dynasties were a feudal system set up by the kings of Thebes. Art declined into chaos. The tombs were moved up river to the cliffs of Beni Hasan.
1580 B/C, EGYPT, The Empire or New Kingdom, waged war and conquered from Nubia to Mesopotamia. The XVIII Dynasty with Ikhnaton would change from polytheism to monotheism, with Ammon as their chief god. The XX Dynasty was losing power and the Assyrian Kings captured the land. Zinc is smelted from lead.
1300 B/C, EGYPT, included Lake Moeris at the outside, twenty five miles from Memphis. Alexandria was just east of the last tributary of the Nile.
King Tutankhamen of the XVIII Dynasty had smelted iron tools, "high art" was back for a short time, they produced a lifelike 240 pound gold casting of him for his inner coffin. During this period the Egyptians were friendly toward the Greeks and influenced their architecture.
663-525 B/C, The Saite period was named for the new capitol in Sais, in the Nile delta, the XXVI Dynasty drove out the Semitic invaders, only to fall later to the Ptolemies, and than Rome.
500 B/C, EGYPT, has expanded to include a new shrine to the god Ammon, in the city of Ammonium, 200 miles east of Lake Moeris, in the middle of the Qattara Depression, 436' below sea level. Here is mined the ammonia gum and salt to supply the ancient world with a new medium, water based wax paint later called cera colla. Egypt has now expanded 300 miles east of Memphis. It is now 20% bigger then China in this age of Confucius. Byzantium was half the size of the peninsula of Italy and one quarter the size of Egypt.
7000 B/C, AEGEAN, Crete is the lost and found department of the Mediterranean. The current circled Crete and dropped off lost sailors. These settlers exported wine and olive oil, became sea traders and started the Minoan Empire.
6500 B/C, Flint and copper was mined at Catal Huyuk, in Asia Minor, a Turkish culture.
4000 B/C, MINOAN, Aegean Sea, the Pre-Crete. The Crete civilization was awesome. The two, three or four storied Palace of Cnossus had running water, flush toilets, and the original underground beehive corbel vault, the first curved ceiling.
2000 B/C, Homer said there were ninety cities on this little unfortified island during this peak, their paintings were similar in tone to Egypt's, including the front facing eyes on profile heads. There were no large sculptures to be found on Crete. Crete's frescoes had better shading then Egypt's, they also had 3/4 views of people in everyday scenes. Their ceramic fired paint was iron based.
By this year in history, bronze was being made all over the Mediterranean.
1000 B/C, MINOA, Red lips and eye shadow were reflecting taste's from Egypt. Woman wore bare breasted fashions, which is why probably no painting examples are to be found, they were all destroyed, as being pagan, or just stolen.
The Sumerian's taught the Minoan's how to smelt bronze from copper and tin. Lead and sandaraca (sandracca)was the protective paint. Homer mentions a red cart he saw in a courtyard, lead red.
The later Mycenaean Age on the mainland was only the afterglow of this great culture.
7000 B/C, PRE-JERICHO was big in the salt trade at the north end of the Dead Sea.
2000 B/C, PHOENICIA was on the coast between Egypt and Mesopotamia, they were merchants and had discovered how to extract silver from lead.
1200 B/C, PHOENICIA was growing into a world power via trading with it.
The oldest paints came from the oldest civilizations, they all made one kind of paint or another. Most of the known world was traveled by sea, from Africa to England to Japan. These world travelers and traders worked with the best of everything, always on the cutting edge. Painting and protecting their boats was very important. Alcohol paints were the oldest and most used, sandaraca (sandracca) mixed with lead paint and castor oil was best for their boats. They got the materials from Morocco in north Africa.
Lead corrodes with acids and forms oxides, when heated they turn from white to yellow, to orange and then red. They painted their ships of commerce this bright red and the whole world looked forward to seeing them arrive.
"Eric the Red" had a red boat and red hair.
1100 B/C, Phoenician's built City-states at their ports of call, Gades was at the entrance to the Mediterranean, other City States were in the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Carthage, Oea [between Cartage and Egypt], and their home port of Tyre, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, now called Beirut.
700 B/C, Phoenicia, all the known world was shared by the Greek, Phoenicia, Etruscan and the Assyrian Empires.
600 B/C, Phoenician Empire became part of the New Babylonian Empire, reaching to the Persian Gulf, their empire was over.
2000 B/C, MYCENAEANS, from the city in Argous State on Peloponnesus Island, Pre-Greek, were a rich culture for the last thousand years, as Homer said, over a ton of gold was retrieved from the Heinrich Schliemann excavations. He was a merchant for the color indigo from India.
1500 B/C, The ETRUSCAN and GREEK civilizations formed about this time, equal to the EGYPTIAN MIDDLE EMPIRE, the XII Dynasty. The Etruscans used lead, iron, mercury, cobalt and arsenic colors, and the copper frits from Egypt. Turpentine, mastic, balsams, egg, wax and lime were the mediums for painting, also sandaraca from Morocco. By the time Christ was born, Romans were great painters and the Greeks would be great sculptures. The Greeks were probably great painters also, but no paintings or murals survived. Pompeii and Herculaneum murals in Italy were saved by the Vesuvius eruption in A/D 79.
1100 B/C, PELOPONNESUS, the seat of this early Mycenaean, Pre-Crete civilization, is the large land that forms the southern end of the Greek peninsula. The Dorian, Ionian, and Aiolian tribes that begin occupying Peloponnesus will form the Greek civilization, and fight the Trojan War. Art diminishes and the first "Dark Age" period was upon us, artisans were working in limestone, marble and diorite, an igneous rock of plagioclase feldspar and hornblende. Their not getting much support.
1000 B/C, PELOPONNESUS Dark Ages, Homer writes the Iliad and the Odyssey, and unites the people with stories about they're great god's.
All art is only abstract, the work of children who lived through the wars. Geometric forms similar to our post war abstract modern art, painting in general is on a downhill slide after the Mycenaean Age, which was also declining at the end. Very little art is to be found from this "Dark Age period of Painting" until 525 B/C., and there only cartoon drawings without shadows, like the Egyptians with out the rigorous formality of positions. Perhaps this is a great step forward.
900 B/C, GREECE is smelting bronze, It's now all one big happy, united peninsula. :)
700 B/C, Clay plate ceramics of mining at Corinth, Greece are found.
600 B/C, The Temple of Hara, the Heraeum at Olympia, had wood columns which were replaced by stone in the Doric order. In Delphi, Greece, their sculptures were stiff with heavy Egyptian influence. I went there in 1963 to see the theater stadium, it was about 30 seat steps high, half way around a single tennis court in size. It was way out of the way and everything was an iron red-tan color.
580 B/C, Coreyra, early Corfu, at the top of the Ionian Island's chain, bas-reliefs with Egyptian influence. The "Youth from Attica" sculpture is the stiff "Apolos", or Greek-Egyptian type style.
550 B/C, the "Hera of Samos" looks as if it were cut from a tree, very massive.
500 B/C, Cretan sculpture is more advanced with perfect lifelike figures.
500 B/C, Aegina, the large island near Athens, is reaching the peak in sculpturing, good movement and good proportions.
500 B/C, Berlin has a ceramic jug with realistic stylized drawing that is better then the Greeks work.
470 B/C, Delphi bronze are life size, stiff and close to realistic. The Persian War's are over and Greece starts it's rebuilding. They will be the next rulers of the Persian Empire.
460 B/C, Percles is in power, the second Temple of Hera is built at Paestum, it's 80' wide and it's also called the Temple of Posidon. Located in southern Italy, it looks like an early Parthenon, Doric in style, with wax painted blue and red on at least the moldings. The other order of architecture to emerge from the "dark Ages" is Ionic, a more elaborate and decorated style, which was popular on the more advanced Aegean Islands.
"Zeus" the poured bronze sculpture was larger then life and perfect. They told me in Greece it was really a sculpture of Posidon and probably stolen from Crete. Myron, made realisticly perfect bronzes as seen from the Roman copy of "The Discus Thrower".
440 B/C, Doric Parthenon, 101' wide, 228' long, created by the Greek architects Ictinus and Callicrates, it was Athena's Temple, built on the highest of Athens three hills. It was made from the best pentelic marble and Phidias was the master sculpture. Polygnotus was their greatest painter, working in wax and mastic. All of his paintings have vanished. Polyclitus proportioned the body seven heads high, close but no cigar.
410 B/C, Ionic Erechtheum, straight fluted pillars on the back and the Porch of the Maidens in front.
356 B/C, ALEXANDER'S EMPIRE. Macedon or Macedonia was just north of and almost as big in 450 B/C, as all of Greece, of which he unified most of in his conquests.
His Empire was soo big, how big you say? It started across from the heal of Italy, the Etruscans were the third largest land holding empire at that time, from that point on to India, including Egypt, that's big. It combined the Aegean, Egyptian, and Phoenician Cultures, and the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia to the end of the Tigris-Euphrates in the Persian Gulf. Than, that distance again to the Indian cultures, up to and including the Indus River. This was too big to control and it ended after only thirteen years.
323 B/C, MACEDONIA-GREECE, Aristotle, pupil of Plato, the world of science, author of the "Republic" and "The Poetics", tutor to Alexander and inventor of his glass diving bell.
300 B/C, Eratosthenes measured accurately the size of the earth. Euclid developed his theorems of geometry and Archimedes discovered the principle of specific gravity.
The Corinthian capitol was designed for the Temple of Apollo at Bassae. Three sculptors were famous at this time, Praxiteles, Scopas and Lysippus, who was a court portraitists for Alexander the Great. Lysippus changed Polyclitus's body-head ratio from 1:7, to 1:8. I find perfect to be, adding a quarter head where the neck is and subtracting it from the lower torso, that puts the center of the body one quarter head above the top of the legs space. The center of the body is at the bend line NOT the space between the legs.
200 B/C, The "Victory of Samothrace" was reconstructed from pieces. The "Dying Gaul" and "Dead Persian" by Pergamum in 225 B/C, and the "Aphrodite of Melos" are all fine examples of Hellenistic sculpture. Great sculpture under Attalus I, thus forming the first school of Pergamum.
100 B/C, The Second School of Pergamum under Eumenes II, "The Boy With a Goose" by Boethus, marble, 2'9" high is "perfect high art", it's the second time man has reached this level of sculpture, absolute control of the medium and complete understanding of anatomy. Boethus may have come from the workshops in Alexandria, which Alexander helped create. The next time this peak of perfection will be reached is in the 15th and 16th centuries, with Michelangelo the sculpture and Signorelli the painter and than Bernini. They must have had some great paintings in 100 B/C, but none survived.
MESOPOTAMIA, 7000 B/C to 590 B/C
7000 B/C MESOPOTAMIA, Camps were forming in the Fertile Crescent, 600 miles East of the Mediterranean, by 4000 B/C they were large villages and by 3000 B/C these non-Semitic Sumerian's had city kingdoms, in Babylonia, the area was called Mesopotamia. Their art was on glazed tiles and bas-relief sculptures. Tapestries took the place of paintings.
3000 B/C, MESOPOTAMIA, Mesopotamia has fully developed palaces and mansions, a grain and wool trade, and had developed the first form of writing called, cuneiform. With a single wedge shaped stick they made an entire alphabet and counting system on clay, that's the basis for all Western written alphabets today. The Sumerian's had 200 words for different kinds of sheep. Their art was also based on clay, as stone was as rare as wood. These non-Semitic Sumerians and Semitic Akkadians, were warring people, with the balance of power shifting back and forth in Sumer.
