Best Paintings Of All Time

Arrangement In Gray And Black No 1 By James Mcneill Whistler

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144.3 cm x 162.4 cm
Where It Is Currently Housed Musée dOrsay, Paris

American artist James McNeill Whistler also produced one of the most famous portraits in history with his creation of Arrangement in Gra18y and Black No. 1. More commonly known as Whistlers Mother, Whistler created this well-known portrait of his mother, Anna McNeill Whistler, after his model could not make the appointment and he asked his mother to stand in for his subject. Originally picturing his model standing up for this portrait, Whistlers mother was too uncomfortable to stand for long periods of time, so he changed his initial idea.

While this portrait exists as a famous American artwork, Whistler did not intend to create a portrait.

Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1 or Whistlers Mother by James McNeill Whistler James McNeill Whistler, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

At the time, he found many similarities between music and painting, which led to him calling many of his artworks by the name of harmony and other musical words. As he titled this work Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1, Whistlers whole aim was to prioritize the tonal value in his work above all other interpretations.

However, his mother quickly became the focal point of the work, which led to the painting being seen as a portrait.

Poppies In A Field Claude Monet

Claude Monet is one of the great impressionist painters. This beautiful pastoral scene encapsulates the essence of how the impressionists captured the beauty and simplicity of nature. It also captures that pre-industrialist age, which was fast disappearing during Monets life. It is an evocation of a bye-gone era. It is hard not to feel nostalgic about this scene. Notice also how the humans are but a sideshow to the overall picture.

These Impressive And Generally Iconic Paintings By Renowned Artists Changed The Art World Forever

Modern art began in the middle 1800s, when the advent of photography seemed to make painting obsolete. If you could simply photograph something, why draw or paint it? So, artists had to reinvent art, making it more personal, impressionistic, expressionistic, abstract, deconstructed or minimalistic. In fact, art became whatever the artist said it was. Or, put another way, the artwork was merely a reflection of the artist himself or herself.

Now lets begin the countdown for the 90 Greatest Paintings of Modern Art!

Soirée à l’Atelier by Lucien Simon

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The City Rises Umberto Boccioni

An Italian painter and sculptor, Umberto Boccioni was a seminal figure in the Futurism movement of the early twentieth century in Europe. Futurism, which depicts optimism for modernity, was a forerunner of many other artistic groups: Art Deco, Constructivism, Surrealism and Dada. Killed at 33 during WWI, Boccioni nevertheless produced over 100 pieces of art, one of which was The City Rises, a work generally embraced by the public and quickly sold for 4,000 lire. This large painting is considered Boccionis first work of Futurism and can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

In-Appropriate #1 by Frank Buffalo Hyde

Henri Matisse Flowers 1907

50 Most Famous Paintings of All Time in the Art History (Ranked)

Henri Matisses career spanned more than 50 years, and throughout that period, he repeatedly returned to the subject of flowers, either as still-lifes or as elements in larger compositions depicting interior scenes or landscapes. This particular painting was completed early in his career when he was associated with Fauvism, a style that emphasized brushwork and bold use of color over naturalism. This small oil on cardboard ticks off all the boxes.

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Leonardo Da Vinci Mona Lisa 150319

Painted between 1503 and 1517, Da Vincis alluring portrait has been dogged by two questions since the day it was made: Whos the subject and why is she smiling? A number of theories for the former have been proffered over the years: That shes the wife of the Florentine merchant Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo that she’s Leonardos mother, Caterina, conjured from Leonardo’s boyhood memories of her and finally, that it’s a self-portrait in drag. As for that famous smile, its enigmatic quality has driven people crazy for centuries. Whatever the reason, Mona Lisas look of preternatural calm comports with the idealized landscape behind her, which dissolves into the distance through Leonardos use of atmospheric perspective.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Dystopos

Johannes Vermeer Girl With A Pearl Earring 1665

Johannes Vermeers 1665 study of a young woman is startlingly real and startlingly modern, almost as if it were a photograph. This gets into the debate over whether or not Vermeer employed a pre-photographic device called a camera obscura to create the image. Leaving that aside, the sitter is unknown, though its been speculated that she might have been Vermeer’s maid. He portrays her looking over her shoulder, locking her eyes with the viewer as if attempting to establish an intimate connection across the centuries. Technically speaking, Girl isnt a portrait, but rather an example of the Dutch genre called a troniea headshot meant more as still life of facial features than as an attempt to capture a likeness.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Nat507

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Lady Godiva By John Maler Collier

Lady Godiva is an 1897 painting by John Collier, an English artist who painted in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood style. Lady Godiva and her well-known but mythical ride through Coventry, England, are depicted in the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry. Thomas Hancock Nunn, a social reformer, bequeathed Lady Godiva. The work was offered to the Corporation of Hampstead after he died in 1937. In his will, he said that if Hampstead declined his bequest, the work would be presented to Coventry. Mab Paul, an artist model and West End stage actress who was also painted as herself by John Collier, is the model in the painting.

