Famous Paintings – Taking a Look at the World’s Most Popular Paintings

Art is constantly around us, yet not all of them become famous artworks. But what sets famous art paintings apart from the rest? The most famous paintings in the world are all recognized for some special quality that words cannot fully express – these old famous paintings have to be seen to be appreciated. Today we will discover the most popular paintings in the history of art.

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The Most Famous Paintings in the World

Which are your favorite famous art paintings? Are they on our list of the world’s most famous paintings? Perhaps you will discover a few famous artworks you have not heard of before. Let’s dive into our list of the world’s most popular paintings.


Primavera (1482) by Sandro Botticelli

ArtistSandro Botticelli
Date Created 1482
MediumTempera on Panel
Current LocationUffizi Gallery

The image displays a crowd gathered in an orange grove. One of the first things to note is how little viewpoint is being used; whereas the bushes to the left and right provide some environmental perspective, we really do not see the one-point linear point of view that certain early Renaissance artists used so successfully in the 15th century.

Also, notice how the extremities of the majority of the figures are long and thin, giving them an exquisite appearance.

Mythological Famous Artwork La Primavera (Spring) (c. 1480) by Sandro Botticelli; Sandro Botticelli, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Botticelli produced works during a time when there was a demand for them at Florence’s court. While the painting’s true importance is unclear, we do know the identities of many of the people shown in it. The Roman goddess, Venus, is depicted in the foreground. Her appearance reflects the popular humanist fascination in the classical world in Florence at the time. She is depicted as an idyllic beauty, significantly off-center, with her head cocked and gesturing to the right. Above her is a blindfolded cupid (her son), and behind him, tree branches create an arch that surrounds Venus and gives her a prominent place in the image.


Mona Lisa (c. 1503) by Leonardo da Vinci

ArtistLeonardo da Vinci
Date Created 1503
MediumOil on Panel
Current LocationLouvre, Paris

This portrait of a female, clothed in the Florentine manner and seated in a dreamlike, mountainous scene, is an outstanding example of Leonardo’s sfumato style of soft, highly shaded modeling. The Mona Lisa’s enigmatic look, which appears both enticing and distant, has earned the image worldwide acclaim.

The portrait was among the first to depict the sitter in front of a fictitious landscape, and Leonardo da Vinci was among the first artists to use aerial perspective.

Famous Paintings by Da Vinci Portrait of Mona Lisa del Giocondo (c. 1503) by Leonardo da Vinci; Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The mysterious woman is seated in what looks to be an uncovered loggia with black pillar bases on each side. A huge landscape recedes behind her to reveal snowy mountains. Winding roads and a faraway bridge are the sole signs of human existence. Da Vinci’s style is distinguished by hazy edges, flowing figures, striking contrasts of darkness and light, and an overall sense of tranquility. It is debatable if Mona Lisa should be called a conventional portrait because of the emotive harmony that da Vinci produced between figure and environment since it portrays an aspiration rather than a real woman. 

The artwork’s overall harmony, particularly the sitter’s small grin, conveys the concept of a connection linking people and nature.


The Ambassadors (1533) by Hans Holbein the Younger

ArtistHans Holbein the Younger
Date Created 1533
MediumOil Paint
Current LocationThe National Gallery

Hans Holbein, the greatest portrait artist of his day, spent a significant quantity of time in Henry VIII’s courts. The Ambassadors depicts the French ambassador to England, Jean de Dinteville, and his colleague, George de Selve, who were both in their late 20s.

The artwork is strewn with allegorical elements, such as a lute with broken strings, which might represent Henry VIII’s split with Rome in order to divorce Catherine of Aragon and pursue his lover, Anne Boleyn.

famous old paintings The Ambassadors (1533) by Hans Holbein the Younger; Hans Holbein the Younger, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The hazy, black-and-white item that cuts through the base of the painting is, in reality, a human skull, symbolizing mortality. It makes excellent use of anamorphosis, as it can only be observed from an acute angle, compelling viewers to examine the picture from a variety of viewpoints.


