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European Paintings

The social, political, and philosophic history of Western culture is summed up in painting, beginning with the Northern and Italian Renaissance and proceeding onward. European courts relied on tapestry as their primary propaganda device through the first half of the 1700s; then, painting became the most important medium.

During the Baroque period, Louis XIV fashioned France into a tastemaker for European art. To the north, the Dutch Golden Age produced small paintings for domestic spaces of a burgeoning merchant class.

In the Rococo and Neoclassic periods, an academic approach prevailed. Large history paintings were the most treasured, and the most difficult to sell. There were also genre paintings, showing scenes of ordinary life; still life paintings; and animal paintings.

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