Water Lillies And The Japanese Bridge Claude Monet

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One of the founders of French Impressionism, Claude Monet was also one of the first painters to produce plein air landscapes. This type of painting takes place outdoors so the artist can utilize sunlight and atmospheric effects in order to depict objects as they actually appear in nature at different times of the dayor different times of the year or in varying weather conditionsrather than how they may be idealized or preconceived in the studio. Using the garden and pond flora at his residence in Giverny, France, Water Lillies and the Japanese Bridge exemplifies some of Monets best Impressionist painting from the 1880s until his passing in 1926. Also, in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Monet traveled to the Mediterranean where he painted numerous famous buildings, landmarks and seascapes.

Resurgence of the People by Kent Monkman

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Untitled By Shonto Begay

A member of the Diné tribe, Shonto Begay grew up with 15 siblings living in three hogansnone of which having utilitiesnear Shonto, Arizona. While attending the white mans boarding school, Begay began to paint, though he had to do so in secret or the reservation authorities would make him stop. Begay said the act of painting helped remove him from harsh reality, so he could create with his hands a land of great beauty. The above Southwestern masterpiece depicts a magical landscape of sand, cacti, sagebrush, buttes, mesas and petroglyphs.

Kangaroo Paddock by Peter Benjamin Graham

Creation Of Adam Sistine Chapel By Michelangelo

Michelangelo took four years to paint the Sistine Chapel. He chose scenes from the Old Testament. This is the moment of God creating Adam. This particular panel is just a fraction of the Sistine Chapel. To fully appreciate the scale, splendour and beauty of Michelangelos creation, you have to visit the Vatican.

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Leonardo Da Vinci The Foetus In The Womb

Leonardo expresses the human condition in a nutshell indeed, his rendition of the womb resembles an opened horsechestnut casing. Inside is the beginning of us all laid bare. Five hundred years ago, this artist and scientist could portray the human mystery with a wonder that is not religious but biological he holds up humanity as a fact of nature. It is for me the most beautiful work of art in the world.

A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte

5 Greatest Paintings of All Time

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

  • When: 18841886
  • Periods: Pointillism, Neo-impressionism
  • Current Status: At The Art Institute of Chicago

The A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is one of the most famous paintings of George Seurat made in 1884. This painting depicts a lot of Parisians chilling on a Sunday afternoon on the banks of the River Seine. This painting was also made on a large canvas using the pointillist technique.

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The New Democracy David Alfaro Siqueiros

One of the greatest Mexican Muralists, as well as a famous artist of social realism, Siqueiros was a member of the Mexican Communist Party and a supporter of the Soviet Union and, along with Diego Rivera, he studied the work of fresco painters of the Renaissance. Often considered an artist and revolutionary, Siqueiros painted The New Democracy using modern painting techniques and toolselectric projectors, photography, spray guns and new paintsso he could cover large sections of buildings in outdoor conditions. Siqueiros wanted his paintings to be easily seen by the masses as they strolled by. Interestingly, in the 1940s, Siqueiros taught Jackson Pollock a drip-and-pour technique that led to Pollocks drip paintings.

Ciphers and Constellations, in Love with a Woman by Joan Miró

Edvard Munch’s The Scream Is Probably The Most Haunting Painting Ever Produced

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Edvard Munch was born in a small Norwegian village in 1863. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was five, as did his favourite sister when he was 13. Munchs father was nervous and highly religious, with Munch later commenting that the angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born. Munch was determined to become an artist from his teenage years, despite his fathers view that it was an unholy trade. And, given his upbringing, it is easy to see how Munch was drawn to introspective, expressive, and even perturbing subjects. Aside from The Scream, Munchs other key works are Madonna and The Sick Child. Munch died in Oslo in January 1944, aged 80.

Munch painted The Scream in 1893. The central figure it is unclear whether it is a man or a woman is open-mouthed and covering his/her ears. It is also unclear whether the figure is screaming or trying to block out the scream of another . Two figures are seen in the background on a wooden walkway, with the blood-red sky being the compositions other striking feature. Overall, the work symbolises the anxieties, uncertainties and paradoxes of human existence. It is often described as disturbing and haunting.

“It does them good to fend for themselves.”

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Sublime Landscape Painting Through History

Although the term sublime could describe various subjects, sublime landscape paintings have been some of the most enduring and captivating of them all. Even before Burkes famous text, painters since medieval times have ramped up swirling storm clouds, sharp cliff faces and jagged, snow-peaked mountains to convey an overwhelming wonder and terror to captivated audiences. Lets get lost in some of the most awe-inspiring, sublime landscape paintings of all time, from the Renaissance era to modern and contemporary times.

