Early art of Northern Europe
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Stone Age European Art

many horses cave painting
A herd of horses
(Chauvet cave, France, ca. 30,000 BC)

The first modern humans who arrived in Northern Europe, around 45,000 BC, don't seem to have made any art. But by around 30,000 BC, around the time that the last of the Neanderthals died, the modern humans began to paint vivid, exciting scenes on the walls of the caves where they lived and worked. This may be about the same time that people in South Africa also started to do rock art.

head of a woman with long hair
First carving of a human face
(Brassempouy, France, ca. 25000 BC)

Not long after they started painting, these people were also carving small stone and ivory statues of people and animals. Some of these may have had a religious purpose, but they could also be for decoration or for artistic expression (if there was even any difference).

cave painting of a horse
Lascaux cave painting of a horse (ca. 13,000 BC)
two clay statuettes of sitting people
A thinking man and a sitting woman,
Cernavoda, Romania, ca. 5000 BC

European artists continued to create new cave paintings, off and on, until about 8000 BC, but after that, people in Northern Europe seem to have lost interest in painting animals or carving people, and instead they created only abstract patterns and designs. Further south, in Spain, Italy, Romania, and southern France, they continued to paint and sculpt people into the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, along with geometric designs.

Learn by doing: painting rock art
More about Bronze Age European art

Bibliography and further reading about early European art:

More about Northern Europe
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 18 August, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT