The Romans gave Europe its first taste of a common culture, and awe-inspiring art. From its groundbreaking architecture to its statues, mosaics, and frescos, Rome engineered bigger and better than anyone before. At its peak, the Roman Empire was a society of unprecedented luxury, with colossal arenas for entertaining the masses and giant monuments to egotistical emperors. And then it fell.
More to Explore from Rick Steves' Europe
In the 1800s, the Industrial Revolution spawned new artistic styles: idealized Romanticism, light-chasing Impressionism, sensuous Art Nouveau. Then Europe’s tumultuous 20th century inspired rule-breaking art as exciting as the times: from Expressionism and Cubism to Surrealism to Abstract. The genius of artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Dalí express the complexity of our modern world.
In the 1600s and 1700s, the art of "divine" kings and popes — and of revolutionaries and Reformers — tells the story of a Europe in transition. In the Catholic south, Baroque bubbled over with fanciful decoration and exuberant emotion. In the Protestant north, art was more sober and austere. And in France, the excesses of godlike kings gave way to revolution, Napoleon, and cerebral Neoclassicism.
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