More than 1,000,000 words on world history in linked narratives

More than 10,000 events from world history to search for timelines

History of African art

By one of the strange coincidences of history, the 5th century BC produces the first masterpieces in two incompatible styles of sculpture. Nearly 2500 years later, these styles become bitter rivals in the studios of our own time.

One is the classical realism which will prevail from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. The other is the sculpture of Africa, distorting human features and limbs in a dramatically expressive manner. ...

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Nok terracotta sculpture, c. 250 BC (Minneapolis Institute of Arts - Enlarge on linked site)
History of Great Britain: 1767-1792

By the 1780s Britain is a society profoundly changed from a century earlier. There is now political power in middle-class hands. And new opportunities are available in the developing Industrial Revolution.

There is no more striking example of this flexible society, in which merit can find its own rewards, than the career of Richard Arkwright. Born the youngest of seven children of a barber and wigmaker ...

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Richard Arkwright, 1789-90, studio of Joseph Wright (National Portrait Gallery, London)
History of Painting: 1593-1610

One of the most startling and salutary shocks ever administered to fashionable art is the work of Caravaggio in the last few years of the 16th century. In about 1593 he arrives, at the age of twenty, in a Rome which is still attracted to the esoteric niceties of mannerism.

The young man soon introduces two invigorating new elements in his paintings: a use of composition and light which gives the viewer an immediate sense of drama; and an intense realism ...

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Caravaggio, The Supper at Emmaus, 1610 (National Gallery, London)
History of Architecture: Santa Sophia

In Santa Sophia in Constantinople (completed astonishingly in only five years) the architects working for Justinian achieve with triumphant skill a new and difficult feat of technology - that of placing a vast circular dome on top of a square formed of four arches.

The link between the curves of two arches (diverging from a shared supporting pillar) and the curve round the base of the dome is made by a complex triangular shape known as a pendentive ...

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Santa Sophia, Istanbul, interior: completed AD 537 (Fotofile CG)
History of Primitive Art

In the recesses of caves, people begin to decorate the rock face with an important theme in their daily lives, the bison and reindeer which are their prey as Ice Age hunters. And sculptors carve portable images of another predominant interest of mankind - the swelling curves of the female form, emphasizing the fertility on which the survival of the tribe depends.

Perhaps the most famous of early sculptures is the so-called Venus of Willendorf ...

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The Venus of Willendorf, c. 25,000 BC (Natural History Museum, Vienna - Enlarge on linked site)

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