Have you ever wondered what are the most famous paintings in the world and how were they painted?
Look no further, here is a selection of the most famous paintings of all time that are recognized by people all over the world and of all ages.
These famous artworks will continue to resonate and leave impressions in the minds of people for centuries to come.
The list of famous painters and their paintings in the world also includes the description of these popular paintings, to help understand their significance in art history.
Here are the top 47 famous paintings by the world’s best artists.
Table of contents
- Mona Lisa
- The Last Supper
- The Starry Night
- The Girl with The Pearl Earring
- The Scream
- Salvator Mundi
- The Kiss
- The Birth of Venus
- The Creation of Adam
- Las Meninas
- The Arnolfini Portrait
- Water Lilies’ Series
- The Night Watch
- The Persistence of Memory
- The Garden of Earthly Delights
- Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
- American Gothic
- Whistler’s Mother
- The Storm on The Sea of Galilee
- Liberty Leading the People
- A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
- The Flower Carrier
- Wanderer above the Sea of Fog
- Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
- Starry Night over the Rhône
- Luncheon of The Boating Party
- The Son of Man
- Café Terrace at Night
- The School of Athens
- No. 5, 1948
- The Third of May
- Van Gogh Self-Portrait (Without Beard)
- Lady with an Ermine
- The Great Wave off Kanagawa
- Le Déjeuner Sur L’herbe
- The Sleeping Gypsy
- Christina’s World
- Bal du Moulin de la Galette
- The Swing
- Nude Descending a Staircase
- Hope II
- The Large Bathers
- From The Author!
1. Mona Lisa
A portrait of a female (or is it?) clothed in a Florentine manner, seated in a dreamlike backdrop with an expression beyond one’s understanding.
That’s the Mona Lisa for you – a name that can never be forgotten, a masterpiece by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Mona Lisa is perhaps the most recognized painting in the world, making it rank 1st in the list of famous paintings.
In fact, very few people know that there is something called “The Mona Lisa illusion” in psychology. It is the reason why photographers ask you to look at the camera while taking photographs.
But why is Mona Lisa’s painting so famous?
Apart from being:
A. One of the first paintings to depict the sitter in front of a landscape.
B. One of the first paintings to use Aerial perspective in a painting.
C. One of the first paintings to use the Sfumato style of painting.
D. One of the first paintings to have secret lovers.
E. One of the first paintings to be vandalized uncountable times.
The list is endless.
The Mona Lisa portrait painting became a household name in 1911, especially after it was stolen by an ex-employee of the Louvre Museum.
Some have romanticized her as a mysterious seductress, while others doubted her to be nothing in Da Vinci’s self-portrait.
The identity of the Mona Lisa has become a mythology and you can definitely uncover this long-sitting mystery in our in-depth analysis of the Mona Lisa.
And Da Vinci never seemed to be able to really depart from Mona Lisa.
He worked on it for 20 years and even carried her wherever he went throughout the journey of completing the painting.
A lot of art researchers also say that the Mona Lisa remains an incomplete painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
But the truth can never be really discovered!
The only solace we can find is knowing that this famous painting is now home.
After all, she has gone through, the Mona Lisa is now safely kept in the Louvre Museum in Paris and is open for human viewing.
This reminds me that Leonardo did not just paint on poplar panels. He could paint an entire church if he wanted to – taking me to the second most famous paintings of all time.
2. The Last Supper
A classical painting taken straight out of the Bible, The Last Supper, is an artistic rendition of the last time Jesus sat to eat with his disciples before his crucifixion.
The Last Supper is a classic example of pure surprise and tension.
The painting is a depiction of the next few seconds in the story when Christ discloses about a disciple betraying him.
It may come as a shock to the readers that this famous artwork is, in fact, a failed experiment.
Leonardo used tempura paint instead of the traditional wet plaster, which led the painting to flake out in a couple of decades.
Don’t you worry; we still have two copies of the original – one in the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Belgium and the other in the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Switzerland.
If you still want more, our artists will paint your Last Supper replica, and you won’t be able to find the difference.
Despite all odds, it undoubtedly remains one of the most important paintings of all time, both for its innovative approach and for the impact it had on all the successive artists.
3. The Starry Night
You’re right; the third on the list of famous paintings is, without any qualms, The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh.
Widely hailed as his magnum opus, this painting’s beauty is timeless and universal.
The Starry Night, a world-famous painting, is visually arresting with its striking blues, yellows, and the swirling pattern that creates movement in art.
The painting has intrigued artists and students likewise. In fact, it is one of those paintings that has been adapted for commercialization.
Only a few know that this painting was a hope for van Gogh in his time of distress.
Suffering from bouts of depression and paranoia, van Gogh painted this work of art in the asylum of Saint Paul de Mausole near Saint Remy de Provence.
Van Gogh posthumously became one of the most famous painters in the history of Western art.
This popular art now hangs on the walls of The Museum of Modern Art, in New York.
For most people who don’t know, it was because of his sister-in-law, that The Starry Night reached success. She promoted his works and exhibitions, which she inherited from van Gogh’s brother.
The next on the list, can you guess it?
4. The Girl with The Pearl Earring
Johannes Vermeer’s mysterious artwork and the Mona Lisa of the North – that is what the painting is infamous for.
This famous classical painting is an excellent example of Baroque-style painting.
Among all the famous paintings in the world, The Girl with The Pearl Earring is known for its excellent use of light.
The girl, on the threshold of womanhood, wearing a striking blue and yellow turban and a glistening pearl earring, gives an almost neutral expression.
The black backdrop guides the focus towards the woman, and suddenly, everything falls into place.