Judith Slaying Holofernes (1610) by Artemisia Gentileschi

ArtistArtemisia Gentileschi
Date Created 1610
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

As Judith, a devout young woman from the Israelite city of Bethulia, decapitates Holofernes, the leader of the Assyrian force that had surrounded her city, rivulets of blood trickle down the white sheets. Judith, moved by her people’s predicament and filled with faith in God, took things into her own hands.

Famous Paintings by Women Judith Slaying Holofernes (1610) by Artemisia Gentileschi; Artemisia Gentileschi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

She styled her hair, dressed elegantly, and approached the opposing camp, claiming to be carrying intelligence that would assure Holofernes’ triumph. He asked her to dinner after being struck by her attractiveness and intending to seduce her afterward.

Judith recognized a chance and seized it, saving her people from annihilation with a vow on her tongue and a blade in her hand.


Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) by Rembrandt van Rijn

Date Created 1633
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationStolen

Rembrandt’s most spectacular narrative artwork in America is also his only seascape. It was created in 1633, shortly after Rembrandt arrived in Amsterdam from his home Leiden, and at a time when he was proving himself as the city’s preeminent portrait and historical subject painter.

The comprehensive representation of the scene, the different attitudes of the characters, the reasonably refined brushwork, and the vivid colors are all hallmarks of Rembrandt’s early style.

Old Famous Paintings Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) by Rembrandt van Rijn; Rembrandt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

18th-century critics such as Arnold Houbraken frequently favored Rembrandt’s early style to his later, wider, and less descriptive style. Nature is pitted against human weakness in the biblical scenario, both physically and spiritually. The terrified disciples battle to recover control of their fishing boat as a massive wave crashes over its bow, shredding the sail and pushing the ship perilously near to the cliffs in the left foreground.


The Night Watch (1642) by Rembrandt van Rijn

Date Created 1642
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationRijksmuseum

Rembrandt’s The Night Watch is an example of a particularly distinct form of artwork that was unique to the Northern Netherlands, with the bulk of commissions coming from Amsterdam. It depicts a battalion of civic guardsmen in a group photograph. The primary function of these guardsmen was to protect their city.

As such, they were entrusted with protecting gates, patrolling streets, fighting fires, and generally keeping the city in order.

Old Famous Paintings by Rembrandt The Night Watch (1642) by Rembrandt van Rijn; Rembrandt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

They were also a prominent feature at ceremonies for arriving royalty and other festive events. In terms of uniqueness, Rembrandt’s masterpiece stands out greatly when compared to previous municipal guard pictures.

Rembrandt animates his picture rather than reproducing the traditional arrangement of dull rows of individuals. Sitters carry out certain tasks that identify their position as militiamen.


Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) by Johannes Vermeer

ArtistJohannes Vermeer
Date Created 1665
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMauritshuis, The Hague

The artwork has attracted so many individuals throughout history, attracting record numbers to the art museum in The Hague, where it is presently kept. It became legendary because of the girl’s peculiar pose, her mysterious look, the colors, and the exquisite quality of the light.

Although it looks to be portraiture, the piece is really a “tronie” – a painting of an imagined individual depicting a specific kind of character.

Famous Artwork Portrait Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) by Johannes Vermeer; Johannes Vermeer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It features a young lovely woman wearing an exotic gown, an oriental headdress, and an unusually huge pearl in her ear. Even if a female sat and posed for this artwork, it lacks distinguishing traits – there are no warts, scarring, or blemishes to be observed. The young woman, set against a dark backdrop, wears a bright yellow and blue turban and a gleaming pearl. Her dazzling complexion reflects Vermeer’s command of light and tone, and small glints of white on her opened red lips make them look wet.

While we don’t know who the girl is, she appears to be familiar, owing to the closeness of her stare.


