Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Discovery of the Lascaux cave paintings

It was on this day in 1940 that four teenage boys discovered the Lascaux cave paintings, one of the greatest works of prehistoric art ever found — more than 200 paintings and 1,500 engravings of animals, including bulls, deer, oxen, herds of horses, stags, and cats, painted in various shades of yellow, red, brown, and black. There is also a single painting of a man, lying on his back as though dead, hidden off in a far corner of the cave.

Anthropologists were particularly impressed with the quality of the paintings. They were not primitive stick figures of animals, but realistic drawings with beautiful, fluid lines, showing the various creatures turning their heads, walking through water, falling off cliffs. The paintings cover the walls all the way up to the ceiling, and there were holes in the wall where the prehistoric artists inserted logs to reach the higher levels. Art historians have compared the Lascaux cave paintings to the work of Picasso. Others have called Lascaux the prehistoric Sistine Chapel.

From the Writers's Almanac

No comments: