Artistic eras

The major periods of artistic development in France

Cave paintings in Lascaux, dating back about 17,000 years (Photo by unknown)

After England's Stonehenge, Europe's most famous prehistoric remains have to be France's Paleolithic cave paintings.

 
Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)

Small votive bronzes, statues, jewelry, and engraved weapons and tools from the Celtic and Roman eras are spread across France's archaeology museums

 
12C Romanesque frescoes in the Chapelle des Moines at the Abbaye de Cluny in Berzé-la-Ville (Photo by Uknown)

Medieval Mass was in Latin; carved bas reliefs helped explain the Biblical lessons to the illiterate masses

 
The Lady and the Unicorn (French: La Dame à la licorne) also called the Tapestry Cycle is the title of a series of six Flemish tapestries depicting the senses. They are estimated to have been woven in the late 15th century in the style of mille-fleurs. (Photo Public Domain)

Stained glass and stylized, flowing, and rhythmic carved stone with features and gestures exaggerated for symbolic or emotional emphasis.

 
The Eva Prima Pandora (c 1550) by French Renaissance painter Jean Cousin, in the Louvre Museum (Photo Public Domain)

The rebirth of classical ideal, its artists using naturalism and linear perspective to achieve new heights of realism

 
The Judgment of Solomon (1649) by French baroque master Nicolas Poussin, in the Louvre (Photo Public Domain)

Explosions of dynamic fury, movement, color, and figures

 
Liberty Leading the People (1830) by Romantic master Eugène Delacroix, in the Louvre (Photo Public Domain)

While the Neoclassical rediscovers the clean Classical lines of antiquity, the Romantics went for the heroic, historic, and melodramatic

 
Les Coquelicots (Poppy Field) (1873) by Claude Monet, in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris (Photo Public Domain)

France's greatest conribution to the history of art is the late 19C Impressionist movement

 
La chambre de Van Gogh à Arles (Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles) (1889) by Vincent van Gogh, in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris (Photo Public Domain)

Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Toulouse Lautrec—and Pointillism, fauvism, Cubism and other early 20C movements