Death of Marat (1793) by Jacques-Louis David

ArtistJacques-Louis David
Date Created 1793
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMusée Oldmasters Museum

By 1793, the Revolutionary War’s violence had escalated to the point where beheadings at Paris’ Place de la Concorde had become a regular occurrence, prompting a certain Dr. Joseph Guillotine to devise a device that would increase the efficiency of the ax and thus make killings more humane. David was there in the middle of it.

He had joined the Jacobins early in the Revolution, a political organization that would eventually become the most zealous of the different rebel factions.

Famous Paintings of Assassinations Death of Marat (1793) by Jacques-Louis David; Jacques-Louis David, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

David made a tribute to his good friend, the slain publisher Jean Marat, in 1793, during the peak of the Campaign of Terror. David substitutes religious art iconography with more contemporary topics, as he did in his Death of Socrates. An idealized portrait of David’s killed colleague, Marat, is seen with his murderer’s letter of introduction in Death of Marat, 1793.


Ophelia (1852) by Sir John Everett Millais

ArtistSir John Everett Millais
Date Created 1852
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationTate Britain

Ophelia is regarded as one of the major classics of the Pre-Raphaelite period. Millais created a striking and unforgettable image by combining his interests in Shakespearean topics with keen attention to natural detail. His choice of the scene in Hamlet where Ophelia, driven insane by Hamlet’s death of her father, submerges herself was rare for the time.

Millais, on the other hand, was able to demonstrate both his technical ability and aesthetic vision.

Pre-Raphaelite Famous Paintings Ophelia (1851-1852) by John Everett Millais; John Everett Millais, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ophelia’s form glides in the liquid, her midsection sinking gradually. The spectator can clearly perceive the weight of the cloth as it glides, but also helps to drag her down because she is dressed in an old dress that the artist acquired just for the picture. Her hands are in a surrender stance, as though she accepts her fate. She is encircled by a range of summer wildflowers and other plants, some of which are expressly specified in Shakespeare’s text and others that are added for symbolic purposes.

The band of violets around Ophelia’s neck, for example, is a sign of fidelity, but it may also represent virginity and death.


Whistler’s Mother (1871) by James McNeill Whistler

ArtistJames McNeill Whistler
Date Created 1871
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMusée d’Orsay

Regarded as one of the most famous art paintings, It was said that Whistler’s model was unable to commit to the task, and it was at this period that James chose to execute a picture of his mother. Before the production of this iconic artwork, there was a great deal of testing. James Whistler requested his mother to model for him while standing up, but she found it too difficult.

Whistler was able to exhibit his approach in tonal arrangement and harmony in this painting.

Most Famous Paintings Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (1871), popularly known as Whistler’s Mother by James McNeill Whistler; James McNeill Whistler, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

At first sight, the artwork appears straightforward. However, upon closer scrutiny, the artwork depicts a harmony between the many forms in the image. Whistler was successful in achieving balance in the design of this piece. Various art reviewers had varied feelings about this picture at the time. Whistler’s mother’s colors and stance were thought to represent “a deep emotion of loss.” This criticism might be attributed to the artist’s choice of gloomy hues in the creation of the painting.


The Gross Clinic (1875) by Thomas Eakins

ArtistThomas Eakins
Date Created 1875
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art

Thomas Eakins’ strong attachment to his birthplace became a recurring topic throughout his career. The Gross Clinic, a painting produced in 1875 that features local physician Samuel David Gross, is perhaps his most well-known and grandiose effort for the city of Philadelphia. The scenario features Gross supervising a surgical procedure and teaching to a group of medical students, referencing Rembrandt’s art-historical predecessor The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp (1632).

Gory Famous Paintings The Gross Clinic (1875) by Thomas Eakins; Thomas Eakins, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Gross Clinic, like Rembrandt’s version, depicts medical hygienic processes of the day, but the painting’s main focus is on live humans. Eakins, who was always a portraitist, planned the piece as a visual record of everyone in the medical amphitheater.