Housed in a splendid 17th-century palace in The Hague, the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, Netherlands.
This artwork comes under the best paintings in the world, but it is not a portrait painting. It is, but in fact, a ‘tronie’ – a painting of an imaginary figure.
There have been a lot of arguments over this painting. But what really is the painting about? You can read it here!
And if you wish to own it, even better.
5. The Scream
The Scream, originally titled ‘The Scream of Nature’, is not a single work of famous art.
Munch created 4 different versions of it – two in oil and two in pastel.
It is also considered a scary painting due to the intensity that the painting expresses.
This famous art painting has come to symbolize the anxiety and anguish of the human mind.
The painting style is a classic Art-Nouveau.
Contrary to the name, the painting is now about a scream of the artist. It is in fact, a defense against an external scream that the artist could hear.
The concept is layered, and this is a painting with deep meaning.
Munch was clearly going through psychological distress when he experienced something like this.
The Scream got its inspiration from the time Munch was taking a sunset stroll with his friends in Oslo. As the color of the sky changed to a dramatic red hue, Munch suddenly experienced what could most likely be a schizophrenic-panic attack.
He could hear a scream coming from nature, and all he could do was try to close his ears.
When you dive deeper into The Scream, you will be shocked halfway through, as it has the most spine-chilling backstory.
However, there are audiences who like to consume such stories and show interest in owning a reproduction art of The Scream.
If, however, you want to have a look at the original painting, you can always visit the National Museum and Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway.
6. Salvator Mundi
Not just one of the most famous, but Salvator Mundi is also one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
A famous portrait painting of a half-length figure of Christ as Savior of the World – that is what Salvator Mundi is.
This historical painting of Jesus shows him dressed in Renaissance-era robes, giving blessings with two of his right fingers extended.
But the most interesting part of the painting is the Glass Orb that he holds in his hand. It shows Christ not just as the savior of the world but also as the master of the cosmos.
For a very long time, this almost transparent Orb has stood as a mystery for art researchers and scientists. It has arisen debates like whether or not the painting was at all the work of Da Vinci.
But what exactly is wrong with the orb? Read here.
As for the painting, it has gone through a lot of damage, theft, and discomfort – just like the Mona Lisa.
However, the discovery of the lost painting was announced in 2011.
Today, the painting is acquired by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism for the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
7. The Kiss
This famous painting portrays a passionate couple in a loving embrace.
In fact, this is the only painting by Gustav Klimt that actually has a male presence.
Two lovers with their bodies tangled in complex decorative robes, the painting represented the apex of the artist’s “Golden Period.
It is one of those famous pieces of art that was created by Byzantine artistic influences.
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt is an icon of the Jugendstil – Viennese Art Nouveau – and is known as Klimt’s most popular painting.
The entire painting was an oil-on-canvas painting with added gold leaf, silver, and platinum.
Did you know that during the end of World War II, most of Klimt’s paintings were destroyed by the German Troops? But “The Kiss” still lives.
This popular painting is in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Museum in Austria and is known as a masterpiece of the early modern period.
How about having this famous painting from the museum on your walls? Own your original The Kiss famous painting at an affordable price.
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Location||Museo Reina Sofía|
Pablo Picasso and his controversies are never-ending. But what makes it to the list of famous paintings is his Guernica.
Guernica is not only a famous painting but also a powerful political statement.
It is an unflinching portrayal of the tragedies of war.
This is the greatest painting of all time and was inspired by the Spanish War.
It came out as an anti-war statement and embodied peace.
Picasso moved ‘Guernica’ to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York for safekeeping during World War II, and insisted that it stayed there until democracy returned to Spain.
Guernica is also one of the earliest politically inclined pieces.
In fact, another stage of Guernica also involved a color, but who could so such a tragedy in colors?
There is more to this world-famous painting than just a political statement. It is a cry, and you can read more about it in our blog – Guernica by Picasso.
This painting was finally brought home to Madrid in 1981.
The Museo Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid has kept the painting permanently exhibited for the masses since 1992.
9. The Birth of Venus
|Year||1484 – 1486|
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Location||Uffizi Gallery, Florence|
Sandro Botticelli’s painting masterpiece, The Birth of Venus, is the first of its kind to portray a nude woman so openly.
Bringing renewed interest in classical Greek culture with the Early Renaissance style, this historical painting is known for its unconventional and controversial style.
The Birth of Venus creates an unforgettable figure of the Goddess of Love emerging from a huge scallop shell.
The art-loving Medici Family possibly commissioned it.
A lot of people claim that the figure of the Goddess of Love is modeled after one Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, a woman whose favors were allegedly shared by Lorenzo and his younger brother.
Unsurprisingly, this famous piece of art attracted the ire of Savonarola, a Dominican monk.
His infamous campaigns, like the “Bonfire of the Vanities” of 1497, included the burning of “profane” and “obscene” objects – books, artworks, anything.
The Birth of Venus was, too, scheduled for the incineration, but it magically escaped destruction.
However, this did leave a scar on Botticelli, and he gave up painting for a while.
The painting now peacefully rests at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
10. The Creation of Adam
A painting directly taken from a Biblical narrative from the Book of Genesis, The Creation of Adam, is a historical painting.
A still from the time when God breathed life into Adam, the first man on Earth.
Outstretched arms of God and Adam against contrasting backdrops and bipolar energies, this famous painting is a Renaissance masterpiece.
It is, perhaps, one of the most replicated religious images in history.
With God on one side and Adam on the other, this painting is a depiction of power dynamics and how, with just a touch of God’s finger, Adam will live.
Said to be Michelangelo’s greatest painting, The Creation of Adam is a fresco covering a section of the Sistine Chapel.
It is not easy to interpret historical paintings in a contemporary context, but Michelangelo’s paintings have proved otherwise.
His extensive grasp of human anatomy hints to art historians that everything in this painting has an explanation.
For its exclusivity and complexity, The Creation of Adam takes the 10th position among the most iconic paintings.
11. Las Meninas
Las Meninas, for those who haven’t heard about this painting, is but a life depiction of King Philip IV of Spain.
But why does it stand in the 11th position of the world’s most famous paintings?
Simple, because of its complex and enigmatic composition.
Upon being looked at, the painting creates an uncomfortable relationship between the viewer and the subjects.
This is one of the most complex classical paintings and was voted the most famous painting in 1985.
If translated, Las Meninas means “Ladies-in-Waiting”. It was a break from the stiff royalty portraits into a snapshot-like painting.
What makes it so known is the element of the unknown in the painting.
There is a shadow figure in the background; the image of the King and Queen looks mysterious; the subjects seem to be looking at you, but they are not.
It gives a lot of Arnolfini Portrait vibe but quite isn’t
This old work of art raises questions about reality and illusion and is a painting with deep painting. However, it isn’t something that we can uncover anytime soon.
Housed at the popular and vast Prado Museum, Las Meninas is not only Diego Velázquez’s most famous painting of people, but it is also one of his largest.
Which reminds me: next up is –
12. The Arnolfini Portrait
The Arnolfini Portrait is a visually intriguing piece among the famous portrait paintings and is considered a masterpiece in the history of art.
The painting depicts the Italian businessperson Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, presumptively, in their house in the Flemish town of Bruges.
A brushwork so fine the effect seems photographic, with intense detailing and featuring real-world perspectives on an otherwise objective subject.
The iconography and symbolism of the painting are endless and highly complex.
Perhaps the most noted symbol is the mirror behind the couple on the wall.
The room that the couple is standing in can be perceived to be quite small.
But a simple addition of the mirror has magically created a real-world perspective to the painting.
It also adds an element of space to the otherwise congested painting.
This painting was not just revolutionary because it accurately depicted a 15th-century household. It is also the oldest and most famous surviving example of an oil medium.
Today, the painting artwork hangs in the National Gallery of London, UK.
13. Water Lilies’ Series
|Medium||Oil on Canvas|
|Location||Metropolitan Museum of Art|
Claude Monet, also known as The Father of Expressionism, spent three decades of his life painting more than 250 Water Lilies paintings.
He considered this as his greatest achievement in life and did not fail to capture the realism of the subject.
The ever-shifting effects of light, water, reflections, and the surroundings are the most important elements of this series. But over time, his work became less about constituent elements and orientation and more about the obliquely structured compositions and focused on pure vivid color.
Water Lilies opened the path to abstract painting, and Claude Monet’s paintings became a precedent for later artists.
The paintings mostly depicted his flower garden at his home in Giverny, where he spent the last 30 years of his life.
He had already produced a couple of famous artworks during his peak, but the Water Lilies series made Monet a post-humous artist-hero.
Now, the Metropolitan Museum of Art displays some of his paintings from this series, while most of it has been bought by wealthy businessmen.
14. The Night Watch
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Period||Dutch Golden Age Painting|
Known as a top famous painting by a very famous artist, Rembrandt, The Night Watch is a Baroque masterpiece.
Rembrandt was a master of light manipulation, and this painting depicts it the best.
The Night Watch depicts the dramatic use of sunlight and shade to draw the eye to the central characters in the scene.
Rembrandt was the first to show the figures in a group portrait in action.
Interestingly, although the painting suggests that it is a Night Scene, it is, in fact, Rembrandt’s classic manipulation.
The painting is, in fact, a morning scene and a depiction of a military group in motion.
The painting measures a colossal 3.63m x 4.37, and the dramatic use of light and shadow makes The Night Watch a peak Dutch Golden Age painting.
The artwork hangs in the Rijksmuseum Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, as the best-known painting in its collection.
You can own The Night Watch by commissioning a reproduction painting from her.
15. The Persistence of Memory
Who else, if not the most celebrated Surrealist icon, Salvador Dali? The Persistence of Memory is one of the most recognized works of art.
As an artwork, it has come to represent an entire movement of surrealism.
Depicting a dismal shoreline draped with melting clocks, a creepy creature, and an uncanny landscape, this painting is a hallucination.
Instead of rendering a fantastical world in hasty brushstrokes and arbitrary colors, Dali painted familiar objects in unfamiliar ways.
Although, it is said that Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity inspires this eccentric piece.
But what was it that Dali tried to convey through this painting?
It was just an escape to a dreamscape to tell us that our subliminal unconscious mind has more power over us than man-made objects of the conscious world.
In fact, Dali was himself high on psychedelics when he ideated this painting.
But there still are a lot of secrets behind the Melting Clock Painting.
16. The Garden of Earthly Delights
Of all Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings, The Garden of Earthly Delights was not one but a culmination of a variety of paintings.
The painting was about creation, human futility, and damnation, a depiction of the fleetingness of human life.
One of the famous paintings, the work describes the union of Adam and Eve on the left panel, the romp on the central panel, and Hell on the right panel.
His work is known not only for being innovative with provoking symbolism but also for its ability to harness timeless human urges.
It reflects its viewers with relevance, showcasing the fiery fate of humanity consumed by passion and pleasure.
The intricacies of its symbolism, particularly the central panel, have attracted the minds of many art scholars.
This famous painting particularly may have a deep meaning.
