Shepherds and shepherdesses painted in stories, from classical myth, through the Bible and Christ’s nativity, to epic poetry, including Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Dante awakes in Limbo, the outermost part of Hell reserved for those whose only failing was that they lived before the Christian era. An opportunity for self-promotion.
Western paintings of devils from Michelangelo to Fuseli show the great influence of Hieronymus Bosch.
Derived from books of hours, paintings of the four seasons started to appear in the late 16th century. Here are Arcimboldo, de Momper, and the Brueghels.
In 1348, the Black Death killed about half the population of Florence, then the hotbed of the early Renaissance. That is the frame story for Boccaccio’s Decameron.
Biography to the death of Darius the King of Persia, with superb paintings by Degas, Elisabetta Sirani, Altdorfer, Jan Brueghel the Elder, and more.
For the last 3,500, monkeys have often appeared in European paintings. Here’s a brief survey, with examples from Botticelli, Brueghels, Clara Peeters, Watteau, and others.
Take some blue glass, grind it, and turn it into paint: Smalt is one of the strangest of pigments. It extensively used until replaced by Prussian Blue in the early 1700s, and is making a comeback.
The trickery involved in building the first city of Troy results in its destruction. How Achille’s parents marry, and what happens at their wedding.
Ovid, through Achelous the river god, explains how the Horn of Plenty was wrenched from Achelous’ head in a fight with Hercules. With a gem of modern narrative painting too.