Legends and Myths in History

Throughout history, artists have used myths and legends to inspire their paintings. From ancient Greek and Roman mythologies to Arabian, Celtic and Islamic art, many legends are represented in history paintings. In the early Renaissance, scenes from ancient history became popular. In the Rococo period, and even during the Neoclassical period, artists often depicted scenes of historical events.

In the Pre-Raphaelite movement, artists used medieval literature for inspiration. Some artists, such as Rembrandt, were known as storytellers. They also painted people in their natural state. However, in the 1800s, artists began to use expressive painting techniques to reach their audiences. In their works, they sought to emphasize the poor and remind viewers of the conditions that they lived in. Then, in the 1930s, the political tensions in Europe led to the Minotaurmachy, which served as a source of imagery for Guernica (1937).

The ancient Mesopotamian creation myth is built around the dragon Tiamat. Marduk then slays Tiamat. Then, Tiamat is thrown into the sea, where she lives. In the same way, in the ancient Greek Iliad, Homer presents an alternate history of humanity. In modern times, Anselm Kiefer has used legends to comment on important events.

During the Renaissance, artists idealized figures to suggest strength and virtue. They were often depicted in a clear narrative, and the colouring and composition were refined. They also used titles from the Bible and ancient texts to justify their art as a noble and sacred form.

In the Neo-Classical period, artists continued to produce large history paintings. They were referred to as L’art Pompier. They were also adapted to convey nationalistic sentiment. In the 1900s, artists such as Benjamin West attempted to create a more historically accurate style of painting. In addition, they used symbols and signs to make abstract artworks.

The Pre-Raphaelites were artists who felt that art legends in history the Classical culture destroyed their artistic sensibilities. They wished to move to a simpler lifestyle and to live in a more traditional culture. As a result, they looked to the medieval era and the medieval life of their time for inspiration. The Romans had a large population, and they were a civilization that lasted longer than other cultures.

In the 1930s, Pablo Picasso became interested in the Minotaur. He found it inspiring during a particularly turbulent time in his life. He also connected the creature to bullfighting in Spain. Then, in the late 1930s, he painted a series of twisted monster-like forms. This painting, which is one of the most famous art legends in history, was a direct influence on Picasso’s Guernica.

In the nineteenth century, artists such as Helen Chadwick and Sidney Nolan used myths and legends in their work. They often featured everyday objects and items. In some cases, they reinforced notions of self-congratulatory paternalism toward blacks and Native Americans. In other cases, they revealed deep ambivalence about the treatment of outsiders.

Anselm Kiefer, a Jewish painter, has also used legends in his work. His series, Telling Tales, assembles artworks from the New-York Historical Society collection.