Lascaux Cave Paintings in France

An anonymous comment mentioned the Lascaux cave paintings on an earlier post about a sports art prize, so I thought I would see if there’s any good websites on them. I found one on the French government’s culture portal online here. There’s a “Virtual Visit” which shows paintings in each of the cave rooms (or are they called crevices? sections?.. there’s probably a word for a cave room.. Batman would know it.)

The Lascaux caves were discovered in 1940 by some teenagers chasing after their dog called Robot. They were opened up to the public, but like everything else we touch, we were destroying them. So they were closed to the public in 1963 and were restored. More recently there has also been a fungus causing damage in the caves which is believed to have been created by an air conditioning system that was installed in the caves. The cave paintings are estimated to be 16,000 years old.

lascaux paintings in france
Grouping of horses running, with a bulls head.

lascaux caves in france
This horse above looks like it was taken straight from an old Chinese ink painting.

lascaux cave paintings
Two bison. The French cave paintings are very different to the Aboriginal cave paintings in Australia that I have seen. The Lascaux paintings are so much more fluid, a bison looks like a bison, and they capture movement very well. The Australian cave paintings are more linear, still, almost like paper cutouts of the animal, and much more childlike. I’m not saying one is better than the other, just different.

french cave paintings lascaux
This is an image in the “Shaft of the Dead Man” where a bison looks over what seems to be a dead man on the ground. There’s also a rhinoceros to the left and a quirky looking bird on a stick just below the dead man.

There’s much more information and plenty of pictures on the French culture website here. I just thought I would share the website as I love cave paintings and the art of children, both for similar reasons; they don’t complicate things.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Donald Frazell says:

    Extraordinarily beautiful, and sophisticated, work. Reminds me more of early Japanese art than Chinese, the two most graphic cultures there still are. Must be French DNA as great painters, hoping to claim a little of that heritage.

    This and Minoan art are the beginnings of European culture,. The bulls and dolphins of Knossos the amalgamation of three continents, and I have always wnted to repaint them as they flow musically, and rich simple colors harmonize with the palace and its rich upside down red columns.

    Thanks Dion, wish I could see them in person.

  2. Yeah it would be nice to see them before they disappear. We do ruin everything we touch though.. we cant help ourselves. The caves would have been better off remaining undiscovered.

    When I was in Turkey I saw some nice early christian paintings in caves, which were trashed by people. Names were carved into them, people looting panels, and of course many of the faces were scratched out as a few muslims didnt appreciate the faces.

  3. EsmeraldaV says:

    I agree the Lascaux Cave paintings are trully beautiful. We are very fortunate to have the oppurtunity to view this wonderful work. Such work should never go unappreciated and undiscovered. It is really difficult to understand why the pre-historic painters drew these images. Maybe it was their only way of communication. The horses running along side the bull may have represented a time of abundance and triumph. On the other hand the upside horses or cows may have represented the down times where food was scarce or the painters felt defeated. Who knows what really went through their mind, but to have the oppurtunity to view such ancient art would be breath-taking.

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