The Cave Art Paintings of the Chauvet Cave
|RED HAND & MAMMOTH
The Red hand stencil and partial outline of a black mammoth, found in the Red Panels Gallery, are located more specifically on the Panel of Hand Stencils. The hand stencil has been placed inside the outline of the animal, on its flank.Researchers have been able to determine that the mammoth was drawn before the hand. The mammoth was reduced by the artist to its trunk, neck line and a short dorsal line. On either side of the outlines there are some slender marks; the one between the trunk and the red hand appears to represent the tusk.
These four horses occupy a small recess in the Chauvet Cave. They bare similar artistic attributes. The artist used fingers to mix and spread a charcoal paste and applied it in order to emphasize the main outlines and give relief and shading to the heads. Notice another figure drawn subsequently, that of a large lion drawn facing to the right [its hindquarters and tail are clearly visible], but without interrupting the lines of the earlier horses [except the lower horse].
|CENTRAL RECESS HORSE
The End Chamber of the Chauvet Cave was clearly reserved for a considered display of cave art. In the centre of the large panel is a recess which demonstrates this selectivity; only one image was drawn here. As usual the wall surface was scraped clear, and a single horse was drawn upon it. The tail of the horse was drawn into an indentation in the rock. The effect of this, on viewing the single image in this central recess, is that the animal appears to be coming out of the rock, as if the rock is simply a veil, distinguishing it yet not separating it from the spirit world.
|PANEL OF THE LIONS
The wall to the right of the central recess has a large number of animals drawn on to it. The overall scene depicts a hunt. On the right of the composition there is a rhinoceros and a mammoth. On the left, there are four bison heads, and two more rhinos. Then there are seven bison, pursued by a pride of sixteen lions, mainly depicted by their heads alone. Above all of this drama, at a different scale, there is a large feline figure shown standing face to face with a lion cub. Almost all of the animals on this panel face left. This composition is unique in Palaeolithic art.
|THE PANTHER PANEL
Ten drawings are arranged over the area. The animal figures include 3 bears, 2 felines – including a panther – 2 ibex, 3 unidentifiable animals and 1 red dot, made with the palm of the hand. The central piece of the panel is dominated by the panther and the 2 superimposed bears. Whilst the outlines are precise and ‘essential’, the figures are incomplete. The spots on the panther represent a feline coat, where as the spots on the cave bear probably suggested a thicker fur. The figures are all drawn in red. Other visible marks on the panel are attributable to bears – paw-rubs and claw marks.
|RED DOTS PANEL
This is a cave painting located near the Chauvet Cave entrance composed of a cluster of large dots, which may represent a mammoth. It is perhaps one of the earliest examples of pointillism. The scientists discovered that the dots were created by covering the palm of the right hand with wet red paint and applying the hand to the wall. The consistency of the dots suggests that the painting was created by one person. The artist would have had an image in his or her mind before beginning the piece. In other words, it appears not to be a random composition.
FIGHTING RHINO & HORSES
This is considered one of the most important panels of the Chauvet Cave. It contains twenty animals. The drama is clear to see, highlighted by the rhinoceroses confronting each other. This is unique in Palaeolithic cave art. The two rhinos were drawn at the same time, probably by the same artist. The charcoal used has been dated between approximately 30,000 and 32,000 years before present.
The four horses heads were drawn in charcoal after the rhinos as well as the other animals – two more rhinos, a stag and two mammoths – on this panel, which as elsewhere in the cave had been prepared and scraped. Of the four horses, the top one was drawn first and the lowest one drawn last. The artist who drew the horses – almost certainly one artist – mixed the charcoal with the surface clay to obtain various hues and visual effects [shading and perspective]. The technique was stump-drawing, as well as scraping the outer edges of the images to highlight them with a pale aura.