Rulers of Art
12" Wooden Ruler made in U.S.A. of American-grown basswood.
This ruler is a list of Great Painters. This doesn’t mean that we think painters are the only great artists. Maybe someday we’ll make a Rulers of Art - Great Sculptors or a Rulers of Art - Performance Artists.
Painting has evolved tremendously over the centuries. In the Western world, most painting before the Renaissance was of religious subjects. In the Renaissance, Italian painters discovered (or re-discovered) perspective, creating a whole new painted world. Before the discovery of photography, portraiture was the way to visually capture a realistic image of a person. After that, painters were free to abandon realism and create abstract visions of what they perceived. We have tried to round out our list of Great Painters with important artists from all periods and from multiple regions around the world.
The dates listed are the years of each painter’s birth and death, if known. We have furthermore identified each one with their nationality (and place of birth, if different).
Some of America’s notable painters have been women: Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) who collaborated in Paris with Edgar Degas (1834-1917), and Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), who found great inspiration in New Mexico.
We regularly update our rulers to stay current with modern thinking about each topic. Recent additions to Rulers of Art have been Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), and Haitian/Puerto Rican/American graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988).
The “head” image is of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), the troubled Dutch painter who sold just one painting in his lifetime, but after his death went on to inspire a generation. Our illustration is based on one of his many self-portraits, this one with a gray felt hat, now on display in Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum.
If you like this ruler, you might also be interested in Rulers of Architecture, or Great Women Rulers of Art.