It starts with the union of Adam and Eve, moving towards a world indulging in sexual sin to finally, a man being pushed into hell.
Moral compass point hell? That’s pretty much what it is about!
It could have been due to the heavy influence of a conservative religious group called the Brotherhood of Our Lady.
Currently, the painting is housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.
17. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
One of the most controversial artworks, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by *drumroll* Pablo Picasso, is a proto-cubist painting of 5 naked prostitutes.
A brothel-inspired subject matter along with its non-classical style of painting, this painting was a revolution.
It was a never-seen depiction of women standing in a disconcerting, confrontational manner, and none is conventionally feminine.
In fact, the figures seemed disjointed with angular faces, making the painting an amalgamation of Cubist and African painting styles.
It is said that Picasso adapted ethnic primitivism for this particular painting because it moved him to “liberate an utterly original artistic style of compelling, even savage forces.”
As of today, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
But it was originally supposed to be in the Louvre. However, the then owner, Jacques Doucet, could not keep his promise.
He promised to donate the painting to the Louvre Museum after his demise. But his will stated the painting to be sold to the Museum of Modern Art for $24,000.
18. American Gothic
Painted with oil on Beaver Board, American Gothic is Grant Wood’s most impressive and famous painting.
It is a prime example of Regionalism, a movement that featured depictions of rural American subjects rendered in a realistic style.
The figures that are often misunderstood as husband and wife are, in fact, father and daughter.
Perhaps the models of the painting were Wood’s dentist and sister, and it became the most famous painting in the world instantaneously.
The name of this famous piece of art is a wordplay. It is named after an architectural style – Carpenter Gothic – a style that took over the entire America during the mid-19th century.
The window of the house is the main element of the painting. He believed that a French window of this sort was a little “pretentious” for such a humble house architecture.
American Gothic screams of American values during a time of uncertainty. The painting remains an ambiguous mixture of praise and satire.
To know in-depth, read American Gothic while the painting sits peacefully in the Art Institute of Chicago.
19. Whistler’s Mother
Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 or Whistler’s Mother, better known as the painting that Mr. Bean almost destroyed (lol).
Jokes aside, this painting is a popular painting in the pursuit of art for art’s sake.
James McNeil Whistler painted his mother, Anna McNeil Whistler, with a formalist approach.
Her rigid expressions fell flawlessly with the various elements that were locked into an arrangement of right angles.
Whistler was successful in depicting his style in tonal compositions and harmony.
The overall painting brought in a balance between the different shapes in the picture.
But despite his formalist attempts, the painting became famous as a symbol of motherhood.
This popular painting got very political during World War 1. It was co-opted by the Irish Canadian Rangers 199th Overseas Battalion to encourage volunteers to enlist.
Although the painting received a mixed review, it is still on the list of the top 20 most famous paintings in the world.
Whistler’s Mother hangs in the Musée d’Orsay Museum of Paris, France, since 2019.
20. The Storm on The Sea of Galilee
Another Rembrandt, another story – but this time, a painting that isn’t.
You read that right!
Storm on the Sea of Galilee is a stolen painting that has not been recovered in the last 30 years.
Known to be one of Rembrandt’s most dynamic and dramatic works of art, this is a seascape painting.
The Biblical scene represents Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee. It puts nature against human vulnerability; however, it also shows faith in a seemingly calm and unbothered Christ who will save them.
The large-scale image has overwhelming effects to seize our attention and immerse us in an unfolding pictorial drama.
The peak of it all?
The image of the artist looking straight into the viewer’s eyes from the painting – almost as a mockery.
Who is, after all, the orchestrator of Storm on the Sea of Galilee? Christ or the artist?
The famous painting in history is recognized not only for depicting a sacred story but also for the vivid brushstrokes that almost make the canvas look lifelike.
Unfortunately, this painting was stolen in the World’s biggest art heist – the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist on March 18, 1990, never to be discovered again.
21. Liberty Leading the People
Liberty Leading the People, another painting in the Louvre Museum, was Eugène Delacroix’s most political painting.
Contrary to what most people believe, this painting was not even about the French Revolution.
In fact, Delacroix was never politically oriented.
This painting was just supposed to be a depiction of what he saw during the July Revolution of 1830.
Liberty Leading the People was a commemoration of the victory over King Charles X of France.
An allegorical painting in which a woman carrying the Tricolor French flag is represented as the Revolution.
Behind the lady, there is an agglomeration of the different strata of French society that indicate “Liberty and Freedom for all.”
This painting is one of the well-known paintings of France and has inspired a number of books, movies, and even drama.
To top it all, this painting was an inspiration for The Statue of Liberty.
A classic example of the Romanticism style of art, this painting has been home – where it is supposed to be – since 2013.
22. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
George Seurat, a famous Post-Impressionist artist, suddenly decided to introduce Pointillism as a painting style.
According to him, if dots were properly placed with colors, one could easily make sense of the image.
A Sunday Afternoon is the very first example of Pointillism.
This painting is the second most famous French painting after Liberty Leading the People.
It features a scene along the Seine River where Parisians are seen doused in the sunshine, taking shade beneath trees and umbrellas, enjoying the weather.
A typical Sunday evening in Paris.
Proving his theory, he used tiny juxtaposed dots of multi-colored paint to allow the viewer’s eye to blend colors optically.
A Sunday Afternoon is considered one of the most pivotal works of art ever put onto canvas.
It is a synonym for revolution and has paved the way for important modern art movements.
The painting sits in the Art Institute of Chicago, North America.
23. The Flower Carrier
The Flower Carrier is one of the various Mexican paintings that challenge Capitalism – what else would you expect from the Communist Diego Rivera?
