Pliny the Elder and ancient precedents

The earliest surviving writing on art that can be classified as art history are the passages in Pliny the Elder's Natural History (c. AD 77-79), concerning the development of Greek sculpture and painting.From them it is possible to trace the ideas of Xenocrates of Sicyon (c. 280 BC), a Greek sculptor who was perhaps the first art historian.Pliny's work, while mainly an encyclopaedia of the sciences, has thus been influential from the Renaissance onwards. (Passages about techniques used by the painter Apelles c. (332-329 BC), have been especially well-known.) Similar, though independent, developments occurred in the 6th century China, where a canon of worthy artists was established by writers in the scholar-official class. These writers, being necessarily proficient in calligraphy, were artists themselves. The artists are described in the Six Principles of Painting formulated by Xie He.

Published On June 27, 2020 3:05 PM

Last Updated June 30, 2020 10:34 AM