The sculpture was heading to realism in 2400 B/C, it never made it and went downhill after that.
2300 B/C, MESOPOTAMIA, Sumer is conquered by the Arab Semites who start Babylon in 1800 B/C, north of Sumer.
800 B/C, MESOPOTAMIA, bas-relief looks Egyptian with stiff poses and frontal eyes on the profile.
705 B/C, MESOPOTAMIA, The Palace of Sargon, at Khorsabad, was honeycombed with arches and drains, glazed tiles protected unfired clay brick walls. The temple tower was oriented like the pyramids, it was seven stories high with a ramp around the outside, leading to the top. Each level was a different color tile with white at the bottom, than black, scarlet, blue, orange, silver and gold at the top. From the top one could see for twenty miles in each direction, no trees, no hills.
This Sumerian, Assyrian, Palace was fortified and raised sixty feet off the ground, 1140' x 1050'. That's a lot of brick to make and set, and a lot of slaves to do the work. There were no wood beams to be had, so the ceilings were domed brick, the cavities filled in, and a flat roof on top. Great rugs and tapestries covered the walls and floors. Sculpture followed an Oriental and Egyptian line, monsters of stone guarded the entrances. People were stiff as in later Egyptian work. Bas-relief wall sculptures covered the interior walls of important rooms.
Persia ultimately conquered Mesopotamia in 590 B/C.
500 B/C, ETRUNIA, Pre-Roman Etruscan art was influenced by Greek art, mostly humans with simple landscapes and flowers. They used the colors of Egypt but were not as far advanced as Egypt or Crete.
Palermo bas-reliefs are stiff in the Egyptian style. Naples has better drapery, more flowing and less stiffness.
146 B/C, ROME conquers Greece. There was a new king now, that other one third of the Mediterranean, Etrunia, had grown into the Roman Empire. This was the time of Caesar, 44 B/C. They paid big money for the best of the Greek artists to decorate their great vacation paradise, Naples. The other great Mediterranean vacation city was Alexandria, Egypt. Greek artists and Egyptian artists taught school there. Roman artists would come to study and be great artists themselves in a hundred years. 10 B/C, The statue of Agustus from Prima Porta is a good example of great Roman work, after Greece.
100 B/C, HERCULANEUM and POMPEII, high art painting, natural and realistic, fresco figures show solid form without resorting to outlines. Pompeii has a lot of great glue paintings protected by wax, there not encaustic as some historians believe. Art will become scarce again, destroyed for the second Dark Age of painting after the Vesuvius eruption in A/D 79, until it's resurrected by Cimabue, in A/D 1300, Giotto, Duccio and finally, the great Masaccio, a hundred years later in 1420. Twelve hundred years of art work was destroyed by the Iconoclasts of A/D 842.
A/D 100, Roman vaulted architecture, the Pantheon and Coliseum. The Roman Empire includes from England to Morocco, over to Egypt, Mesopotamia, Armenia and up to Germania.
A/D 200, Baths of Caracalla, high vaulted.
A/D 400, Christianity was an oriental cult in Rome, with "mithrac" the Persian sun god being important, but Christianity prevailed. The Apse Mosaic, Santa Pudenziana, Rome, was fired colored glass of a somber nature, grays, green and umber.
A/D 476, The Last Roman Emperors, are displaced by German soldiers. The Han Empire of China is breaking up. India is being sacked by nomadic invaders. Everything was in regression except East Rome, the Byzantine Empire with their mosaics, wax and mastic and egg painting. They would be the premier artists until Giotto came aboard. Two art periods arose, one before the Iconoclastic Controversy which destroyed most pagan art, and one after the victory of the Pro-image Party in 842. Most of the Byzantine art that remains are mosaics in churches. Byzantine was captured by the Turks in 1453.
A/D 500 CONSTANTINOPLE, Hagia Sophia, four pendentive pillars hold up the dome. A great architectural achievement by Justinian, successor to Rome in the sixth century. This is the First Golden Age of Byzantine, it will end with the Iconoclastic controversy of the ninth century.
A/D 600 ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS, The transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages, still in the second dark age period, art is nowhere yet. The monasteries are the only places any painting is being done, they are the decorated manuscripts that persist for another five hundred years. Painting in books is a little like the Chinese are doing, by painting on scrolls and putting them in boxes.
A/D 700 CONSTANTINOPLE, The Lucca Manuscript describes some little known forms of art, one called "Pictura Translucida". At this time when artists were making paintings more beautiful than ever seen today. They had not only a complete opaque palette, but a compleat transparent palette as well. By todays standards the colors were not as permanent as todays pigments though. They made a halo or face glow by adding reflectance to the surface support.
They, the Byzantines, painted on a shinny tin plate. To give you an idea of how this works, raw sandracca resin can have a yellow transparent color, and when painted on shinny tin give the appearance of gold. Sandracca can be made clear and has a very hard finish. Sandracca uses alcohol, lavender oil and castor oil as it's thinner and plasticsizer to change the painting viscosity.
However this Sandracca resin pitch medium would not mix with resin pitch turpentine mediums, just as another popular medium of the time would not mix with turpentine, Cera Colla. Cera Cola was a wax and ammonia medium that was better suited to painting murals as it was softer and could scratch off a hard surface. This medium is erroneously called encaustic painting, when the ammonia evaporates it leaves behind only the wax, as in encaustic, which is a hot process. The Visuvious paintings were Cera Cola not encaustic.
