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The Origin of Painting

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reading about the shadow ….and in some interpretations, the origins of picture making.

projection systems

As a follow-up to the below post, I thought it useful to expand a bit on Pliny the Elder’s account of the origin of painting. In his Natural History (circa 77-79AD), Pliny attempts to make the compendium of information for his time. In Books XXXIV and XXXV, he discusses metallurgy, sculpture, and painting.

In Chapter 5 of Book XXXV, he writes, “We have no certain knowledge as to the commencement of the art of painting, nor does this enquiry fall under our consideration. The Egyptians assert that it was invented among themselves, six thousand years before it passed into Greece; a vain boast, it is very evident. As to the Greeks, some say that it was invented at Sicyon, others at Corinth; but they all agree that it originated in tracing lines round the human shadow […omnes umbra hominis lineis circumducta].

Later, in Chapter 15, he tells the now-famous story…

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