Narrative art conveys a story, presenting either a single moment within an ongoing narrative or a series of events unfolding over time.
Narrative art is a form of art that conveys a story (a narrative is essentially a story). In much of Western art until the twentieth century, the focus was on narrative art, depicting stories from various sources such as religion, mythology, legend, history, and literature, often seen in history painting. It was assumed that audiences were already familiar with these stories.
Starting around the seventeenth century, genre painting emerged, portraying scenes and narratives from everyday life. In the Victorian era, narrative paintings of ordinary life became immensely popular and are often considered a distinct category known as Victorian narrative painting.
In modern art, formalist principles have led to a decreased emphasis on narrative. However, artists still incorporate coded references to political, social issues, or personal events. These works can be seen as contemporary allegories and typically require insights from the artist to be fully understood. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Pablo Picasso's ‘Guernica’.