7 Famous Gothic Paintings: Artworks That Sparks Mystery

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Gothic paintings sound familiar?

Or, let me break it down for you!

Mediaeval art? Does that strike a hint?

Well, Gothic art is a style that falls under the Medieval art movement.

Some of the paintings you look at have a completely different aura! The same goes with the concept of gothic painting and artwork.

Or, as the famous gothic painter Giotto says, “Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbor.”

Artists in gothic art express a certain emotion and try to convey a message that not everyone can totally understand.

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Given the fact that every gothic painting has its own story to tell and its own tragedy to recite, the artists still find a way to disguise pain and pleasure in color.

I remember while I was researching this topic, I came across the fact that gothic art was labeled as monstrous and barbaric!

Is it true? Or is it not?

For that, I have compiled a blog for you that includes some of the most famous gothic paintings and a brief history of the gothic art movement as well.

So, without further ado, let us start learning and try to understand the concept of gothic paintings and art with some of the paintings by famous gothic artists. 

What is Gothic art?

A compilation of the representation of gothic art.
Image source: Compiled by PortraitFlip and the images are from sources: Britanica, Wikipedia, OpenArt

What does the term Gothic mean in a literal sense?

According to the definition, the term refers to a genre of fiction that frequently features spooky or isolated locations along with macabre, enigmatic, or violent events.

Gothic art is defined as a style of painting, architecture and sculpture.

It commenced in the 12th century and went its way till the 15th century. 

It covered the regions of Western Europe and much of Northern, Southern and Central Europe.

For the first instance, it can get a bit hard for us to understand how exactly gothic art is different from medieval art, but on closer observation, it gets easier.

While naturalism is the defining characteristic of Gothic painting and sculpture, pointed arches define the architectural style.

Gothic art is a result of the dark ages, and some of the notable artists made it really worth the mystery. 

Suggested Read: Famous Scary Paintings

Brief History of the Gothic Art Movement

Depiction of a skull with candle and roses, represents memento mori
Image Source: Freepik

The Gothic art movement began in the Abbey Church of St. Denis, which Abbot Suger had constructed in the early 12th century in Île-de-France, France.

The Gothic architectural style first emerged in northern France in the early 12th century.

Soon after the development of the art style, it quickly extended to sculpture, textiles, and painting, including stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, and frescoes.

This movement started getting attention from artists all over the European region, and after a point, Gothic art was all around the globe. 

Artists like Jan van Eyck, Duccio, Giotto, etc. played an influential role in supporting this movement and also created some of the most famous gothic paintings.

Suggested Read: Paintings of Romanticism

Famous Gothic Paintings

Now that we have learned about the period in which the movement came into existence, it is now time to learn more about gothic art through some of the famous gothic paintings.

1. Madonna and Child by Carlo Crivelli

Madonna and Child by Carlo Crivelli
Image Source: metmuseum

Madonna and Child is a mesmerizing gothic painting that was made in the year 1480 in the Church of San Francesco ad Alto in Italy.

This is a tempera and gold gothic painting that is very well preserved, and it also denotes the subjects with perfection.

This gothic painting not only represents the subjects in a much more realistic way but also showcases the subjects in a three-dimensional aspect.

On closer observation, we can see that the look on Madonna’s face is a bit skeptical; it is either representing grief or the comfort of holding the infant Jesus.

The infant is sitting on a cushion and is holding a goldfinch close to his chest. 

Although the emotions displayed in art are far more upbeat than those of other gothic paintings that portray Christ’s life, Crivelli nevertheless succeeds in adding a thin layer of melancholy to his work.  

This famous gothic painting by Carlo Crivelli is now safely housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York.

2. The Rucellai Madonna by Duccio

Rucellai Madonna is a painting by Duccio
Image Source: Wikipedia

This 13th-century famous gothic painting is one of the largest panel paintings of the world.

This famous tempera on gold and panel gothic painting was made by Duccio in the year 1285. 

The Rucellai Madonna was commissioned to be displayed in the Santa Maria Novella Church. 

A group of ardent followers who frequently came to the church to worship the Madonna commissioned the painting.

This painting is not just a famous gothic painting; it was also one of the most famous religious paintings of the era.

A mother Virgin and her child are shown sitting on a golden throne in The Rucellia Maddona, one of the greatest gothic paintings.

Angels are arranged symmetrically on either side, encircling the Virgin and Child, just like the Maestà di Santa Trinita. 

We can make out an intricate banner and a stunning golden halo behind Madonna, which symbolize her significance and deity. 

This famous panel gothic painting is now housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.  

3. Coronation of the Virgin by Fra Angelico

Coronation of the Virgin is a painting by  Fra Angelico
Image Source: Headout

One of the most famous Italian Renaissance painters, Fra Angelico, has painted this beautiful gothic artwork titled Coronation of the Virgin.

It was painted by him in 1432-1434.

It is a tempera on panel painting and has its own mystical touch to it.

