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The Genres

This French term refers to the different types of subjects in paintings. There is for instance the genre of landscape painting, and the genre of portraiture.

From the 16th century onwards genres were organised into a hierarchy, with the noblest form of painting - history painting - at the top, followed by portraiture, landscape painting, still life and finally the lowly everyday genre category itself. This ranking was based upon ancient literary parallels and formed the basis of academic teaching across Europe.