The picture’s focal point, however, is Dr. Gross, as light and composition work together to draw the viewer’s attention to the renowned professor.


Bal du moulin de la Galette (1876) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

ArtistPierre-Auguste Renoir
Date Created 1876
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMusée d’Orsay

Translated to mean “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette“, this famous artwork is a contemporary art masterpiece that is one of the most renowned Impressionist paintings and a stunning example of Renoir’s knack for capturing dappled light. Its modernity stems from both its selected matter – a typical Sunday afternoon picture of working-class Parisians at leisure at the Moulin de la Galette – and its free Impressionist-style brushwork.

The viewer’s gaze wanders around the motion-filled surface, aware of the bold, highly colored brushstrokes yet unable to focus on any one shape in particular.

Most Famous Paintings by Renoir Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (1876) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir; Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A million separate observations are crammed onto a surface that is as dynamic as a Jackson Pollock “drip” artwork from the early 1950s. Renoir chose to portray this energetic and cheery gathering because he was intrigued by its varied nature. With this in mind, he explored and secured housing nearby at 78 Rue Cortot in 1876. It contained two living rooms and a stable that could be used as a workshop.


Portrait of Madame X (1884) by John Singer Sargent

ArtistJohn Singer Sargent
Date Created 1884
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan

Virginie Gautreau was a wealthy businessman’s wife. She was regarded as a “professional beauty,” an English word for persons who advanced socially by using their interpersonal skills and attractiveness. The picture was a proposal by Sargent to depict the young socialite rather than a commission.

What Are the Most Famous Paintings Portrait of Madame X (1884) by John Singer Sargent; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“I have a strong desire to paint her picture and have reason to suppose she would let it and is yearning for someone to offer this respect to her beauty – you may tell her that I am a person of extraordinary skill”, Sargent said in a letter to a mutual acquaintance. Madame Gautreau ultimately agreed to pose for a portrait by Sargent, who prepared numerous preparatory sketches for the main painting.

These watercolor, pencil, and oil compositions were done in a variety of postures.


A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1886) by Georges Seurat

ArtistGeorges Seurat
Date Created 1886
MediumOil Paint
Current LocationArt Institute of Chicago

Seurat was able to catch a fascinating picture of aristocratic Parisian life in the nineteenth century despite its remote position. The image prompted a slew of interpretations and was chastised for being too technical. However, upon its debut, it was hailed as a great work of precise proportions.

Seurat’s painting technique varied significantly from that of his school, and after quitting it, he opted to journey to the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Most Famous Art Paintings A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1886) by Georges Seurat; Georges Seurat, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It was here that he would discover the idea for his iconic piece of art, which would forever seal his legacy as an artist. Grande Jatte’s design and casting were reportedly as difficult as the work itself, and Seurat went through numerous drawn ideas before arriving at the final plan for the completed piece. The cast included three dogs, eight boats, and 48 people who gathered at the park on a bright Sunday afternoon.


Cafe Terrace at Night (1888) by Vincent van Gogh

ArtistVincent van Gogh
Date Created 1888
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationKröller-Müller Museum

This vibrant outdoor view painting is a stunning work of art, depicting the viewpoint of a carefree observer who enjoys the pleasures of his environment without moral concern. It echoes Van Gogh’s sentiment that “the night is more vibrant and vividly colored than the day,” as he put it. The color is brighter, and the attention is pulled to the steep edges of neighboring sections, which form irregular patterns that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

The eyes are challenged by the long-term partition of this region into a large item and backdrop theme; the distant and close areas are both different.

Famous Paintings by Van Gogh Cafe Terrace at Night (1888) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The golden color of the café contrasts with the darker blue of the faraway street and the violet of the front door, while the awning’s sharp corner closest to us brushes the distant blue sky in a compositional contradiction that serves to unite the work. Lines that are foreshortened and pushed into depth, such as the entry lintel, are perfectly parallel to lines that run in planes similar to the first, such as the yellow canopy’s slope and the house above the rooftop.