This popular art displays a Mexican peasant painfully struggling while carrying a basket of flowers on his back and a woman trying to help him with the weight.
The boldness of colors, the asymmetrical balance, and the oversized bucket leave no doubt: the man is carrying an unbearable burden, not a flower – the unbearable lightness of Capitalism.
Diego Rivera or most of you would know him better as the husband of Frida Kahlo, is widely considered to be the greatest Mexican painter of the 20th century.
Illustrated to reflect individualism, some believe that the painting is a representation of the struggles of the workers, especially peasants, in a modern, capitalistic world.
The Flower Carrier is a meaningful, famous painting that possesses simplicity and yet exudes symbolism.
This painting is currently located at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA.
24. Wanderer above the Sea of Fog
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is considered one of the masterpieces of the Romantic movement.
This painting by Casper David Friedrich is a representation of self-reflection and contemplation.
An old man standing on the rock is unhinged by the storm of fog around him.
Almost in a meditative state, this man is mostly contemplating his life path.
Friedrich used the landscape as a way of expressing profound experience.
The painting is regarded as one of the best landscape paintings of all time.
Although Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is not a real view, it was pieced together from different places visited by Friedrich.
Much like most works of Romanticism, the cornerstone of Friedrich’s painting is intense and focuses on emotions.
His art has also helped shape the romantic movement, with this painting displaying individualism, subjectivity, spirituality, and the love of nature.
It can be safely considered one of the historically significant artworks.
This painting hangs in the museum in Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany.
25. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
Gustav Klimt’s The Lady in Gold, much like his previously mentioned work, falls under his Golden Period.
The painting was made of oil with gold leaves across the painting.
It was said to have been commissioned by a rich industrialist for his wife, Adele Block-Bauer.
However, Klimt’s Casanova reputation made a lot of them believe that she, in fact, had an affair with Klimt.
The painting was later stolen by Nazis in 1941, who renamed it The Woman in Gold to remove any Jewish connotation to the title.
The family of Bloch-Bauer fought for 60 years to get it back into their possession.
The entire story was filled with mystery, corruption, and double dealings, which finally ended in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Despite the gold and glitter on the painting, Adele Bloch-Bauer I represents the tragic story of Jewish dispossession at the hands of the Nazis.
The work is an unattainable distillation of feminine beauty and is regarded as one of the most unearthly famous paintings.
Today, the painting is on display at the Neue Galerie New York City.
26. Starry Night over the Rhône
That is pretty much Van Gogh’s inspiration for creating so many Starry Night paintings.
Starry Night over the Rhône was also such artwork that captures the reflections of the gaslighting in Arles across the glimmering blue water of the Rhone.
Along with two lovers in the foreground, he shows his stars’ glow with a luminescence, shining from the dark, blue, and velvety night sky.
The spot was only a minute or two’s walk from The Yellow House, which van Gogh was renting during his stay.
He was immensely moved by the night sky and the experience of the endless darkness on the bank of the river.
Van Gogh even mentioned this experience in his letter, saying, “Once I went for a walk along the deserted shore at night. It was not cheerful; it was not sad – it was beautiful.”
Starry Night over the Rhône was, in fact, painted before his famous, The Starry Night.
Unlike Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night, Starry Night over the Rhône was an inaccurate placement of the Big Bear constellation in the heavens.
As of today, this painting hangs in the Musèe d’Orsay, Paris, France.
27. Luncheon of The Boating Party
Known as the most versatile Impressionist Painter, the Luncheon of the Boating Party is Auguste Renoir’s most renowned work.
Set on the sunny balcony of the Maison Fournaise, a café, rowboat rental, and hotel on the banks of the Îsle de Chatou, Paris, overlooking the Seine.
The painting captures a joyous moment among friends and is Renoir’s largest painting.
The location was an adored destination for diners across class lines. He had a fascination for such places and often brought models and pretty patrons to paint there.
Luncheon of the Boating Party is a celebration of refined brushwork, full of rich colors that reflect Renoir’s signature subjects – Portraiture, Still-Life Depictions, and en Plein air setting.
Out of all the famous portraits, this portrait can be viewed in the Philips Collection, Washington, DC.
For most of you who don’t know, the restaurant can still be visited today.
28. The Son of Man
To sum up René Magritte’s The Son of Man, it is “Everything we see hides another thing; we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”
The painting depicts a man in an overcoat and a bowler hat standing with a floating apple covering his face.
The only visible feature is one of his eyes peeling over the edge of the apple.
The backdrop is that of the sea and a cloudy sky.
At the start of 1946, Magritte was painting in both his realist style and his impressionist style.
In fact, this isn’t Magritte’s only apple-centric painting, just the famous one.
A few critics believe that it is a religious painting, while others feel that it is, instead, a self-portrait.
What’s interesting is that the actual painting is rare to see.
Although Son of Man replicas are common across the world, and you can get one here.
But the original painting was last spotted in 2011 in Montreal.
To date, this painting remains the most iconic image of the Surrealism Movement.
29. Café Terrace at Night
Of all the classic paintings, The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum is one of its kind.
Painted at Night in Arles, France, the painting was subject to some criticism during its time.
The painting portrays the café in a brightly lit, yellow light in contrast to dark streets and the starry night sky.
His subjects are dining in the café with harsh lights.
Café Terrace at Night was the cue to van Gogh’s greatest painting, The Starry Night.
Even though it looks like it, van Gogh managed to create the painting without using the most primary colors – black and white.
Instead, he heavily relied on different arrays of blues and yellows to paint the night scene.
With the increasing popularity of the artwork, the café had to be refurbished in 1991 to replicate van Gogh’s painting.