The turpentine based mediums that were used in Pictura Translucida on tin were before oil was added to paint. This was before Cennini, in the Dark Ages of Greece. Some of these mediums that dissolve in turpentine would also dissolve in alcohol. Wax, would not dissolve in alcohol but would dissolve in turpentine, and so was used with these pitch resin oil varnishes; Levantine Mastic, Chian Mastic, Copal and Amber. Wax imparts the flowing quality to turpentine based paints just as Castor Oil does to Sandracca. These were the mediums used to paint Pictura Translucida pictures on tin mirrors.
I really enjoy the added thrill in planning the choice of painting opaque or transparent passages of color. Whether or not I would work a passage to reflect back light if the light source had it right angle.
Here is a tip if you are going to try painting in this style on a shinny support such as Silver, zinc, tin, aluminum, chrome or silver colored plastic. A mirror will not work as the clear glass has thickness. Treat the unpainted areas as a dark color. Use Opaque white as highlights.
They did have some advantages back than, their lead whites were hand ground thicker and courser so they painted more opaque and dried faster. Also they had their favorite color, Naples Yellow in tints from a cooler green-side pale yellow-brown, to a warmer red-side. Higher calcined antimony lead colors were lightest.
Here are the names and brands of transparent colors I have used with great satisfaction.
Rembrandt Asphaltum, Mussini Burnt Umber, Mussini Burnt Sienna, Blockx Transparent Yellow, Old Holland Indian Yellow-Brown Lake Extra, Old Holland Indian Yellow-Orange Lake Extra, Old Holland Indian Gambage Lake Extra, Rembrandt Rose, Danial Smith Quinacridone Violet, Rembrandt Ultramarine Violet, Liquitex Dioxine Violet, Blockx Ultramarine Blue, Grumbacher Thalo Blue, Rembrandt Blue Green. With these transparent colors it is possible to make the deepest opaque darks.
Another "lost technique" was called "cera colla", which is ammonia and wax emulsified wax paint. Bees wax from the "honey mountain" in Greece, emulsified with ammonia from the city of Ammonium, in Egypt. The Egyptian's painted their walls with it, buff it up and it would radiate reflecting light, passageways would glow with this ammonia and water based wax paint. Casine can be added to this water based medium. Other mediums he talked about were; stic-lac and borax mixed, this made an India water-based paint. Gilding gums, alum, as used in dyeing, egg and wax emulsions, and the exceptional Chios resin paintings. None of these paintings survived either.
Heracluis also wrote about art at this time, he wrote about oil paints, and egg white plus alum, for miniature painting.
A/D 867 CONSTANTINOPLE, Under Basil I in 867, their Second Golden Age starts and the "Dark Ages" are over. So is the Second Golden Age after the capture of Constantinople by the Forth Crusade in 1204. This new Latin kingdom only lasted fifty years or so and left way for the Byzantine Renaissance which produced more mosaics with an even stiffer style and more churches. Their art and architecture did influence Russia and Rome though, because they were just spinning their wheels.
Other parts of the world were doing better, India was traveling at warp speed, also I have a little to say about the Tang period in China.
A/D 960, OTTONIAN, The near end of this period comes with the "Ottonian golden century" 960-1060, under Otto the Great of Germany, painting pictures is resumed, icons on board, but the quality was dismal, Icons continued in Russia until 1600.
A/D 1100, ROMANESQUE, Wall painting are the final stage of Antique art, the "Second Dark Age". The Early Middle Ages has already started. These frescoes were done in a crude cartoon style but lead the way toward the early Gothic paintings. Nowhere near what we left a thousand years previous. Giotto is really the first sunny day in 1300, Italy.
SOUTHERN AND EASTERN ASIA
4000 B/C PERSIA, Later called Iran, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates river, and to the east of it to the Indus River in India. Susa, to the east of the Euphrates, on a tributary of the river, is were the earliest pottery and signs of life were found. Flint, stone and clay, that's what they were made of. As always, natural resources are important to any starting culture.
2700 B/C, PERSIA, is in the Bronze Age and raising horses. The bridle ornaments, weapons and jewelry show an early connection to the Far East. These designs are present up to the ninth century.
900 B/C, The Sanskrit language and the caste system came from an invasion into the area by Aryan people of the North East. These ideas left their mark here and in north India, where they also settled.
750 B/C, The Scyths, or Iranian race, conquered the Cimmerians, north of the Black Sea. The Sarmatians in turn conquered them in the forth century B/C. Their predatory and killing nature lead the Greeks to calling them complete barbarians. Their art is referred to as "Animal-Style Art", creatures of the herd and hunt.
612 B/C, The Medes Scyths destroyed the Assyrian Empire and were in turn destroyed by the Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus.
550 B/C. It included from Lydia south of the Black Sea to the Indus River, Egypt, and the Babylonian Empire. Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius, and Xerxes built that empire. Xerxes's tomb was carved on the cliffs above the Iranian plains, like the Egyptians, only with side view torsos and a fire alter representing their god, Ahura Mazda.
Cyrus had a free standing sarcophagus of stone blocks, seven steps high. The palaces at Susa and Persepolis were much more grand in style, naturally they were built by slaves. The work took one hundred and fifty years and Alexander the Great turned it to rubble. He had the same ideas that Sherman had on his march through our south. Xerxes had an audience hall that could hold ten thousand people, made of sun dried brick 15 feet thick, and a ceiling 60 feet high. The carvings are more realistic than Egypt's, full profiles mostly, the animals show much more action. The palace at Susa had columns with double bulls on top with twice as many flutes as the Greeks would have.
323-250 B/C, The Seleucid period. Alexander destroyed Iran.
200 B/C, Mongolian textiles from graves of this period and Persian rugs of the sixteenth century have similar patterns of twisted, grotesque animals. They wore woven peaked hats with ear flaps and leather pants, appropriate for horse riding on the windy steppes of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea.
250 B/C-A/D 226, The Parthian period, traders of silk between the Romans and the Chinese, money making mongrels.
A/D 226-642, Sassanian Dynasty, there first palace was built at Ctesiphon, Mesopotamia. It was classed as one of the wonders of the world, they also had tombs carved into the cliffs. The artist worked sculpture, metal, textile weaving and architecture, no paintings. The pointed arch was developed and bricks were set with gypsum cement. The carpet was world famous, it was called the "Springtime of Chosroes".
A/D 276-293, Bahram II, developed chain mail armor that would be the rage of Europe a thousand years later.
A/D 570, Mohammed was born in Mecca, taught monotheism and was forced to leave. His arrival at Medina in 662 marks the beginning of the Moslem calendar. Praise be to Allah, Arabia was unified politically. In the eighth century the capitol was moved to Baghdad from Damascus. The mosque was their first concern, built by Byzantium architects who were brought in to do the job right. Towers, called minarets, were erected to call the faithful.
As Sassanian power was overthrown, Islam spread through the land and Iran became a stronghold of Mohammedanism. The ceramic artist and the architect built together in white, yellow blue and rose, from Persia to Turkestan.
A/D 1010, The Book of Kings, illuminated scriptures.
A/D 1258, Baghdad was destroyed by the Mongol Empire, ruled by the Khans. Illustrations combined the Persian and Chinese styles, not much to work with but they were working at it. It's a primitive style.
A/D 1369, Tamerlane of Turkey conquers all, and the Master of Miniatures is painting in Iran, painting legends of the past. He still uses the cartoon line, but he brought illustration up to the level of the calligrapher at least.
Art goes no farther around here so we move over to India with their textiles and carpets.
INDIA AND SOUTHERN ASIA
4000 B/C NEOLITHIC, Pottery and weapons were found at Amri, the first city on the Indus River.
If Ancient India were the face of a clock, the Indus River would be 10:00, Old and New Delhi are at 12:00 and touched by the Ganges River on the other side top right, at 2:00. The Kistna River would be lower east at 4:00, Ceylon is an island about two hundred miles long and one hundred wide at 5:30, the Waghora River is at 9:00 just above the city of Bombay. Civilizations start on the major rivers or islands.
3000 B/C INDUS RIVER, The Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa excavations in the Indus Valley show contact with Mesopotamia, which had fully developed palaces and mansions by now. In Egypt the pyramids at Gizeh have been built, and on Crete the Minoan civilization is in it's top form.
Mohenjo-Daro is a great city also, some thirty acres in size, with streets running North, South, East and West. Houses were made of fired brick of a better quality than Mesopotamia, they had more wood to burn and had hotter kilns. Separate bathrooms in the homes were connected to sewers under the side streets, as tall as a man. In the center of town was a well-fed bathing pool, cleanliness was number one, I like that. Their sculpture was at a high standard, anatomically correct with complete control of the medium, as the Torso from Harappa shows.
These are a phallus-worshiping people with a mother goddess. They had clay toys of animals, not combat symbols. Harappa had 35,000 people by 2300 B/C.
2000 B/C, India cultivated a sap eating insect that secreted an alcohol soluble stick-lac or lac, or shellac paint. By adding borax from Tibet it became a water-soluble permanent paint. Boiling removed the crimson to magenta color, adding alum made it a dye. Madder root made a similar color without the shellac. Colored resins from the sap of trees and boiled roots from as far away as Singapore made red, crimson and yellow. Insects and insect secretions made the brightest and dearest magenta. I think both "Imperial Yellow" and "Mandarin Yellow" were made from Monghyr puree, named after a city in Bengal. Other yellows were made from weld family vines and rhubarb leaves, tea leaves made nice tans. Transparent Cyan Blue was a major cultivated trade product, made from the leaves of a plant they grew. Tapestries and rugs were colored with these dyes. Mordants of alum or other metal bases were used. The Poplar and Tamarisk tree barks, pomegranate husks and grape leaves worked as mordants also, all giving a different color. Cotton and wool textiles and rugs, and dyes for and as pigments were big export products.
Morocco and China used the sap of an alcohol based tree as paint. Malaysia had the best turpentine based dammar mastic, but no one used it, they used the soft copals that were alcohol based. Greece and Italy were going to be happy with Chian or Levantine mastic from the island of Chios.
Egypt had the best linen and cotton, but didn't do rugs or windows;) their pigments were solids not dyes, except for some reds.
1500 B/C, Priests were singing hymns from the "Vedas" and later from the "Brahmanas", and around 1000 B/C, the philosophical "Upanishads". These were to become the basis for the three religions of India, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist.
1200 B/C, The Aryan invasion came from Iran and the North, they took the place apart and added a new class of people to the castes system, the surfs.
612 B/C, The Achaemenids civilization of Persia is the largest and most important in the world.
500 B/C, Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes rule from the Mediterranean to India. They built great palaces in the middle area, at Persepolis.
500 B/C, Mahavira founded the Jain sect, Gautama became the Buddha, as Prince Kapilavastu of Nepal he became enlightened by resisting the demon Mara and his daughters. He was buried in a stone mound 54' high called Stupa No. 1. Asoka, a king in the Maurya Dynasty urged more followers with large inscribed pillars, one was topped with four carved stylized lions in sandstone. Religious merit could be gained by walking around the pillar. Missionaries were sent to Ceylon, Burma and the East Indies with this type of symbolic art. Formulas were developed for making monuments and images that trained carver's could reproduce. Everybody was a good carver, they were on an upswing and approaching high art standards again.
323 B/C, Alexander the Great destroyed all of Persia.
323 B/C, Alexander the Great added the Graeco-Roman influence to India, artists became more independent in style while the religious dominance was wetted down some. Most of their great art was destroyed, either by Alexander or later by the Moslems.
