Painting. The art of painting has been practised from very remote times. At first, however, it was employed simply to adorn sculpture. The earliest known paintings are those of the Egyptians, who used a sort of distemper (q.v.) ; the Assyrians also extensively decorated their walls with paintings, but little is known as to the development of the art in Greece, although there is little doubt that it by no means equalled their sculpture. Rome made no great advance, and it was reserved for the Italians of the middle ages to make the immense advance upon the old Byzantine school. Van Eyck (q.v.) discovered "oils," and from that time the practice of oil-painting gradually spread.