The painting is at the Kroller Muller Museum in Ontario.
30. The School of Athens
The School of Athens is one of the most famous Raphael paintings of the Renaissance period.
The picture is Raphael’s masterpiece and an absolute personification of the classical spirit of the Renaissance.
The painting features legendary figures from different times, including Aristotle and Plato, gathered together under the same roof.
This was also Raphael’s second painting depicting philosophy as a branch of knowledge and was painted in his early 20s.
The School of Athens was such a complicated painting that even a maestro like Raphael faced a challenge in trying to distinguish the philosophers.
He also included a self-portrait of himself, standing next to Ptolemy, looking right out at its viewers.
He painted this as a part of his commission to paint the rooms, which are known as Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace.
There are many renowned paintings by Raphael that portray Renaissance art, but The School of Athens remains world-popular.
31. No. 5, 1948
No. 5 is a famous painting by Jackson Pollock, the master of Abstract Expressionism.
This painting is a combination of colors and abstract forms.
It creates a balance in the composition of art through several splatters, lines, and shapes.
Due to its abstract formation, it is unique to each viewer, which makes it one of the most recognizable paintings of the 20th century.
In this painting, Pollock uses new techniques to express his emotions with colors and lines.
Drips and splashes replaced the forsaken brushstrokes.
Pollock used a unique method to make his drips.
Rather than working from an easel, Pollock would place his canvas on the ground and pace around it. He then applied paint by dripping it from hardened brushes, sticks, and basting syringes.
No.5 is so famous that it is often regarded as the marker of the birth of ‘Action Painting’.
Guided by emotion and intuition, he dropped and flung the paint on the demands of his muse.
This took the art world on fire with his impromptu masterworks.
It is a part of a private collection in New York now.
32. The Third of May
Francisco Goya, who created one of the most scary paintings, Saturn Devouring His Son, is more famous for his The Third of May.
This painting took inspiration from Napoleon’s defeat by the Spanish forces and speaks about liberation, particularly in the context of Spain’s turbulent history.
The Third of May masterfully plays with light and shadow, creating an allure for the viewers.
There is more than one name for the painting, and it goes by variant titles, including – The Shootings of May 3, The Third of May 1808 in Madrid, or The Executions.
The daring artistic choices in the piece earned critics’ soon. The use of blood, an unpopular artistic device, to depict Spanish civilians looking like a bramble of humanity brought a lot of negative reviews.
A lot of critics also found a way to question him due to his loyalty to usurper Joseph Bonaparte.
Francisco Goya swore as the Court’s painter and mentioned The Third of May to be his apology to the Spanish people.
The probationary government of the European nation commissioned the piece of art at Goya’s suggestion.
It is on display at Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.
33. Van Gogh Self-Portrait (Without Beard)
Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait Without Beard is undoubtedly one of the most notable paintings of all time.
Van Gogh once wrote to his brother Theo, “People say – and I’m quite willing to believe it – that it’s difficult to know oneself – but it’s not easy to paint oneself either.”
He painted his Self Portrait without Beard after his relationship with Gauguin boiled over.
The melancholy resonated with him, and it was pretty evident in the painting.
Art historians assume that masters like Rembrandt and van Gogh used a mirror to paint their own self-images. However, Vincent did not strictly stick with this practice.
Mostly, van Gogh painted his own figure from memory.
While he has painted many portraits before, this is perhaps his most famous portrait. It’s one of the few portraits of himself without a beard.
Van Gogh’s last self-portrait now hangs in the Museum d’Orsay, Paris, France.
Manet’s most famous painting, Olympia, was not available to the public’s eye until 2 years after its completion.
It is regarded as a highly scandalous painting at the time for featuring an unclad female.
It created a much bigger furor since the conformists and conservatives of the period were shocked by the nudity.
It was labeled outright vulgar and obscene.
A nude painting of a woman lying on an oriental stole on a couch with a maid standing next to her with a big bouquet of flowers.
The look on the maid’s face normalizes the nudity.
But what was so interesting about Manet’s Olympia?
It mocked art history!
Manet and his fellow Realists wanted art to reflect the truth about modern life rather than some old-world fantasy. That is what Olympia was all about.
But it did not work out well for Manet during its exhibition.
Olympia received various threats due to its unconventional nature. In fact, the Salon had to take additional precautions for the threats.
Today, this painting is at Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
35. Lady with an Ermine
Painted on a wooden panel in oil, this widely attributed and famous artwork portrays a half-length figure of a woman.
Cecilia Gallerani can be identified as the subject, and the artist remains the world-famous Leonardo da Vinci.
Wait a minute, can you tell me how many Leonardo da Vinci paintings are on the list? Because I have lost the count!
Lady with an Ermine is a portrait painting of Cecilia holding an ermine in her arms.
Despite having a three-quarter position, both their faces are slightly to their left as if turned to see someone.
This gave viewers room for psychological introspection.
The enigmatic smile on Cecilia’s face suddenly takes us to a Mona Lisa-istic realm.
As expected, the painting stirred various speculations about the completion of the painting.
One of the most famous portraits, Lady with an Ermine, is in Poland and keeps traveling to different locations, including The Princes Czartoryski Museum, Wawel Royal Castle, and National Museum in Krakow.
36. The Great Wave off Kanagawa
The Great Wave off Kanagawa is a famous painting by a Japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai.
Though the painting is majorly themed around waves, it is also hiding Mount Fuji in the background. In fact, the print is a part of his famous series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.
The painting, or rather the print, depicts the area around Mount Fuji under particular storm-like weather.
While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is likely to be a large rogue wave.