The Starry Night (1889) by Vincent van Gogh

ArtistVincent van Gogh
Date Created 1889
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMuseum of Modern Art

A night sky swirling with vivid blue spirals, a dazzling golden crescent moon, and constellations depicted as radiating spheres dominate the oil-on-canvas artwork. One or two flame-like cypress trees loom over the scene to the side, their black limbs curving and undulating to the motion of the partly obscured sky. A structured settlement lies in the distance in the bottom right of the canvas, among all of this activity.

The modest houses and the thin spire of a church, which stands as a beacon against undulating blue hills, are made out of straight, controlled lines.

Most Famous Paintings by Van Gogh The Starry Night (1889) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The luminous bright squares of the dwellings evoke the inviting lights of seRené homes, providing a calm nook among the tumult of the artwork. Van Gogh painted while in an institution for several months following a meltdown in which he amputated a portion of his own earlobe with a razor. While in the institution, he painted in spurts of production that alternated with depressive moods.


Self-Portrait Without a Beard (1889) by Vincent van Gogh

ArtistVincent van Gogh
Date Created 1889
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationPrivate Collection

Despite his own dire financial condition, Van Gogh had always supported the work of his friends, particularly Bernard and Gauguin. His brother Theo got a little sum of money in the summer of 1888, a portion of which went for Van Gogh’s ongoing care. Theo recommended Gauguin stay with Van Gogh in order to save the two painters’ expenditures by sharing their lodging.

Famous Paintings of Artists Self-Portrait Without a Beard (1889) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Though Van Gogh was excited for Gauguin to pay him a visit, he was also concerned about the additional responsibility that would be placed on Theo’s shoulders, demonstrating the complexity and polarities of Van Gogh’s relationship with his brother. Van Gogh created this Self Portrait without a Beard after his friendship with Gauguin exploded, and the mournful resonance is palpable.

It’s a frightening image, one of several portraits of the painter, whose life was unraveling as he suffered from mental worries more and more.


The Scream (1893) by Edvard Munch

ArtistEdvard Munch
Date Created 1893
MediumOil and Pastel on Board
Current LocationMunch Museum

The Scream, comparable only to Mona Lisa, may just be the most famous human image in Western art history. Its ambiguous, skull-shaped head, extended hands, huge eyes, flaring nostrils, and oval mouth have been ingrained in our shared cultural awareness; the whirling blue environment, particularly the blazing orange and yellow sky, has spawned a slew of interpretations about the scenario represented.

Popular Famous Paintings The Scream (1893) by Edvard Munch; Edvard Munch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Scream, like the Mona Lisa, has been the subject of spectacular robberies and recovery, and in 2012, a pastel on cardboard facsimile was sold to a private buyer for about $120,000,000, marking it the second-highest price paid by artwork at sale at the time.

The many renderings demonstrate the artist’s originality and enthusiasm in exploring the possibilities available via a variety of media, while the subject matter corresponds to Munch’s interests at the time in subjects of relations, existence, death, and fear.


At the Moulin Rouge (c. 1895) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

ArtistHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Date Created c. 1895
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationArt Institute of Chicago

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec has been connected with the Moulin Rouge from its inception in 1889 when the famed nightclub’s proprietor purchased the artist’s Equestrienne for the entrance. Toulouse-Lautrec was inhabited.

At the Moulin Rouge, he was joined by his cousin, doctor Gabriel Tapié de Céleyran, who was holding photographs of the famed nightclub’s regulars, including himself (the little figure in the middle background).

