The genres, or types of painting, were codified in the seventeenth century by the French Royal Academy. In descending order of importance the genres were History, Portrait, Genre, Landscape, and Still life. This league table, known as the hierarchy of the genres, was based on the notion of man the measure of all things - landscape and still life were the lowest because they did not involve human subject matter. History was highest because it dealt with the noblest events of human history and with religion. Source: Tate Online
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