The History and Popularity of Canvas Prints

7 Mar 2024

Canvas has long been a popular medium for artists, we have taken a look at the history of canvas that has led to custom canvas prints today

For artists, one of the best ways to display art is on canvas and it has been a popular choice for many years, from oil paintings to custom canvas prints for photos.

Historically, canvases were made from tightly woven hemp, and the word actually comes from the Latin ‘made of hemp’ which originated from the Greek for ‘cannabis’.

The material became common in the 16th century during the Italian Renaissance; Venetian painters were keen on using it as it was better than frescos (mural painting of fresh or wet plaster) and wood panels.

Canvases were also large, cheap to make, and readily available, as it was also used for boat sails.

Other advantages of canvas that made it replace wood panels as a material to paint onto was that art could be done on a larger format, it was lightweight and could be rolled up for transport.

Canvas art is also less prone to warping and cracking, a common problem for wood panels.

These factors led to the use of canvas for art becoming more widespread, with the Spanish soon following the Italian’s. In the 17th century, canvas had spread around Northern Europe, taking over from panels as the dominant backing for paintings.

It was not just oil paintings that canvas was and is used for, as artists have utilised its versatility for acrylic paint, embroidery and in recent years, photo canvas prints. It is an affordable choice and offers a professional finish for artists.

Though hemp and linen were traditionally made to make canvas, the majority of canvases today are made of cotton. This keeps canvas at a reasonable price, but cotton stretches, so the artwork is less likely to crack or damage.

The cotton has a plain weave, increasing its strength, and canvases vary in the tightness of the weave, which appeals to artists. Canvas is wrapped around wooden stretchers, and a gesso layer prepares the surface for painting.

Canvases can be bought with the gesso or unprepared, giving the artist freedom to add the weave texture to their work.

With printing technology where it is today, it is no surprise artists are moving toward digitally printing their art.

High-quality inkjet printing, such as what we offer at Captain Cyan, allows photographers to display their work with extraordinary quality and definition.

For over 20 years, photographers have also been using canvas prints as a way to showcase their work, similar to how the Renaissance masters did in 16th century Italy.

What’s more, it is not even an expensive method, as high-quality printing on canvas means special moments can be captured and presented on your wall without very little fuss.

Canvas prints can be created from anything, photographs, digital art or scanning a hand-drawn piece.

It is durable and available in various sizes, so if you want your artwork to stand out, get in touch with Captain Cyan today to transform your work into something that will stand the test of time.

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