Timeline of World Art

Prehistoric (20,000—8,000 BC)

Ancient Near Eastern (8000 BC—650 AD)

Near Eastern ancient art is a large category that spans thousands of years and multiple cultures from the geographical area that is today known as the Middle East. The following list represents a selection of these and provides a mere introduction to this complex history

Ancient Egyptian (8000 BC—300 AD)

Read an overview of the art of ancient Egypt in its entirety

Learn about the major Egyptian architectural sites, including their locations, layouts and functions. Also see photos and access bibliographies on ancient Egyptian monuments

The Australian Museum gives a short tutorial in ancient Egyptian sculpture, from methods of carving to the works’ eventual resting places

Learn about the tactics and materials that went into ancient Egyptian painting practices 

Greek (1000 BC—1 AD)

A comprehensive tutorial on the most important elements of Greek architecture 

Access Columbia University’s interactive introduction to Greek architecture 

Find out more about the sculptural innovations of ancient Greece.

Roman (600 BC—476 AD)

Read a fully comprehensive overview of the history and styles of Roman architecture 

Visit the Roman sculpture collection at the British Museum 

The Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics is a great educational resource for those interested in this ancient craft.

Early Christian/Byzantine (100—500)

Access Columbia University’s interactive introduction to Early Christian and Byzantine architecture 

View the British Library’s catalogue of Early Christian illuminated manuscripts

Also read a turn-of-the-century text about Early Christian and Byzantine sculpture 

Islamic

The University of Michigan’s Art of the Crusades Era page puts Islamic art in the context of its European counterparts during this time period

Access Columbia University’s interactive introduction to Islamic architecture 

Medieval Islamic Mosaics and Modern Maths provides an overview of the history of this amazing craft

Medieval/Gothic (12th to 16th centuries)

Access Columbia University’s interactive introduction to Medieval architecture 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History for Gothic art 

Also visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Medieval Sculpture Hall 

Access a comprehensive guide to Medieval manuscripts on the web from libraries and museums around the world

Read about Italian panel paintings and frescos from the late Middle Ages on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website

Learn all about the construction of cathedrals and stained glass windows of the Gothic and Middle Ages with NOVA’s interactive site

Italian Renaissance (13th to 16th centuries)

Access Columbia University’s interactive introduction to Renaissance architecture 

A selection of Italian Renaissance sculpture slides from Boston College’s art department

Access a comprehensive course and guide to Painting and Sculpture in the Italian Renaissance put together by the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

A brief history of Renaissance painting provided by the University of Evansville

Baroque to Rococo (17th and 18th centuries)

The Baroque Era in the Arts and Cultural Expressions of the Age

Access Columbia University’s interactive introduction to Baroque architecture 

See a selection of Baroque paintings that helped to define the movement

Examples of the transition from the Baroque to Rococo with visual examples provided by Boston College

Neoclassicism to Romanticism (18th and 19th centuries)

Read about the transition from Rococo to Neoclassicism

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History for Neoclassical art 

Read an essay on French Romanticism from Art History Unstuffed

The English Romantic William Turner was perhaps the most influential painter of the Romantic movement in England

Modern (Late 19th century to 20th century

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History for Impressionism 

Another helpful overview of French Impressionism 

View famous works by two of the most important French Impressionist painters, Edgar Degas and Claude Monet 

Read about how Japanese Prints influenced French Impressionist painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century

The Metropolitan Museum of Art provides an overview of Cubism, one of the most important modern art movements to follow Impressionism

De Stijl, Bauhaus and Post-Modernism explained on Cornell’s website with helpful links and vocabulary

Learn about the modern Surrealist movement and its connection to Cubism, Dada, and other post-Impressionist developments in modern art

Contemporary (20th century to present day)

Learn about the New York School with this helpful link that expounds upon the major artists of Abstract Expressionism 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art also provides an overview of Abstract Expressionism

A synopsis of the Pop-Art movement that Andy Warhol made so famous

Minimalism expounded upon the conceptual concerns of Pop-Art and paved the way for Post-modernist theory

Read all about the conception and evolution of Post-modernism