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Famous Paintings Of All Time

Famous Paintings Of All Time

Painting has been around for a very long time. Even with the introduction and advancements in photography, film, and digital technologies it has retained as a popular mode of expression. Over the years, millions of paintings have been created, however, there are some that have been labelled as "timeless classics", often coinciding with being created by some of the most famous artists of all time.

Of course, there are many famous paintings that stand out, and different ones for different reasons, which is why it can be difficult to rank the most famous paintings of all time. However, here at ArtStore Online, we've collated our list of what we believe are some of the most famous paintings out there. So, grab your paints and let's take a look at some of the most famous paintings! 

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Famous Painting #1: Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa, is an oil painting on a poplar wood panel by Leonardo da Vinci, and is perhaps the world's most renowned painting, which is why we’ve positioned it as our first on this list. It was created between 1503 and 1519, when Leonardo was in Florence, and it is now on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris - a destination of pilgrimage throughout the 21st century. The subject's enigmatic grin and her unproven origins have fueled debate about the work's meaning. The identity of the subject has long been a source of mystery and speculation. Scholars and historians have come up with various theories, including that she is Lisa del Giocondo (nee Gherardini), the wife of the Florentine merchant Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo—hence the alternative title to the work, La Gioconda

mona lisa

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Famous Painting #2: The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus is one of the most famous paintings in history. Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, or better known as, Sandro Botticelli, an Italian painter from the Florentine School, created it during his apprenticeship under Fra Filippo Lippi, the greatest Florentine painter of his day. It depicts the goddess Venus arriving at the shore after her birth, when she had emerged from the sea fully-grown. The goddess is posed upon a huge scallop shell, which is as pure and perfect as a pearl. A young lady emerges from the water, bearing a cloak strewn with flowers, which she offers to the goddess. The painting is currently held in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. 

birth of venus

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Famous Painting #3: Girl With A Pearl Earring

The Girl with the Pearl Earring is a Dutch painting on canvas by Johannes Vermeer, one of his most widely recognized works. It features a young woman in distinctive clothing and a spectacular pearl earring. The work has been lent to the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague where it resides permanently. It shows a European girl in an exotic gown, an oriental turban, and what seems to be a very huge pearl earring. The earring's material has also been a subject of debate. In 2014, Dutch astrophysicist Vincent Icke raised questions regarding the earring's material and stated that it appeared to be polished tin rather than pearl due to its specular reflection, pear shape, and large size.

girl with pearl earring

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Famous Painting #4: The Scream

The Scream is the name given to Edvard Munch's 1893 painting. The distressed face in the work has become one of the most famous paintings in history, representing human suffering. Munch's paintings, including The Scream, would later have a big influence on the Expressionist movement. A panic attack experienced by Munch in 1892 prompted this painting. He described how it occurred while walking along a path outside of Kristiania (now Oslo): "The sun was setting and the clouds turned crimson as blood. I felt as though I could hear a scream pass through nature. It seemed to me that I could hear the scream." It's possible that his proximity to a slaughterhouse and an insane asylum provided some inspiration for this painting.

the scream

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Famous Painting #5: Sunflowers

Vincent’s "Sunflowers" are among his most renowned paintings. He created them in Arles, France, in 1888 and 1889. Vincent made five large canvases depicting sunflowers in a vase, each with three distinct hues of yellow and no additional colours. The sunflower paintings had a special meaning for Van Gogh: they expressed his gratitude. He placed the first two in Paul Gauguin's room at the Yellow House, where he lived with him for a time. Gauguin was astonished by the works, who thought they were "entirely Vincent." Vincent van Gogh completed a new version of the painting during his friend's visit and Gauguin asked for it as a present, to which Vincent was hesitant to agree. He eventually produced two loose copies, one of which is now in the Van Gogh Museum.

sunflowers

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Famous Painting #6: The Persistence of Memory

One of Dalí's most renowned paintings is The Persistence of Memory, also known as Soft Watches or Melting Clocks. This painting features several of his favorite recurring motifs. It was painted on the seashore of Catalonia at Cape Creus, which was one of his favourite settings. Dalí's watches are reminiscent of creamy cheese, and in fact, according to his own account, they were inspired by hallucinations after eating camembert cheese. (He utilized a technique he dubbed the "paranoiac critical method,": where he deliberately provoked hallucinations as a means to get closer to his subconscious). 

the persistence of memory

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Famous Painting #7: Whistler's Mother

Whistler's Mother (or more formally known as Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1), is an oil painting on canvas by the American-born artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler that was completed in 1871. The subject of the artwork is Anna McNeill Whistler, Whistler's mother. The work is 56.81 by 63.94 inches (1,443 mm × 1,624 mm) and is displayed in a frame designed by Whistler himself. It is kept at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, having been purchased by the French government in 1891. It is one of the most renowned pieces of art by an American artist outside the United States and has even been called an American icon, similar to that of the Mona Lisa.

Whistler's Mother

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Famous Painting #8: American Gothic 

American Gothic is an oil painting by Grant Wood that currently resides at the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood was inspired to create the present-day American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, as well as "the kind of folks [he] preferred should dwell there". The painting is named after a family of farmers who appear in it and are often incorrectly thought to be the artist's wife. The house's architectural style, Carpenter Gothic, is referred to by the name of the painting. American Gothic was created in 1930 and is one of the most familiar images of the 20th-century. In 2016, the work traveled to Paris for its first showing outside the United States, and in 2017 it was exhibited in London at the Royal Academy of Arts. 

American Gothic

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Famous Painting #9: Cafe Terrace at Night 

The Cafe Terrace at Night is an 1888 oil painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. It was initially known as Coffeehouse, in the evening (Café, le soir), and subsequently became known as The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum. Van Gogh painted this creation mid-September 1888, and it is currently at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands. Café Terrace at Night was not signed by Van Gogh. Art historians are, nevertheless, certain that he created it based on three separate pieces of correspondence in which he mentioned the work.

Cafe Terrace at Night

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Famous Painting #10: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

In his most famous and biggest work, Georges Seurat depicted a group of people relaxing in a park on an island by the Seine River called La Grande Jatte. The painting was developed over many years, beginning in 1884 with a layer of tiny horizontal brushstrokes of complementary hues. Seurat then broadened the palette, by adding tiny dots of different sizes in identical hues that appear to be opaque and brilliant when viewed from afar. Pointillism is a highly systematic and "scientific" method for painting that was developed by Seurat.

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

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And that concludes our list. If this famous paintings list has inspired you, check out our range of painting supplies including acrylic paints, watercolour painting, oil painting, gouache painting and brushes.  Of course, we haven’t left the drawers out! Find our drawings range here or check out our pencils, markers, pastels, charcoal and more! 

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