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Visual arts

A genre painting (Peasant Dance, c. 1568, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder)

The term "genre" is much used in the history and criticism of visual art, but in art history has meanings that overlap rather confusingly. Genre painting is a term for paintings where the main subject features human figures to whom no specific identity attaches

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{{#invoke:Redirect template|main}}in other words, figures are not portraits, characters from a story, or allegorical personifications. These are distinguished from staffage: incidental figures in what is primarily a landscape or architectural painting. Genre painting may also be used as a wider term covering genre painting proper, and other specialized types of paintings such as still-life, landscapes, marine paintings and animal paintings.

The concept of the "hierarchy of genres" was a powerful one in artistic theory, especially between the 17th and 19th centuries. It was strongest in France, where it was associated with the Académie française which held a central role in academic art. The genres in hierarchical order are:


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