In the beginning, art painting has had a monumental character, usually made on walls, even not during all ages painting has been made on large surfaces. Later, when people felt that the beauty of a painting must circulate in different locations, "easel painting" was born. This new type of painting needed to be made on small, mobile props that could be easily moved, no matter the size of the artwork.
It is known that, most often, the nature of prop for a painting is a very important element in artwork preservation.
As the main prop for painting, canvas has been used in the old ages mostly in Italy and French, and later in Netherlands - where the canvas replaced the classic wood prop for painting. We have also proves that the ancient Greeks, 400 A.C. have used the canvas for painting. (for example Apelles - Greek artist) Also the ancient Romans as Plinius is writing.
During the Renaissance and after, canvas was preferred by painters because its size could be easily modified and the oil technique could not stand other props than canvas. And - at that time - the oil painting was preferred by all painters.
The canvas is easy, flexible, can be rolled up and can be transported. In time - because of these characteristics - canvas replaced the other paintings support. The disadvantage of canvas is that it can be easily destroyed (burn, cuts, etc.). Also it is very sensitive to dried climates and to humidity. In these conditions the canvas can not remain well stretched and it will ends by looking like a wave. Different types of canvas have different proprieties. These are the most usual canvases:
Flax canvas - it was and it is preferred by all painters. It has proved to be the most resistant and less deformable. It should be spanned from yarns having the same thickness.
Hemp canvas - It was used since antiquity, but most often in ropes making. Sometimes, hemp was used in canvas making. Hemp canvas wasn't as fine as the flax canvas was. In the beginning of XVIII century, Venetians painters started to prefer hemp canvas for paintings. Today, if it is well textured, hemp canvas can successfully replace flax canvas.
Cotton canvas - It is very soft, fiber inflates to humidity. It is not as tough or resistant as the flax canvas is. This type of canvas is recommended for small artworks, or for unstretched artworks. It is not allowed to have flax and cotton in the same canvas, because of their different characteristics, regarding flexibility, persistence, reaction to humidity. There should be only one material in canvas.