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Top 15 Most Famous Paintings of All Time - FAD Magazine

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FAD Magazine covers contemporary art – News, Exhibitions and Interviews reported on from London

Top 15 Most Famous Paintings of All Time

Despite the introduction of film, photography, and digital media, painting remained as one of the most sophisticated methods of expression. We had the luck to be alive to witness some of the legendary paintings crafted by iconic artists throughout history. 

It is very difficult to rank all these magnificent pieces in a plethora of options. Some people will favor one artist over another. Diversity in opinions is what makes art so special after all. While you may disagree with some of the titles in the following list (which is completely fine), the list was the result of a survey run by football betting tips site bettingtips4you.com as part of a study on the relationship between football fans and art. 

15 – The Garden of Earthly Delights  

Hieronymus Bosch is a late medieval artist who perceived Heaven and Hell as real and found a way to translate his beliefs into his most popular piece, called “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. The painting shows three scenes. On the left, you can see Chris showing Eve to Adam, while Hell is shown on the right. The center symbolizes the Heaven. 

14 – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon  

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon represents the Western painting tradition via the 20th century ur-canvas art. Pablo Picasso took inspiration from the ethnographic museum Palais du Trocardo in Paris as well as from “The Vision of Saint John” by El Greco. The painting shows the prostitutes from Barcelona’s brothel. 

13 – The Naked Maja  

Francisco de Goya painted a very controversial piece that provoked a serious stir back in the late 18th century in Spain. It showed a nude female who was comfortable in her skin, posing to the painter with confidence. Although the woman’s identity is still a mystery, many fans believe it was the young mistress of Spain’s Prime Minister at the time, Manuel de Godoy. 

12 – Water Lilies  

“Water Lilies” represents a series of 250 oil paintings crafted by one of the most famous artists of all time, Claude Monet. The main source of his creativity was the famous flower garden in his Giverny home. The paintings are now exposed in bountiful museums all over the planet, including Paris’ d’Orsay and New York’s Museum of Contemporary Arts. 

11 – Sunrise  

We will stay with Claude Monet and the work that served as the definition of Impressionism. Claude lived in Le Havre and he took advantage of a beautiful sunrise over the city’s port to paint one of his most popular works. Monet beautifully showed the blend between water and sky, reflecting the sun through marvelous brush strokes. 

10 – Guernica  

Inspired by the Nazi’s heavy bombardment of the town or Guernica during the Spanish civil war, Pablo Picasso created one of his most famous works named after the mentioned town. Pablo completed the painting in June 1937 and it has travelled all over the world since then. It was borrowed from the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1958, 23 years before arriving in Madrid where it is currently exposed. 

9 – Composition with Red Blue and Yellow  

Piet Mondrian celebrated minimalism in his small painting which caused a lot of attention among the admirers of art. Pier limited his palette of colors to red, blue, and yellow as the three base colors, adding black and white to the mix in an intriguing blend of rectangles and squares. 

8 – The Kiss  

Gustav Klimt portrayed intimacy in a very interesting pattern, blending Vienna Jugendstil and Symbolism in the process. The luxurious surfaces introduced the segment of modern days to mythical figures. This work represented the highest point of Klimt’s popular Golden Phase, the one marked by the special technique of using gold leaves. 

7 – The Harvesters   

Pieter Bruegel perfectly depicted a common man’s life in his era via one of his defining works, “The Harvesters”. He shows a typical day of a working man in the early autumn days. On the left side of the painting, you’ll see a group of peasants collecting wheat while the others enjoy their meal during the break on the right side. What’s especially fascinating about this work is the artist’s attention to detail. 

6 – The Arnolfini Portrait   

“The Arnolfini Portrait” was one of the inaugural pieces crafted in oils. This important work that was executed in the Northern Renaissance period showcases a merchant and his bride. The painting itself provoked numerous opposing opinions as people interpreted its meaning in so many ways. One of the most popular ones was certainly Erwin Panofsky’s theory from the 20th century that the painting represented a wedding contract. 

5 – Girl with a Pearl Earring   

Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” represents the Dutch “Mona Lisa”. The date of the painting’s creation is still unknown but Tracy Chevalier shared her thoughts on the origin of the painting in a novel. Popular actress Scarlett Johansson starred in a 2003 film in the role of the girl from this painting, while British actor Colin Firth got the role of Vermeer himself. 

4 – The Birth of Venus   

“The Birth of Venus” represented the maiden non-religious nude painting since antiquity. It shows the Roman Goddess Venus (Aphrodite in Greek mythology) walking out of the sea foam. According to mythology, this act represents her birth, hence the title. This is certainly the most remarkable work by Sandro Botticelli and it is currently located in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. 

3 – The Last Supper  

“The Last Supper” is considered to be one of the greatest works in the history of art. It was crafted by the great Leonardo Da Vinci in the late 15th century and is currently located in Santa Maria della Grazie church in Milano. It depicts the moment when Christ revealed that one of his disciples would betray him. 

2 – The Starry Night

Although he managed to sell only one painting during his lifetime and although he died in poverty, Vincent van Gogh is considered one of the biggest painting geniuses out there in present days. “The Starry Night” is his most famous piece, depicting a Saint-Remy village under the sky in the late evening hours. The painting was made just 13 months before van Gogh’s early death. 

1 – Mona Lisa  

The Mona Lisa is the most famous and most visited piece of art on the planet. Even 500 years after the creation of the painting, Lisa del Giocondo’s mysterious smile keeps drawing attention from historians and art admirers all over the globe. Leonardo da Vinci started working on the painting in 1503 and finished it only in 1519, several months before his death. The painting is currently located in Paris’ Louvre where approximately six million people see it every year.

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