Famous Artwork Example At the Moulin Rouge (c. 1895) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Dancer La Goulue styles her hair behind the booth where another renowned performer, Jane Avril, is socializing. May Milton, a singer, looks out from the painting’s right edge, her face sharply lighted and acid green. The painter or his dealer trimmed down the canvas at some time to eliminate Milton, maybe because her unusual look made the painting difficult to market.


Flaming June (c. 1895) by Sir Frederic Leighton

ArtistSir Frederic Leighton
Date Created c. 1895
MediumOil Paint
Current LocationMuseo de Arte de Ponce

Flaming June is an excellent illustration of Leighton’s talent, as seen by the realism of numerous components in this image. One can nearly reach out and touch the draped material. Then there are the marbled textures and brilliant colors that catch your eye.

This picture was recently lent to the Leighton House Museum in London, which linked it with its history. It has made many trips throughout the United Kingdom before arriving in Puerto Rico.

The Most Famous Paintings Flaming June (c. 1895) by Sir Frederic Leighton; Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The original artwork was acquired at a discounted price by the Museo de Arte de Ponce due to the relative lack of interest in Victorian-era painters at the time. If they were to re-auction it, it would very certainly fetch a far higher price in today’s market. This art institution’s support has proven to be inspiring, as Leighton’s career has seen a renaissance in recent years.


Two Tahitian Women (1899) by Paul Gauguin

ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date Created 1899
MediumOil Paint
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art

Regardless of the fact that Tahiti is depicted as a faultless paradise, the picture challenges the observer with two topless ladies in a similar and traditional fashion that compares women’s bosom to fruits or blossoms. Paul Gauguin’s painting was one of his last pieces in Tahiti.

In this picture, he emphasized the tranquil and beautiful qualities of Tahiti’s native ladies.

Famous Paintings by Gauguin Two Tahitian Women (1899) by Paul Gauguin; Paul Gauguin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Gauguin used sculptural formed gestures, images, shapes, and expressions to convey the emotions he had used to characterize the famous “Tahitian Eve” in this artwork, he depicted that the Tahiti ladies were very nuanced and very understanding within their cluelessness and at the same time could stroll around naked without having to feel any guilt.


The Kiss (1908) by Gustav Klimt

ArtistGustav Klimt
Date Created 1908
MediumOils and Gold Leaf
Current LocationAustrian Gallery, Belvedere

The Kiss displays an affectionate couple kneeling in a flowery meadow. The male, dressed in a geometrically patterned robe and wearing a vine crown on his head, clutches the lady’s face as he moves in to kiss her. The female figure has flowers in her hair and wears a colorful, naturally patterned outfit that contrasts with her partner’s.

Her eyes are contentedly closed as she puts her arms around his shoulders, enhancing the scene’s tranquility and closeness.

Famous Art Paintings The Kiss (1908) by Gustav Klimt; Gustav Klimt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Gustav Klimt was a participant of the Secessionist Style and a forerunner of Symbolism, a European artistic movement defined by mystical elements, a personalized attitude to the creative arts, and a style related to contemporary Art Nouveau movements. The Kiss, which was produced during his dazzling “Golden Period,” exemplifies his inimitable style.


The Cyclops (c. 1914) by Odilon Redon

ArtistOdilon Redon
Date Created c. 1914
MediumOil on Board
Current LocationKröller-Müller Museum

Galatea is seen sleeping on the lower right, her bare figure melting into the floral hill slope. The shoulders of Polyphemus rise over a mountain range in the top part of the image, as he turns his one eye towards the direction of the naiad.

Polyphemus seemed to have concealed himself from the sprite behind the rocky landscape, too afraid to address her “helpless” figure directly.

Mythological Famous Paintings The Cyclops (c. 1914) by Odilon Redon; Odilon Redon, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Although the artwork’s title relates to a character from Classical myth, the picture may also allude to the one-eyed giants who inhabit legend in the Aquitaine area where Redon grew up. The cyclops depicted by Redon show a remarkable similarity to real-life examples of cyclopia, which is thought to be a probable genesis of the story of the cyclopes due to the similarities exhibited in patients, particularly humans, with the disease.


