The Middle Ages extend from the latter part of the fifth century to the time of the Renaissance, or about the fifteenth century. The painting of this period has little to attract attention if regarded only from an artistic stand-point, for we may truly say that, comparing it with the Greek art which had preceded it, or with the Italian art which followed it, that of the Middle Ages had no claim to the beautiful. On the other hand, it is full of interest to students, because it has its part in the history of art; therefore I shall give a mere outline of it, so that this link in the chain which unites ancient and modern painting may not be entirely wanting in our book.

Early mediæval painting, down to about a.d. 950, consists principally of paintings in burial-places, mosaics (usually in churches), and of miniatures, or the illustration and illumination of MSS., which were the books of that time, and were almost without exception religious writings. This period is called the Early Period of the Middle Ages, and the pictures are often called the works of Early Christian Art.

About 1050 a revival of intellectual pursuits began in some parts of Europe, and from that time it may be said that the Renaissance, or new birth of art and letters, was in its A B Cs, or very smallest beginnings. The period between 950 and 1250 is often called the Central or Romanesque Period of the Middle Ages, and it was during this time that glass-painting originated; it is one of the most interesting features of art in mediæval times.

From 1250 to 1400 comes the Final or Gothic Period of the Middle Ages, and this has some very interesting features which foretell the coming glory of the great Renaissance.