History of Painting Summary


History of Painting Summary

The use of colors for decorative and ornamental purposes antedates written history, and they were possibly employed by aboriginal man in or for the adornment of his per-son. To trace the progress of this fine art from its incipiency were an impossible task, because of the non existence of historic records. Milton, the blind poet, with fine poetic frenzy, describes the gorgeous flower mosaics which glorified the nuptial bower in Eden’s garden.

History of Painting Summary : What is painting ? Painting of Historical Events and Evolution, colorist decoration of domestic architecture.

History of Painting Summary : What is painting ? Painting of Historical Events and Evolution, colorist decoration of domestic architecture.

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So called sacred books according to Moses tell us that long ago Tyre was famed among the nations of the earth for the skill of her workmen in gold and colors and embroidery ; and that Huram, the King of Tyre, did send to Solomon, the new-made King of Israel (even as before time he had sent to David cedar wood, or trees, whereof and wherewith the said David did build him a dwelling-house), a son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, whose father was a Tyrian man, skillful in decorating in gold and silver and brass and iron, and in crimson and purple and gold, as also in embroidery and in fine linen.

An accomplished artist was this man of Tyre ! We may suppose that during the earlier period of man’s development the employment of color for decorative and ornamental purposes was confined mostly to the temples of worship and to the palaces and tombs of kings ; and, more-over, that colors had a significance beyond mere harmonious arrangement, and were used emblematically in the Egyptian, Jewish, and other pagan modes of worship.

The enduring materials which monumentally record the glory of Egyptian civilization were, we suppose, colored to symbolize the mysteries of their strange and, to us, incomprehensible religion. And so through as we know them all succeeding forms and changes and religious inventions, until the use of color for sacred and sacerdotal purposes seemed to have attained its highest reach with the culminating temporal power of the Romish Church.

We may suppose that there was a period in man’s history when the average mind was educated in a knowledge of color harmony. We know there was and is a time where in our civilization there exists an almost entire ignorance of and indifference to this subject, and a prevailing inability to discern harmony and distinguish discords in compositions of color.

The protest of Luther and his compeers against what they deemed errors in the Church, included more than the diversion of a portion of the religious thought of the so called Christian world from the channel through which it had been accustomed to flow. The change in the spirit of those who followed in the footsteps of the protesters was radical and entire.

The institution, founded by St. Peter, the repository of God’s power on earth, the object of extremest veneration theretofore, on the part of those truly religious, who followed Luther out, became the thing abhorrent, the standing offense against the God of Abraham, the Antichrist, the devil’s engine for the perversion of human souls.

All of art in painting, and sculpture, and architecture, which the Church had gathered and almost monopolized the emblem of the cross, the Virgin Mother, the stained windows, the softened light of cathedral and minster were become idols in the new light of Luther and his friends, and everything which savored of the Church was banished and put far away.

Out of this, we may assume, grew that indisposition to, and consequent ignorance of, color-harmony, which has ever been the accompaniment of Protestant Puritanism. Coming down to our own time, and looking back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, we may find the cause of our own want of taste and our indifference to the use of colors for decorative and ornamental purposes.


The rigid teachings of the semi-theocracy of the Puritan Commonwealth were far-reaching in extent, wonderful in influence, and are most difficult to trace. They crop out to-day among all the forms and features of our diversified society and civilization. Modified by the influx of immigration, by ever-increasing contact with the world, by accumulation of wealth and its consequent refinement and luxurious tendencies, they yet bear more or less of the rigidity and severity of their original features.

To these teachings may be traced the entire indifference to the use of colors for decorative and ornamental purposes, and the inability to distinguish color-harmony, which has heretofore universally prevailed, and which may be said now generally to prevail, among us as a people. With those Puritan Fathers a knowledge of the simple names of colors was a frivolity, if not a sin, and the use of colors for church purposes would have been looked upon as a crime little less heinous than image worship.

Scarlet with them was significant of the ” woman of Babylon ” she who sat upon the seven hills, drunken with the blood of saints. Purple suggested pagan idolatry, and red the right hand of wrath ! Colors, either as ornaments or emblems, could have no place in their purely intellectual and ideal faith. To have rendered their places of worship attractive by ornamentation would have given the lie to their whole profession.

The rigid morality of those God fearing ascetics found proper and fitting expression in the rectangular shelters, under the wooden roofs of which they assembled to worship “in spirit and in truth,” so far as they were conscious of their own spiritual impulses. May we not rejoice that the materials which architecturally symbolized the simplicity of their religion were not enduring as monumental brass or marble ? In tracing backward the cause of our want of taste and our indifference to the use of colors, it seems not necessary to go beyond the period of that settlement and that civilization which has given the key-note to the moral and intellectual tone of succeeding generations.

Be it a matter to deplore, or to rejoice at, it is not to be denied that Puritanism, as a system, with its severe morals and its simple tastes, has become a thing of the past. We find ourselves now upon the other road. The painless structures which were the vanity of our severe predecessor, gave place to the diluted Puritanism of white and green. Let us congratulate ourselves that the latter discordant combination has run its course, and has given place to a disposition, at least, to color the exteriors of our dwelling-places with some regard to harmony and the general fitness of things.

Encouraging as is the partial recovery he white-and-green mania, there is much yet to be done in educating the people as to what colors and tones of color, what tints and shades, may properly be displayed in the colorist decoration of domestic architecture.

History of Painting Summary Article Source : This article courtesy should goes to House Painting Carriage Painting and Graining by John W Masury.



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