When Was Canvas First Used in Painting?

By Susan Elliott ; Updated September 15, 2017
When Was Canvas First Used in Painting?

Canvas is a popular material for both oil, and acrylic paints. While it is a common commodity today, artists have not always had the option to use it. As art commissioners began to solicit artists from across Europe, the need for new portable materials became a necessity.

Date

Historians believe that canvas was first used in oil painting during the Renaissance period around the year A.D. 1500. Prior to this, paintings were often painted on heavy wooden planks.

Place

Italy served as the epicenter of the art world during the Renaissance. So, it is only fitting that the port city of Venice is credited as the first place canvas was used.

Material

Canvas was originally made out of hemp. It was woven into a tight weave for strength and durability.

Availability

Since Venice was a port city, and the shipping trade was booming during the 1500s, canvas was readily available. Canvas was used in many products, including sails and tents; it was in great demand for a variety of uses. The Venetian artists had no problem locating enough canvas to paint as many paintings as they desired.

Durability

Since canvas was originally created for sails and tents, it was a very strong material. Canvas was durable enough to hold the semi-caustic oil paint, so it was a perfect medium for all artists.

About the Author

Susan Elliott teaches studio art and creative writing to home schooled students. She is a graduate of Northwest Arkansas Community College and the Memphis School of Preaching Student Wives Program. She has written for Christian Woman Magazine and Virtuous Magazine. When she's not writing, she is painting or making costumes.