200 B/C, In the western region at Ajanta, near Bombay on the Waghora River, people lived in the jungles hiding out from invaders. They dug caves near the river, not ordinary caves, these were carved and painted caves. The painting fresco on the walls started around 200 B/C, the work still there was done about A/D 400, in the Gupta period. They were fresco secco paintings in blue lapis and azurite, pearl whites, crimsons, brown ochers and green malachite, in a fresco smoothed, 60' x 60' cave room.
They really believed that men were beautiful too, not like their face scarring neighbors and intruders, the Aryan's in 900 B/C, the Scyth's in 700 B/C, and East Asiatic's in 400 B/C., Alexander was just the last straw.
100 B/C, Ceylon was relatively unscathed since the third century B/C and principally Buddhist, they built a city at least eight miles in diameter. This was their capitol in Anuradhapura, trading with Greece and Rome, they were their equals in grandeur. Red, yellow and green were the main painting colors, with little brown or blue, painting just never was their thing.
180 B/C, Farther inland from Bombay and Karli there's an interior called "Chaitya Hall". They carved a large temple room in living rock, 125' long and 50' high, a very intricate and repetitive interior. A small version of the stupa at the back the temple was there for people to gain merit, by walking around it. These are gentle people, followers of the Good Law of the Compassionate One.
Religion was making great artists by giving people time to paint and sculpture, everybody likes to have their work appreciated. The best India artists were alive now, supported by holy families and monasteries in different regions.
At the same time on the Ganges River, parallel developments were taking place, at Mathura and Mattra in the Indus Valley they carved in red sandstone.
The best preserved work is where the invaders were least, at the Kistna River at Amaravari. They worked in a green marble that was a pleasure to carve, and kept high standards until the Gupta kings in 320, who ruled the Aryan north, formed the classical style and drew the artists into developing a new easier image to copy, a dumbing down as it were.
A/D 100, In the battle areas, figures were losing their fine quality of definition and getting back to the more mass produced symbolic style.
242 A/D, Persia was back in power and defeated the Roman emperor Valerian. Sessanian palaces were grand, a typical one at Ctesiphone, Mesopotamia, was classed as one of the wonders of the world. It had pointed arches, an original innovation of the time, a barrel vault with a span of 84' runs through the center of the building. Gypsum mortar held the bricks and smoothed the outside painted surfaces.
These were great warriors, now was the time and the place "chain mail" armor was invented.
A/D 400. Many mold-made fresco mortar plaster casts of figures were found in the ruins of Hadda.
A/D 400. Java Island is farther out in the East Indies, they based their art and architecture on India. A 100 foot high monument was made on the Dieng Plateau, you could walk and worship up the circling path, past 1000 panels of reliefs. This would be three miles of sculpture if placed end to end, they could make the figure do anything. These people included Cambodia under Jayavarman II, and raised art another notch in realism but never left their religious symbolism.
A/D 600, Near Ajanta in Elura, the three sects, Buddhist, Jain, and Brahman carved out of solid living rock, a temple city. Two hundred feet deep, that's two hundred feet straight down, where you walk around, talk about a relief carving! This is one of the "Wonder Cities" of the ancient world, ranking with the Palace of Cnossus, the Aegean Pre-Greek city, in 4000 B/C., the Great Pyramids of Gizeh in Egypt from 4000-3000 B/C, Alexander's Mesopotamian palaces in 3000 B/C, the Acropolis of Greece in 440 B/C. and the Sassanian Palaces of Mesopotamia that were still great at this time.
All the cities of the greatest cultures at their peak periods. These carved four story buildings were to be lived and prayed in, carved out of solid rock, there still standing today.
700 A/D, Another hidden grand temple was carved in subterranean caverns on an island in Bombay harbor.
700 A/D, Ceylon had buildings twelve stories high, sculpture was massive
800 A/D, The tower is becoming increasingly important in the Ganges Valley. Greece is still in the Dark Ages.
1000 A/D, In southwest India, the tower to Siva is 216 feet high built without mortar, the crowning stone carving weighed 80 tons and was pushed up a ramp 4 miles long by elephants.
1200 A/D, The Tai people from southwest China establish the Siamese style, curving roof lines and fancifulness that make Bangkok synonymous with the East.
1300 A/D, Tibet, here India and China met, in art and religion.
1555 A/D, Buildings were big but paintings were getting smaller, Persian influence in calligraphy and illumination in book making was the fashion but India was a little behind in their painting skills.
1600 A/D, Here in Delhi, India, the Moslems are slowly taking over, by the 1600's they controlled most of India. Their influence shows in the Taj Mahall.
1670 A/D, India's artwork was getting closer to the Flemish standard of the time, when a new Moslem in control decreed portraits were a sin. Cottons were stamped or printed with Hindu and Persian motifs for export.
8000 B/C, China tribes were already settling and civilization had began it's development on the Yellow River plain, at the Delta, where Peking is now. This is the same latitude as Trenton, New Jersey, where I was born. This plain extends a thousand miles down to Shanghai.
About the same time farming started and domestic dogs and pigs were kept. Grain was the first harvest of these peaceful Hsia people, just like Egypt at this time, but with a lot less people and a little cooler. They also had pictograph writing.
5000 B/C, Egypt starts smelting bronze and building pyramids.
4000 B/C, China, water and lacquer paints were developed, the water based were fired on clay, the Ning-Po lacquer from the Rhus Vernicflua tree, was painted on wood.
Egypt made water, wax and lime paints, France and Spain made turpentine and mastic paints, Morocco made an alcohol based paint called sandracca, from a tree sap. India made dyes and lacquers from trees and scrubs that were alcohol based. Alcohol paints were winning in the paint wars, and would stay the leader for three thousand years.
