An easel is a portable support used to hold a panel or canvas while being painted. Easel painting was known to the ancient Egyptians. In the first century CE, the Roman scholar, Pliny the Elder, makes reference of a large panel being painted placed on what must have been an easel.
During the 12th century, monks started using easel-type writing desks to help them paint their illuminated manuscripts. However, it wasn’t until the 13th century that painting on easels (and the first use of oil paints) starting replacing murals and other forms of wall painting.
The easel and easel painting developed during the Renaissance period of art. Easels forever changed the way painters worked. For the first time easel painting in an artist studio became an established art form and for the first time painters were recognized as individual artists with individual styles.
The Word Easel
The word easel comes from the Dutch word ezel, meaning “ass or donkey.”
More Painting Innovations
On September 11, 1841, John Rand patented a collapsible tube for oil paints.