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During the Renaissance period, the subjects of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the concept of birth and death were widely discussed in art as well. 

In this painting, you can see that Jesus and the Virgin Mary are both surrounded by priests and rays of sunlight.

Jesus can be seen blessing Mary, and the crowd is the witness in faith. 

This gothic painting is one of the most beautiful paintings that can be viewed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. 

4. Maestà di Santa Trinita by Cimabue

Santa Trinita Maestà is a Painting by Cimabue
Image Source: Wikipedia

Maestà di Santa Trinita is a creation by Cimabue, one of the famous painters and designers of mosaics from Florence.

This gothic painting two-dimensionally represents the subjects and matter.

We can see that this gothic painting has been covered in gold, and Madonna can be seen seated on a golden throne with baby Jesus in her arms.

On closer observation, you can see that baby Jesus is surrounded by eight angels.hen you look down a bit, behind three arches, you can spot four prophets.

The angels can be seen with their heads tilted and their wings spread in such a way that it intrigues the viewers to focus more on the subject.

This famous gothic painting was originally painted for Santa Trinita Church in Florence.

Over time and with the development of gothic art, this painting was moved and is now housed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

5. American Gothic by Grant Wood

American Gothic painting by Grant wood
Image Source: Wikipedia

One of the most recent and in trend gothic paintings that belongs to the 20th century, American Gothic, is a painting by famous American artist Grant Wood.

This gothic painting can look like a general painting, but it has a deep meaning attached to it.

American Gothic represents the rural life of America.

It features an old man wearing a black coat on his overalls with a pitchfork in his hand and a stressed expression on his face.

On his side stands his daughter in distress, staring in the distance.

This gothic painting is an oil painting that has been realistically presented by Grant Wood, and it was praised for its representation of American society.

American Gothic was created in 1930 and is now housed in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Ognissanti Madonna by Giotto di Bondone

Ognissanti Madonna is a painting by Giotto
Image Source: Wikipedia

One of the most famous gothic paintings by Giotto di Bondone is Ognissanti Madonna.

It was created by him in 1306 and was one of the most commendable artworks of the 14th century.

Giotto was successful in portraying the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus on her lap in a very natural and real way.

It is quite clear that during the era when religious paintings were very famous at that time, the subjects of the Virgin Mary and Jesus were highly used in art. 

This gothic painting is a tempera and gold foil painting in which you can see that the Virgin Mary is sitting with baby Jesus on her lap.

They are surrounded by angels and saints with wings and haloes over their heads.

This painting was originally commissioned for the Church of Ognissanti and is still located in Florence.

This famous gothic painting is not only a two-dimensional painting, but Giotto has elegantly added depth to the clothes and also placed the subjects in the painting in a more spacious way.

Also Read: Schizophrenia Art

The Flight into Egypt  by Giotto

The Flight into Egypt is a painting by Giotto
Image Source: Artyfactory

One of the gothic paintings from the series Adoration by Magi is again a mesmerizing creation by Giotto.

The scene depicts the events leading up to Christ’s life in Matthew 2:13–2:23.

When you look at the painting, you can see that it represents a phase during the time when Christ, Joseph and the Virgin Mary were leaving for Egypt.

A pivotal moment in Jesus’ life is depicted in The Flight of Egypt as a modest search for safety.

The most intriguing part of this painting is the reason behind the family of Christ leaving their hometown!

It is because in Bethlehem, an angel revealed to Joseph that King Herod intended to kill their child. 

One of the most fascinating gothic paintings is The Flight into Egypt, a Giotto fresco from the 14th century that can be found in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy.

Wrapping It Up

You must’ve seen a lot of paintings in your lifetime, given the fact that some of them were serene, some of them were radiant, and some of them were just a mystery.

Gothic art is about that; gothic paintings and artworks are all about mystery and a gloomy aura, which triggers a deep sense of understanding in the viewer’s mind.

There are many gothic paintings that remain underrated to this day, and some of them are highly praised by viewers from all over the world.

Some of the famous gothic paintings have been housed in some of the most prestigious museums and galleries.

Well, you can also get your hands on replicas of some of the most famous gothic paintings, and you can especially get them hand-painted for yourself.

Wanna know more about how you can get that? Then,

Author’s Epilogue

If you are still here, then thank you so much for staying till the end!

This was all about famous Gothic paintings.

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Bye bye!


What character defines a famous gothic painting?

The characteristic of naturalism is what defines some of the famous gothic paintings. Also, the innovation in human representation and giving the perspective of a human to the painting is what makes gothic art unique.

What country made Gothic art famous, and which regions were covered under Gothic art?

France, being the land of art, pushed the concept of gothic art during the Romanesque period. Also, the fact that European cities and regions were highly influenced by gothic art

Name some of the artists who highly influenced the era of Gothic art and created some of the famous Gothic paintings.

Some of the famous artists that influenced the era of gothic art are Giotto, Cimabue, Duccio, Grant wood, etc.

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