The woodblock print is one of the most iconic Japanese artworks in the world.
The painting is famous for its rich hues, particularly the blue tones – which helped create subtle gradations in this dramatic composition.
It is estimated the 5000 to 8000 prints were made of The Great Wave off Kanagawa. But with time, the quality has deteriorated.
The earlier the print, the more highly valued it is.
Even after almost 200 years, Hokusai’s Great Waves has inspired countless works of contemporary art, including a monumental mural in Moscow and many more.
Today, original prints of The Great Wave are in some of the world’s top museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the British Museum.
37. Le Déjeuner Sur L’herbe
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Location||Musée d’Orsay, Paris|
Another masterpiece by Édouard Manet, Le Déjeuner Sur L’herbe, or The Luncheon on the Grass, originally titled Le Bain, is a large oil on canvas painting.
Controversial, like his Olympia, this painting depicts a female nude and a scantily dressed female bather on a picnic with two fully dressed men in a rural setting.
The clothed man was Manet’s relative, and the nude woman was Manet’s favorite model.
The 16th-century work of art, The Pastoral Concert and The Judgement of Paris was Manet’s inspiration for this artwork.
This large-scale painting has become Manet’s – and modern day’s – most famous work of art.
The artist displayed this painting at the Salon des Refusés because the Paris Salon jury rejected this controversial painting.
By portraying an ordinary scene on such a large scale, Manet validated the mundane subjects.
It inspired Impressionists like Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir to follow suit with Water Lilies and The Luncheon of the Boating Party, respectively.
In fact, this painting helped Manet emerge as the Father of Impressionism.
This stirring painting hangs in Muée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
38. The Sleeping Gypsy
|Medium||oil on canvas|
|Location||Museum of Modern Art|
“There are two ways of expressing things; one is to show them crudely, the other is to evoke them artistically.”
The Sleeping Gypsy does precisely this. Pained by the famous Henri Rousseau, it creates a dream-like atmosphere.
The painting depicts a dark-skinned Romani sleeping peacefully while a large lion sniffs her, almost transfixed.
Featuring a black woman was quintessential for the painting as it represented the outcasts of society who were referred to in France as Bohémiens.
Although these Indo-Aryan ethnic people were originally from Eastern Europe and Anatolia, they were often misidentified as being from either Bohemia or Egypt.
Simple geometric designs bring attention to Rousseau’s remarkable illustrative imagination.
The Sleeping Gypsy takes its aspiration from the preindustrial past, reflecting modernism.
However, the painting was heavily ridiculed by art critics. His peculiar style of art could not make a space in the hearts of his audience.
He gradually found success with the emerging Avant-Garde artists.
Displayed at the MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, today, this painting has become world famous for its desert scape and progressive techniques.
39. Christina’s World
Known as one of the most famous painters of the 20th Century in the U.S.
Andrew Wyeth, the painter of Christina’s World, was recognized for depicting the realistic rural American landscape.
Christina features a young woman seen from behind, wearing a pastel dress and lying on a grassy field.
Although she appears to be strangely alert and tense, her gaze is fixated on the distant farmhouse.
Wyeth knew Olson, the physically impaired model, personally. She was unable to walk properly due to a nervous disorder.
But the artist’s only motive was “to make the viewer sense that her world may be limited physically but by no means spiritually.”
In fact, Olson was a recurring muse for Wyeth.
Christina’s World is undoubtedly an iconic famous painting, but its place in the art pantheon is still a matter of debate for many.
The painting is at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City today.
“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint,” – When Edward Hopper said this, he decided to paint his most famous masterpiece, Nighthawks.
This is one of the best realism paintings depicting four modern subjects at a dinner table.
And it is bigger than you might expect. Nighthawks may seem like a small painting like the Mona Lisa’s, but it roughly measures 2.75 feet by 5 feet.
Most people don’t know, but Hemingway’s short story, The Killer, inspired Hopper to create the painting.
Just like the short story that has the sense of something about to happen, the painting, too, gives out similar vibes.
To some extent, it is also inspired by Van Gogh’s Café Terrace.
Overall, this famous painting primarily focuses on “wartime isolation, ” which gave birth to Post-Modernism after WWII.
If looked closely, the painting appears to feel lonely regardless of who each person is.
The diner is said to be based in the long-demolished Hopper’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.
The painting is on display at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
41. Bal du Moulin de la Galette
Bal du Moulin de la Galette is considered to be one of the most celebrated masterpieces by the famous Impressionist Artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
The scene portrays a regular Sunday afternoon at the Moulin de la Galette, located in the district of Montmartre in Paris.
The painting represents the 19th-century working-class Parisians who would dress up and spend time dancing, drinking, and eating galettes into the night.
What catches the eyes of the viewer is the couple standing in the center of the painting.
Amidst all the dancing, this particular couple takes a moment to admire the painter and thus the viewer.
The woman was no other than Margot, Auguste Renoir’s lover, and with her was the Cuban painter Pedra Vidal of Solares.
This painting celebrates the triumphs of the youth. Every woman is radiantly beautiful, and every male looks spectacular.
The details are incredibly animated – the poses, the activities, and even the expressions.
Bal du Moulin de la Galette is regarded as one of the best paintings of Renoir, but he still does not consider it to be his best work.
This famous painting is at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.
42. The Swing
Known as the Happy Accidents of the Swing, is an 18th-century oil painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.
Considered a gem of the Rococo era, this masterpiece is one of the most-known works of this artist.
To an innocent eye, the painting is about a girl on a swing.
But the painter layered visuals with provocative symbolism, providing a new perspective on the decadent world.
