Before folk history changed with the concept of human evolution, caves were sacred places inhabited by hermits, or figures from myth.
Popular with painters during the early 1600s, copper sheets were used by Jan Brueghel the Elder, Adam Elsheimer, David Teniers the younger, William Blake, and Joseph Stella, among others.
Every lightning bolt tells a story, with paintings by Rubens, Richard Wilson, Poussin, John Martin, Adam Elsheimer, William Blake, and more.
The most frequently-painted of Boccaccio’s hundred stories, shown here from Rubens to Frederic, Lord Leighton. But there’s much more to the story than that.
The best orator of Rome, and a great poet and writer. He became caught up in the struggle between Caesar and Pompey, and eventually fell foul of Antony. Great paintings too.
Was she abducted, seduced, or seducer? Victim or whore? Ovid’s pair of letters between Helen and Paris raises questions which many artists have tried to tackle.
In the past, people have accepted the reality of mythical creatures, such as winged angels, unicorns, and dragons. When did we start being more objective in our belief of what we see?
He was remarkably successful, a truly self-made artist, who rose from nothing to international renown. But did he ‘occasion a revolution in the art’?
Admiral Lord Nelson died in similar circumstances to General Wolfe – leading his force to victory, although here at sea in the Battle of Trafalgar. Cue for a ‘modern history painting’.
West turns to a series of more classical mythological stories for his paintings between 1792 and 1802. These include Shakespeare, the Bible, and the first novel.