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The History of Painting and Decorating Craftsmanship


The first paintings appeared in prehistory when nomadic people used them to decorate their walls, much like the present day. They made drawings with charcoal leaving marks in the caves where they passed. In one of the most recent discoveries, archeologists in Indonesia discovered the oldest painting in history.

Decorative or pictorial paintings were the norm in the early centuries. The paintings in palaces date back thousands of years. The Great Exchequer Chamber of Winchester Castle and Woodstock Palace was to be repainted with religious pictures in 1228 under the direction of Henry the Third

The history of painting is vast, and there is still much to be discovered. The painting process has undoubtedly progressed from prehistoric humans grinding minerals into images for cave walls. 

When did it begin?

It is believed that the oldest known paintings date from approximately 40,000 years ago. Yup, you read that right. 40,000 years ago!

These have been found both in the Franco-Cantabrian regions of western Europe and in caves in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

How did it develop? 

Painters traveled long distances to obtain iron oxide pigments 25,000 years ago because they were highly coveted. The Greeks developed lead white paint in the nineteenth century, and later it was replaced by titanium dioxide. For centuries, health issues have been associated with lead-based color, which can be hazardous to the human body. This change had been a critical factor in the development and science of paint!

Oil Painting

The oil painting medium was invented in the 15th century, and by the 16th century, it was the preferred medium for artists throughout Europe due to its durability, rich textures, and slow drying time. Oil-based paints are thought to have been invented by Jan Van Eykes as early as 1400. Although many claim this, he is instead the one who popularized it.

By boiling calcined bones with the linseed oil of flax plants, Van Eyck mixed raw pigment powder and organic oils. It was challenging to find a stable mixture that dried quickly in the past. As a result, a painter could enhance what he had achieved the day before and an endless array of effects! 

Van Eyck Arnolfini Portrait

The Arnolfini Portrait (or The Arnolfini WeddingThe Arnolfini Marriage, the Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, or other titles) is a 1434 oil painting on oak panel by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. It forms a full-length double portrait, believed to depict the Italian merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, presumably in their residence at the Flemish city of Bruges.”

– Wikipedia

Coat Of Arms | Schilderers’ ( Painters’)

While paint craft origins are primarily associated with Nordic and European cultures, there has been a strong desire to trace them back to centuries ago when Cimbri swung white painted shields through dense forests. Eventually, these shields became more and more elaborate, the name Schilderer was adapted, and some severe speculation has been made that these were perhaps the first paintings in northern Europe.

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According to the Painting and Decorating Craftsman’s Manual and Text Book, there are numerous writings about the origins of the painters’ coat of arms. These artifacts are thought to date back many centuries, including the Golden Age of Heraldry (the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Centuries) and even the evolutionary period of this science (the Eleventh and Thirteenth Centuries).

Modern Day House Paint

Let’s fast forward a bit and take a look at what happened in 1718 when Marshall Smith invented a “Machine for the Grinding of Colors” that sparked years of innovation to find out how to grind pigment materials effectively so the paint could be manufactured. 

  • 1866

The Cleveland, Ohio-based firm Sherwin, Williams, & Co. was founded by Harry Sherwin, Alanson Osborn, and Edward Williams in 1866. Eventually, Henry Sherwin invented a resealable tin can, which CHANGED the industry forever.

  • 1883

The Benjamin Moore company was founded in 1883, and this competition continues today. Throughout the twentieth century, the company produced color mixing and production methods based on chemistry, but they also developed the first computer-based color-matching system we all use today.

  • 20th – 21st Century

In the past few decades, we’ve come a long way in the paint, from grinding up pigments by hand to purchasing many different shades in easy-to-use tins. We’ve learned what not to do and what is absolutely essential throughout this process. We’re focused on developing low VOC paints, which minimize the number of chemicals released into the air and continuously improve our paint durability chemistry. A better understanding of painting’s history will make our home improvement projects safer and more informed.

Would you like to know more about low or non VOC products?

We are always here to help. Contact us today!

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