While most artists were shielded from this commission, Fragonard happily took it.
This flirtatious and light-hearted painting gave rise to Fragonard’s prolific career, which was characterized by outstanding success in this genre of paintings.
The painting became controversial at the end of the 18th century, and Rococo soon fell. But The Swing remains one of the most popular pieces of art.
Of all the famous paintings, this is in the Wallace Collection, London, United Kingdom.
Sunflowers by Van Gogh is a series of still-life paintings that is closely connected to his beloved Paul Gauguin.
Van Gogh painted five large canvases of Sunflowers in a vase with three shades of yellow and nothing else.
Paul Gauguin came to live with Van Gogh and was impressed by the Sunflower painting, which he thought was ‘completely Vincent’.
He also painted Vincent at work on a canvas entitled The Painter of Sunflowers.
The suspected couple also exchanged sunflower paintings as a token of love.
Ever since the painting has become a famous symbol of Van Gogh’s love for Gauguin.
A love that drove him into madness.
The vibrant yellow oil paints in Van Gogh’s famous Sunflower were not available until the early 19th century. He was among the first artists to fully embrace them.
Today, the painting lies safe in the National Gallery, London.
44. Nude Descending a Staircase
The artwork by Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Sélavyis is a Modernist classic and has become a famous artwork of its time.
It was infamous for the depiction of a naked body in motion walking down a narrow stairway.
This quickly drew outrage from the public, especially for being unfamiliar with then-European art trends.
In fact, the painting became famous because of a scandal that helped Duchamp make space into the American spotlight.
Duchamp’s brother tried to censor the piece, which sparked a family rift during its exhibition in Salon d’Or.
Nude Descending a Staircase was a painting inspired by Timelapse photography.
This painting was known to steal the thunder of the works of Cèzanne and Gauguin, attracting 87,000 visitors.
This uproar thrilled Duchamp because it placed him in the American painting landscape.
Today, the painting is on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA.
45. Hope II
Hope II is a painting by Gustav Klimt depicting a female with a cranium sheltered into her dressing gown.
Her head is towards her round belly, just like a pregnant woman looking at her bloated stomach.
Underneath her are three females lowering their heads, too.
It appears like they foresaw the child’s fate and mourned with prayers.
In this painting, the woman’s gold-patterned robe – drawn flat has an extraordinary decorative beauty.
Klimt, however, called this work Vision due to the perfect balance of birth, death, and the sensuality of the living.
But why hope?
By featuring this expectant mother on the center stage, Klimt parades the splendor of hope about to emerge.
The woman seems to be caught between the commencement of life and the tragic, premature demise of the child.
But there is hope; there always shall be.
The painting has found a home in The Museum of Modern Art.
46. The Large Bathers
This is the largest, the last work from Cézanne’s lifelong exploration, and perhaps in its unfinished state, it is pure and serene.
The abstract women, present unclothed give the painting tension and density.
The atmosphere of this painting is strange and beautiful – the landscape is largely bluish, a soft haze in which sky, water, and vegetation merge and by which the masterfully drawn figures are delicately overcast.
Despite the unpolished state, ‘The Large Bathers’ remains a masterpiece of modern art.
The Large Bathers take their inspiration from the works of Titian and Peter Paul Rubens, but unlike them, it does not have any direct mythological references.
Of all the famous paintings, The Les Demoiselles D’Avigon of Picasso and other famous groups of nude women can be an evident inspiration for this famous painting.
The painting is open to view in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, United States.
Botticelli painted many facets of Venus.
One of those famous paintings, Primavera, is the largest panel painting in tempera paint by Botticelli of Venus.
It is described as “one of the most written about and most controversial paintings in the world.”
In fact, its meaning is still unclear, and never had an official title.
It was first called La Primavera by the art historian Giorgio Vasari, who saw it at Villa Castello.
Even the characters of the painting were only identified in the late 19th Century.
This exceptional piece of artwork is one of the most famous historical paintings in Western art.
While the history of the painting is unclear, the theme is based on a group of figures from mythology.
To the far left of the painting stands Mercury, dissipating the clouds of winter with his staff for spring to come.
It hangs at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
This list summarizes the most famous paintings of all time. Although we could not include all famous artwork, a few honorable mentions have been made in the list below.
These are some of the best paintings of all time that are not included in the list:
1. The Old Guitarist – Painting by Pablo Picasso
2. The Raft of the Medusa – Painting by Théodore Géricault
3. The Lady of Shalott – Painting by John William Waterhouse
4. Flaming June – Painting by Frederic Leighton
5. The Hay Wain – Painting by John Constable
6. The Ambassadors – Painting by Hans Holbein the Younger
7. Almond Blossoms – Painting by Vincent van Gogh
8. Dogs Playing Poker – painting by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge
And with this, I rest my case.
From The Author!
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Van Gogh’s famous paintings include The Starry Night, Starry Night Over the Rhône, Café Terrace at Night, Irises, and The Painter of Sunflowers.
Paintings worth can vary according to a custom painting artist. At PortraitFlip the starting price of a handmade painting is $89.
Some famous paintings in the louver museum are The Raft of the Medusa, The Mona Lisa, The Wedding at Cana, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Coronation of Napoleon, Liberty Leading the People, The Lacemaker, and The Turkish Bath.
A few of the famous paintings that are missing are Poppy Flowers by Vincent Van Gogh, Le The Concert by Johannes Vermeer, Pigeon aux Petits Pois by Pablo Picasso, and The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn.
Some of the famous paintings in the Vatican Museum are The Sistine Chapel, Stefaneschi Triptych Raphael Rooms, and The Entombment of Christ.