Ren Magritte The Treachery Of Images 1929

12 Most Famous Paintings of all Time

René Magrittes Surrealist paintings are known for their unique sense of irony and wit. One of his most famous pieces, The Treachery of Images, insists that the pipe depicted is not a pipe because it is simply a representation of one.

Fun fact: The painting received some bad reviews from critics who thought it suggested the idea of nihilism. In an interview, Magritte defended himself by stating, The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, its just a representation, is it not? So if I had my picture This is a pipe,’ Id have been lying!

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Gustav Klimt The Kiss 19071908

Opulently gilded and extravagantly patterned, The Kiss, Gustav Klimts fin-de-siècle portrayal of intimacy, is a mix of Symbolism and Vienna Jugendstil, the Austrian variant of Art Nouveau. Klimt depicts his subjects as mythical figures made modern by luxuriant surfaces of up-to-the moment graphic motifs. The work is a highpoint of the artists Golden Phase between 1899 and 1910 when he often used gold leafa technique inspired by a 1903 trip to the Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, where he saw the churchs famed Byzantine mosaics.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jessica Epstein

Portrait Of Dora Maar

Portrait of Dora Maar

  • Current Status: In Private collection

Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest artists of all time also prepared this alluring famous painting of woman in his life named Dora Markovic in 1937. This picture depicts the lady from different angles and no proper visible features. The play of colors and distortions of her face is the beauty of this lady and the hallmark of Picassos art which is a delight for all the Picasso fans.

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Leonardo Da Vinci The Last Supper C 14951498

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 14958

Since its completion at the end of the 15th century, The Last Supper has captivated audiences with its impressively large scale, unique composition, and mysterious subject matter. Leonardo da Vinci’s patron, Ludovico Sforza, asked him to paint Jesus’ final meal as described in the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Bible.

Fun fact: Interestingly, Leonardo opted to illustrate the moment Jesus tells his followers that one of them will betray him, placing much of the painting’s focus on the figures’ individual expressive reactions.

Must A Portrait Only Include One Person

Top 10 Famous Paintings of All Time

Several famous portrait artists have created iconic portraits that were made up of more than one person. These are generally called group portraits, where each individual strikes a pose and gives their best expression. Group portraits were, and still are, incredibly popular for family portraits, with the most well-known examples being commissioned for royal families. Today, family portraits can still be captured through painting, but the modern invention of photography has allowed individuals to create their own portraits without needing an artist.

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Diego Rodrguez De Silva Y Velzquez Las Meninas Or The Family Of King Philip Iv

A painting of a painting within a painting, Velázquez masterpiece consists of different themes rolled into one: A portrait of Spains royal family and retinue in Velázquezs studio a self-portrait an almost art-for-arts-sake display of bravura brush work and an interior scene, offering glimpses into Velázquezs working life. Las Meninas is also a treatise on the nature of seeing, as well as a riddle confounding viewers about what exactly theyre looking at. Its the visual art equivalent of breaking the fourth wallor in this case, the studios far wall on which there hangs a mirror reflecting the faces of the Spanish King and Queen. Immediately this suggests that the royal couple is on our side of the picture plane, raising the question of where we are in relationship to them. Meanwhile, Velázquezs full length rendering of himself at his easel begs the question of whether hes looking in a mirror to paint the picture. In other words, are the subjects of Las Meninas , looking at us, or looking at themselves?

Famous Paintings From Western Art History Any Art Lover Should Know

Since the emergence of the Italian Renaissance, the history of Western art began a fascinating course through different stylistic genres. While 15th-century painting focused on portraying the ideal, the subsequent movements explored many other aesthetics and ideas, often in reaction to their historical predecessor. And although there are many remarkable paintings to study from these different art movements, we’ve narrowed down the expansive list to 20 iconic works that span from the end of the 15th century all the way to the first half of the 1900s.

Among this list of masterpieces are some that are so well known they’ve become a part of popular culture, as well as others that, while famous in art circles, may not be as familiar. For instance, René Magritte’s Surrealist painting Treachery of Images, which features a rendering of a brown pipe accompanied by the recognizable phrase This is not a pipe, has been referenced in film as well as video games. Similarly, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa continues to inspire authors and filmmakers from around the world. On the other hand, some paintings that have eluded the same attention include Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Impressionist gem, Bal du Moulin de la Galette, and Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase.

Want to brush up on your art history knowledge? Scroll down to take a short-listed tour of 30 of Western art history’s most famous paintings.

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Dante And Virgil In Hell By William

Dante and Virgil is an 1850 oil on canvas work by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a French academic painter. The Musée d’Orsay in Paris has it on exhibit. The work represents a scene from Dante’s Divine Comedy, which depicts Dante and his companion Virgil on a voyage through Hell. The author and his guide are watching as two tormented souls are entwined in unending conflict in the scene. Capocchio, an alchemist and heretic, is one of the souls. Gianni Schicchi, the trickster who had used trickery to steal another man’s inheritance, bites him on the neck.


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