Discover timelines of famous painters

famous painters


Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, we all know the names, but when were they alive? What periods are they from? Which ones were alive at the same time and which ones are separated by hundreds of years?

To help you learn or teach the answers to these questions, we have been working through our timelines of famous painters, organising them by century, nationality and period.

Whether you are working on a school project, planning a lesson, or simply want to gain more knowledge, these timelines are a fantastic way to explore the lives of famous painters throughout history.

We have created a directory page so you can easily explore all the timelines we found, click the link below to jump straight in and start exploring timelines.



Or continue reading this post to learn how the different types of timelines were created, the criteria used to select the events and any possible inaccuracies.

There is also an example embedded timeline for each group (yes! you can embed any Histropedia timeline on your own site – learn how here).

If you would prefer to search for these timelines you can do so directly on, and you will find instructions on how to find the timeline you are looking for in each section below. You may even find some good timelines of famous painters we missed when putting these posts together.  


Histropedia uses content from Wikipedia and Wikidata to create our events and timelines.

Every event is linked to a Wikipedia article, which can read by doubling clicking an event, and the majority of the timelines in our directory (including most of the timelines in these posts) have been created by importing Wikipedia categories. The categories are imported without their sub-categories to maintain their relevance to the topic, this means that timelines on broader topics may appear very incomplete until we have merged in relevant timelines.

Wikidata is a sister project of Wikipedia, creating a linked structured database of knowledge. To learn more visit their homepage. Wikidata is a vital part of Histropedia, not only do we use it for adding dates and pictures to our events, but it also lets is create instant timelines based on very specific criteria. We use this to create timelines that are too specific to warrant categories or where we are unable to easily merge in the required sub timelines to complete a broad topic timeline.


These are the basic controls for Histropedia:
  • Click and drag to move through time.
  • Zoom in with the scroll wheel to reveal more events in any period.
  • Double click an event to open the reading window.
  • Click the External link icon icon to open the embedded timeline in full screen.
  • For more on how to use Histropedia click here.


Famous Painters by Nationality

View all Painters by nationality timelines

On the directory of painters timelines page we have listed 14 of the most populated timelines for painters from different countries. If you would like to see if other timelines are available you can search directly on Histropedia.


Your search should look like this:

italian painters (replacing nationality with the one you are looking for.)


Italian Painters


All of the timelines are based on Wikipedia categories which were automatically imported into Histropedia as timelines.

The criteria used in the Wikipedia categories of people ‘from’ a certain country is not very specific, and often include people who are only strongly associated with the country.

This mean that although these timelines may include painters who were neither born nor a citizen of the country, it is safe to presume they had strong ties with the place.

To create the majority of these timelines we had to merge multiple timelines together (all imported automatically from Wikipedia). We did this because when we first imported the categories from Wikipedia we only took the articles in the top level category, and ignore anything in the sub categories. To solve this issue we sometimes have to combine timelines to create the broader topics.

When merging the timeline to create the timeline of Dutch painters we included the categories for 18th and 19th century painters from the Northern Netherlands.

We wanted to combine all of these timelines to create one massive timeline of painters throughout history, however this would result in a timeline of over 25,000 events, and we can’t guarantee the performance of the timeline. On any reasonably modern computer we are confident you will be ok viewing up to 10,000 events on a single timeline, above that it is down to power of your computer and a timeline of this size may crash your browser!!

So now that you have been properly warned here is the Timeline of Painters.


Famous Painters by Century and Nationality

View all Painters by century and nationality timelines

As you can see on the accompanying post we have a single painters timeline for everyone before the 11th Century. For the 11th century and 12th century we have a single timeline for the entire century and from the 13th century onwards we also start to have sub timelines for each century with painters organised by nationality.

The accompanying post has all of the painters by century timelines and nearly all of the painters by nationality timelines listed, however if you would prefer to search on Histropedia instead of browsing the list you can also find them all from the search box.


Famous Painters by Century

To search by century start with the century you are interested in and add painters to the end. Because the timeline names have come directly from the Wikipedia category name there is some inconsistency with the use of hyphens separating the number and the word century. When searching DO NOT use a hyphen between the number and the word century, this will ensure you see results both with and without the hyphen.


Your search should look like this:

16th century painters (replacing 16th with the century you are interested in)


16th century painters


This style of timeline are the ones that have been created using Wikidata queries mentioned at the beginning of this post. To create these timeline we ran queries to show all people with the occupation of painter who were alive during the specified century. The actual query ask to show anyone who was born during the century OR anyone who died during the century, therefore some people who were born at the very end of a century or painters who died at the very beginning of the century may appear on the timeline, even though they were not active during the century.


Famous Painters by Century and Nationality

To search for painters century and nationality follow the same rule for hyphens we used for painters century, and simply add the nationality you want between the century and the word painters


You search should look like this:

17th century french painters (replacing 17th and french with the century and nationality you are interested in)


17th-century French painters

These timeline were nearly all created automatically by importing Wikipedia categories, very little work has been done editing these timelines. We used these timelines to create the Painter by Nationality in the first section of this post, and therefore the criteria of ‘from’ as defined in the Wikipedia categories is the same.


Famous Painters by Period

View all Painters by period timelines

The final section is made up of timeline of painters by period or artistic style and movement. Most periods also contain sub timelines of painters by nationality for that period.

There are probably a few timeline of famous painters by period we did not uncover, you are more likely to find single timelines for entire periods, but you may also find some timeline by period and nationality.

Your search should look like this:

romantic painters (replacing romantic with the period you are interested in)


english romantic painters (replacing english and romantic with the nationality and period you are interested in)


English Romantic painters

All of these timelines have also been created from Wikipedia categories, with the timelines for the entire period being again the result of merging the sub timelines together.

The definition of ‘from’ as represented by these timelines is the same as with the previous sections.


Helping to improve Histropedia

We are still in the relatively early stage of creating Histropedia, and the content we are using is community created, for these reason we cannot claim 100% accuracy of completion of any of these timelines. However we are confident that the painters timelines we have collected should be very accurate, and hopefully all of the most important painters from any country, period or century will be present on the timelines.

If you would like to help improve Histropedia, either in art History (or any other topic covered in Wikipedia) there are several ways you can help.

Coming very soon will be an editable version of the timeline directory, allowing anyone to correct mistakes they find on any particular timeline. If you have any individual event that is incorrect you can already edit the event to fix the mistake. Once edited it will be corrected on every timeline that is using the event.

Until we have the editable timeline directory we will be happy to take correct any mistakes you find in the timelines or publish new timelines if you have created one that you feel is missing from the directory.

A final way in which to help improve Histropedia is to directly edit Wikidata, this will improve the quality of timelines that we are able to create using queries.

If you would like get involved in any of our editing projects you can sign up to the mailing lists here:

Sean McBirnie

Co-Founder at Histropedia

Latest posts by Sean McBirnie (see all)

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