The position and independence of Bulgarian art has changed with the fate of the country. The Byzantine art has exerted a strong influence, and through subsequent centuries it can be traced alternating influences from the surrounding countries.
Broadly speaking, Bulgarian art can be divided into three major periods:
- The Byzantine-Bulgarian, 679-1393
- The Turkish, 1393-1879
- The national Bulgarian period from 1879
In Byzantine times, among the best-known works are the frescoes of the 12th-century Bashkovo monastery and the frescoes of the church in Tărnovo from around 1230. Some western features date back to the 13th century, which have been explained by the influence of the Crusaders.
In the 1600s, a style emerged that almost completely broke with the Byzantine traditions of the 1400s. Decorative elements took over, the craftsmanship flourished, often with the use of enamel and inlaid stones. As in architecture, there are also Arabic features during this period.
The painting was in decline during the Turkish rule of the 18th century. The staff elimination developed mainly under the influence of French and German. Exponent of the French-influenced painting can be mentioned P. Angelov, who worked in a Jean-François Millet- influenced style. A representative of the influence of German painting is among others N. Mikhajlov, who reflected the German painting as we know it from Arnold Böcklin and Franz von Stuck.
The latter part of the 19th century was characterized by historical painting. Only in the early 1900s did Impressionism prevail. The group Contemporary Art, founded in 1903, opened to influences from recent Western art directions; as representatives may be mentioned N. Mikhajlov and P. Morotsov. As with other Slavic people, graphics have played a prominent role in the development of art. After World War II, social realism had a prominent place in Bulgarian visual arts. Gradually, they have become more open to international flows.
Modern Bulgarian handicrafts have largely sought to combine elements of the national tradition with a modern design language.