3500 B/C, China, many different kinds of clay were available, by this time white clay was rated the best, this clay rivaled the great kaolin clay from the opposite side of the known world, England. Flint was found in these clay mines, the Chinese were to become great miners, but never as great as the Egyptians.
2000 B/C, High quality carving in bone, ivory, jade and marble were found from the Shang-Yin period, bronze was cast in molds, big time. This period was based at Anyang, Honan, the heart of china on the old Ho River. It was to be a feudal society of kings and nobles. Fine silks were already cultivated from the silkworm "Bombyx mori". Tapestry rugs of wool and felt were an advanced art, the best wool coming from the Kansu region of Tibet. Eight colors on one rug, rose, red which turned to tan, three blues, golden yellow, brown and orange. Egypt was into painting murals on walls, China would be covering the walls with tapestry.
Cotton and dyes were imported from India, wool and felt were imported from Mongolia. Artists were painting in water colors on silk, the bronze casters were the best in the world, ordinary household items were made of bronze with pride, in design and quality.
1122 B/C, Anyang was destroyed by the Chou people of the west, they started a dynasty that would last until 256 B/C. They wrote "The Book of Changes", which included the Yang, or the active and the Yin the passive, represented by long and short lines, or a circle divided by a wave line, colored red for Yang and black for Yin.
722 B/C, Confucius, believed the good life would come only to those who fulfilled all their moral obligations to the state, community and the family. Nice guy, he came about the same time as Homer, and was just as important. Art and bronze work were at the bottom of the pendulum's swing, the wars were over, people were again working in the arts, it would improve until a western warring state took them over, the mighty Ch'in.
The simple Taoist priests at this time who started a movement to simplify life would become a cult of magic that practiced alchemy by the end of the Han Dynasty.
249 B/C, The head of the Ch'in family became the first emperor of China, he started the "Great Wall" and building canals. Heavy taxes made him unpopular and the Han Dynasty took over.
207 B/C, The Han Dynasty lasts until A.D 220. We have a good record of the Han, one reason was the custom of burying clay figurines with the dead, representing the times. These were good times, silk was traded with Rome. The art's were flourishing, Ning-Po lacquers on wood, mass cinnabar was carved, a luminescent green fluorite was carved into bowls and cups. Bronze, silk, and fine china, were glazed in colors never seen before, cobalt and zinc were at the alchemists cutting edge. Lead was the paint protector against water, red lead was also the choice of the Phoenicians for painting their boats.
Exploratory mining was big, silver was added to bronze to make black bronze. The things people do when their not at war. New pigments were found and devised, an iron black was used to dye silk for trade in the Mediterranean area. India supplied lacquer and colors until they cultivated their own tree sap lacquer. Paintings and portraits were hung in their homes. Their homes were like later pagodas, three or four stories high.
They never got very far in architecture, they only had wood to work with, lots of clay though, nice tile roofs.
It seems like similar minerals and materials are found on opposite sides of the continent.
A/D 317-589, All of northern China was overrun by Tatar tribes.
A/D 589-618, Buddhism was dominant, 3,792 new temples were being built, sculpturing reached the high standards again and things were looking good.
A/D 618-907, T'ang T'ai-tsung defeated the Turks who tried to take Ch'ang-an. Ch'ang-an was on the other side of the Yellow River from Anyang. These weren't the European Turkish, but the Eastern Turkestan people of the oasis. Basically, Eastern Turkestan is a drainage-less basin surrounded by high mountains. The central portion of this vast area is the arid Takla Makan Desert, where rivers disappear into salt marshes. Both north and south of the desert are a series of oases that are the backbone of the trade routes linking China with the West and India. These oasis cities were Buddhist communities, all patrons of art, making countless images in clay as stone was scarce. Frescoes were painted in the Indian tradition, with some changes. Ajanta shading was now band after band of solid color. White and black jade were prized by the Chinese and found along the southern oasis route.
Art stayed on the high road, hundreds of artists were hired to paint the Buddhist grottoes and sanctuaries, lacquered objects and pottery, scrolls, portraits, all showed good brush work. The Chinese style of brush work, ink on silk, with very little color, the "good brush" technique.
The canons written by Hsieh Ho gave directions on painting great paintings, the poet-painters followed, departing from religious themes. The religious painters were adding new colors to their interpretations.
A/D 960-1279, One of the emperors, Hui-tsung, became a poet painter and started the Academy of Artists, with a special insignia and all. Competitors worked on idea projects of the emperor and were rewarded for ingenuity and style. He was killed by the Golden Tatars who made their capital in Peking. The poet-painters moved south and kept working. China's greatest works were now to be done in the simplest strokes. Scrolls were big, 10, 20, 30" long and 1 or 2 feet high, religion was out of the picture, story telling was in. Pottery was at a high point also, higher than it had ever been before, crackle glaze was new and well controlled.
A/D 1234-1294, The Mongol invasion ended the Southern Sung dynasty of artists, but the artists were not at war so their excellence continued. Genghis Khan, the Moslem Mongol captured all of China, up to and including the Black Sea and Persian Gulf. At least three times bigger than Alexander's empire. Marco Polo came through at this time, trading with the world, color and portraits were introduced to a people that were just now reaching a "dry-brush" approach to interpretation, color and line were still at a cartoon stage, they were two or three hundred years behind Europe in some respects, especially color.
Cloisonne enamel was introduced to China, as practiced by Byzantine craftsmen, China became a great center for these highly colored vases and dishes.
A/D 1368-1644, A Buddhist monk lead the Chinese army to victory. Peking again became the capitol and the great imperial palace was built, perhaps the grandest palace in the world.
