Stone Age art of northern Europe

Home » Stone Age art of northern Europe
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
A herd of horses (Chauvet cave, France, ca. 30,000 BC)

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.

First carving of a human face (Brassempouy, France, ca. 25000 BC)

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).

Lascaux cave painting of a horse (ca. 13,000 BC)

Lascaux cave painting of a horse (ca. 13,000 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.

A thinking man and a sitting woman, Cernavoda, Romania, ca. 5000 BC

A thinking man and a sitting woman, Cernavoda, Romania, ca. 5000 BC

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

By |2017-06-26T16:07:12+00:00June 26th, 2017|Art, Northern Europe|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Stone Age art of northern Europe. Quatr.us Study Guides, June 26, 2017. Web. September 23, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. 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 Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.