Genre Painting

48 artworks, 20 artists
Paintings depicting everyday, holiday, street and other scenes are called genre paintings. Genre painting is one of the five main types that form the basis of fine art, along with still life, landscape, portraiture and historical painting.

Stages of genre painting development

Paintings with genre scenes were already painted in Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. European art of the Middle Ages gave us many beautiful works on religious subjects in this genre. In the Renaissance, genre painting gradually began to move away from religious subjects, although earlier the artists preferred to depict such scenes as construction of a temple or festivities at a religious holiday on their canvases. Over time, painters filled their religious paintings with various household items gaving them a new context: the paintings became genre, and in a religious subject each viewer could see something close and understandable to him/her precisely thanks to the simple everyday things.

By the 17th century, genre painting has evolved into an independent genre of art. It became especially popular in Holland, where the growing power of Protestantism significantly decreased interest for religious paintings. Artists were commissioned to paint still lifes, portraits, and landscapes. While working on family portraits, painters often did not decorate them with the sets of static figures, but created a full-fledged genre scenes depicting the families engaged in some common activities. Dutch artists F. van Mieris, G. Terborch, E. de Witte, and others worked in this genre.

In other European countries, genre works did not attract much interest until the 18th century. The French artists were the first to turn to genre painting, and after them, this trend became fashionable throughout Europe and Russia. A. Watteau, A. Rotta, F. Boucher, F. Goya, J.-B. Greuze, Fragonard, I. Kramskoy, V. Perov, I. Repin, V. SerovI. Shishkin and many other artists of the 18—19th centuries painted genre scenes.

Painting a genre scene requires the painter not only to have skills in working with canvas and paints, but also a good imagination and a deep understanding of the subject. The favourite subjects of the artists working in this genre were crowd scenes depicting a city or rural holiday, a summer café or a field work, etc. Our art portal invites you to admire the selection of paintings with genre scenes painted by famous artists of the past as well as contemporary painters.