Color was added to the dry-brush, factories for porcelain were re-established and for three centuries the finest porcelain ever seen was made. Blue from imported Persian cobalt and red from copper, zinc yellow and flawless glazes. This was also the period of the famous "five-color" enameled ware, and unglazed, intricately carved, colored porcelains. Woodblock printing was a new medium used in the making of encyclopedias, religious texts and copybooks for artists.
A/D 1644-1912, The Manchus, who conquered Turkestan and Tibet, extended their rule to Indo-China, the Ch'ing dynasty would encourage artists to continue but only some porcelain ware remained showing the perfection of the past.
660 B/C, Three Precious Things were given to the founder of the Japan empire, a jewel, a sword, and a mirror. That's as far back as I can find in Japan. There were people there, they used the potter's wheel and casting molds for figures and houses placed around grave sites. Bronze was also cast, thinly, like fired clay. These people believed in a female sun god, wood was the only building material, post and lintel, the only method. No paint, no decorations. A simple "torii" post and beam, marked a religious site. Korea was the chief source of arts and crafts.
200 B/C, The Han dynasty exerts some influence through Korea that is felt in bronze and Confucian ideals.
A/D 317-589, Tatar tribes overran China and built new temples to Budda, the Wei group was most active, carving grottoes in the Indian style. The Sui emperor in 589, ordered the repair of a million and a half images, a hundred thousand new ones, and four thousand new temples. This brought China to the highest sculpture standards and Japan, through Korea, became very proficient in carving, bronzing and painting, very quickly, a nonstop flight to the top.
A/D 593-646, The reigning emperor is killed and the Empress Suiko starts the first art period, the first written language and temples with priests and nuns. One of the temples, the Horyu-ji in Nara, still stands today, the oldest wooden building in the world, The Suiko period produced some of the best Nipponese sculpture, nurturing their high art standards as the wooden seated Bochisattva in the Chugu-ji Nunnery in Nara shows. Frescoes were as well done as the 500 A/D Ajanta murals of India, India teachers or well trained students painted the walls of the Golden Hall of the Horyu-ji.
Another high point is the black bronze "ya kushi" in the Golden Hall. Bronze had developed from the barest knowledge to adding silver to the mix, making a superior non-tarnishing, black bronze. The best high points of art were incorporated from Sassanian Persia, India, and China. Japan was on top.
The last Roman Emperor was displaced by German soldiers in 476, the West was gone, the Byzantine Empire remained until the Turkish conquest in 1453, but art was in a tailspin. The seesaw was working.
A/D 646-710, The Hakuho period continued in the fine arts.
A/D 710- 794, The later Nara period was called Tempyo, these artists were modelers rather than carvers, clay and lacquer was used. Cloth dipped in lacquer was wrapped around a wooden armature and built up with more cloth and lacquer, then it was finished with colored lacquer. This was a new permanent medium, and with it Japan reached the top standards in realistic sculpture. "High art" in "dry lacquer".
A/D 794-897, The Jogan period, small religious feuds moved the capitol to Kyoto where art continued. Lacquer on wood was now decorating fine houses, a decorative, textile patterned wall paint. This wall painting was labeled "yamato-e". Continuous wall painting continued into continuous scrolls, the "tosa style", where a story was told on a scroll to be shown a few inches at a time. An average scroll might measure 1'4" high x 23' long, and be done in many tones with the drawing done in black. The cartoon outline was taken to new lengths by an artist named Toba Sojo, in the 12th century. In Walt Disney's style his characters were monkeys, frogs, and hares, acting like courtiers and priests. This secular art developed into the woodblock print five hundred years later.
A/D 1000, This new worldly art has a new goddess of beauty and fortune, Kichijoten, she's no longer an Indian goddess but a colorful, lifelike noble lady, 3' high, with a halo.
A/D 1192, Yoritomo made himself a Shogun in Kamakura, the military took over running the country. The artists were now being paid to glorify war in the highly realistic style, Shinto, the god of war, is shown as a mild mannered monk. Unkei, perhaps Japan's greatest sculptor is slightly before the great Claus Sluter of France. The East and West are now parallel in sculpturing although Japan doesn't have marble to work in.
A/D 1274-1281, Kubilai Khan twice tries to invade Japan but each time his fleet was destroyed by storms. The Indians and the Japanese were spared Mongol domination.
A/D 1392-1568, The Ashikaga family were the new Shoguns, ruling from Hyoto. Zen Buddhism was the favored religion and their priests controlled the art and trade of the time. The remnants of the Chinese Sung Dynasty infiltrated Japan and influenced a quieter form of art, flower arrangement and tea ceremonies were a change from the battlefields, everybody tried brush painting.
A/D 1449-1474, The eighth Shogun gun, Yoshimasa, was a patron of all the arts, paintings went from scrolls to screens, still mainly black and white. Oda Toyo, 1420-1506, was a painter of merit, a Zen priest, ending the old style with great and simple strokes.
A/D 1500-1550, Screens and sliding panels for homes were done by the school called Kano, bright colors and gold leaf continued in the Tosa style.
A/D 1568-1615, The Momoyama period, civil wars and stone castles decorated with gold background screens, art was on another slide. The church and nobility ceased to be patrons. The way was left open for artists to do their own thing.
A/D 1615-1867, Painters made designs on pottery, screens and panels. The lacquer makers, porcelain manufacturers, and woodblock print makers now had the opportunity to make their work entirely Japanese in style.
A/D 1688-1704, The Genroku period was a time of great luxury, Tokyo was the new capital. The theater and the ladies of the Green Houses lived in a world of their own. Travelers came to the city and bought the woodblock print, done in black and white and than full color. By 1770, prints were made in as many as eleven blocks. Utamaro finally dispensed with the black outline and added powdered mica to the background. In 1794 Sharaku designed one hundred thirty prints of actors of the theater. These beautiful prints would influence some of our best European artists.