About the Classification



There are many ways of classifying works: by style (as belonging to a genre connected to a time period), by theme, by subject, by medium, by technique, etc ... In fact, there is no unique way of classifying works of art. Depending on the person, their personality, their education, their lifestyle, their expertise and their experience, the same image can be classified differently.


Although arbitrary, we see the following categories of classification: Period, trend, genre, subject, medium, support, material, tools, and techniques. Here they are:


  • Period: Classical, Neoclassical, Contemporary

  • Trend: Figurative, Impressionist, Expressionist, Cubist, Art Deco

  • Type 1: Figurative (realistic, hyper-realistic, caricature, naive), Abstract

  • Style 2: Fantasy, mystical

  • Topic 1: Scenery, Portrait, People, Landscape, Flowers, Animals, Still Life

  • Topic 2: Life, Literature, Philosophy, Art, History, Religion

  • Basic Medium: Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor

  • Material: Paint, Texture (modeling clay or other), Image, etc.

  • Tools: Brush, spatula, markers, pens, spray, hand, electronic tools (crayons to paint desktop) etc.

  • Technique: paint, sculpt, glue

  • Support: Canvas, cardboard, paper, etc.


To a lesser extent, the paintings can be classified by date or size.


If the term “mixed” is used in the description of a painting, it means that its composition includes several mediums and/or materials and/or equipment and/or resources and/or techniques.





In this regard, we can read in Wikipedia, Hierarchy_of_genres, about the seventeenth century works classification:


The hierarchies in figurative art are those initially formulated for painting in 16th century Italy, which held sway with little alteration until the early 19th century. These were formalized and promoted by the academies in Europe between the 17th century and the modern era, of which the most influential became the French Académie de peinture et de sculpture, which held a central role in Academic art. The fully developed hierarchy distinguished between: History painting, including narrative religious mythological and allegorical subjects; Portrait painting; Genre painting or scenes of everyday life; Landscape and cityscape (landscapists were called "common footmen in the Army of Art" by the Dutch theorist Samuel van Hoogstraten); Animal painting; Still life


An influential formulation of 1667 by André Félibien, a historiographer, architect and theoretician of French classicism became the classic statement of the theory for the 18th century:


"He who produces perfect landscapes is above another who only produces fruit, flowers or seashells. He who paints living animals is more estimable than those who only represent dead things without movement, and as man is the most perfect work of God on the earth, it is also certain that he who becomes an imitator of God in representing human figures, is much more excellent than all the others ... a painter who only does portraits still does not have the highest perfection of his art, and cannot expect the honour due to the most skilled. For that he must pass from representing a single figure to several together; history and myth must be depicted; great events must be represented as by historians, or like the poets, subjects that will please, and climbing still higher, he must have the skill to cover under the veil of myth the virtues of great men in allegories, and the mysteries they reveal" - Félibien 1668


But this classification was abandoned during the French Revolution with the demise of the academic system. The modern era has subsequently multiplied an infinite number of shapes, genres and styles. However, some foundations of the hierarchy of genres according to Félibien remain a relevant source for classifying the works.