Three Musicians (1921) by Pablo Picasso

ArtistPablo Picasso
Date Created 1921
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationGallatin Collection

Three Musicians appears to be a collage formed from cut-out pieces of colorful paper, despite the fact that it is an oil painting. The forms are reduced to angular patterns that connect like jigsaw puzzles, and the flat colors produce a surface design with many spatial uncertainties.

The backdrop wall is dark brown, as are a foreground table, sections of the characters’ features, and the figure of a dog lying under the table.

The mask of Harlequin is part of a vast, complicated blue form that covers most of the Pierrot. The same blue occurs in the painting’s lower third, potentially as furnishings, and on the tabletop as a component of still life. While certain things, such as the guitar in the middle and the sheet music and clarinet on the left, are clearly identified, others, such as the pile of goods on the table, are less so.


American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood

ArtistGrant Wood
Date Created 1930
MediumOil on Beaverboard
Current LocationRoyal Academy of Arts

The image portrays a middle-aged couple, commonly understood as a farmer and his wife or daughter, posing in front of their residence, a wooden farm constructed in the Carpenter Gothic architectural style popular in the 1890s. Because the people are so close to the observer, little of the backdrop is visible.

The artist had based the farmstead on Dibble House, a home he saw in Eldon, Iowa, and outfitted his sister Nan and his dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby, as figures for the couple.

Popular Paintings American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood; Grant Wood, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Because of its resemblance to the traditional image of Midwest rural inhabitants, complete with pitchfork and dungarees, many art critics interpreted the painting as a caustic parody of small-town culture. When a duplicate of the photograph emerged in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, it sparked outrage. Wood’s description of them as grim-faced puritans infuriated readers.


The Persistence of Memory (1931) by Salvador Dalí

ArtistSalvador Dalí
Date Created 1931
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMuseum of Modern Art

The Persistence of Memory has a self-portrait with a soft watch draped over it. These soft watches depict what Dalí referred to as the “camembert of time,” implying that the idea of time had lost any value in the subconscious world. The ants swarming over the pocket watch imply decoy, which is nonsensical given that the timepiece is metallic.

These “paranoid-critical” visuals represent Dalí’s interpretation and assimilation of the Freudian theory of the unconscious and its availability to the dormant wishes and psychosis of the human psyche, such as the subconscious fear of dying alluded to in this artwork.

Dalí enhanced the effect generated even more by the use of methods ranging from Johannes Vermeer’s precision to Carriere’s blurred shapes. Once he had provided his protagonist’s psychological liberty, he built connections between them by presenting them in space – most frequently in a landscape – thus producing harmony in the painting by the contrast of things with no relation in a setting where they did not fit.


The Flower Carrier (1935) by Diego Rivera

ArtistDiego Rivera
Date Created 1935
MediumOil and Tempera
Current LocationSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art

A peasant in white attire with yellow sombrero struggles on all fours with a ridiculously enormous basket of flowers attached to his shoulders with a yellow strap in the vibrant artwork. A lady, most likely the farmer’s spouse, stands behind him, attempting to assist with the basket’s support as he strives to climb to his feet.

While the blossoms in the basket are startlingly lovely to the observer, the person sees solely their worth as he transports them to the market to sell or trade. The geometric designs provide striking contrasts, with each human, item, and greenery shown to convey individualism.

Some say that the massive basket slung to the man’s back represents the burdens of an unskilled worker in a contemporary, capitalistic environment.


Guernica (1937) by Pablo Picasso

ArtistPablo Picasso
Date Created 1937
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Some consider Pablo Picasso’s masterwork of the Spanish Civil Battle to be the single finest war artwork of all history. Picasso’s artwork, in addition to being a huge allegorical picture of the horrors of war, may have purposely molded spectators into proactive participants, promoting both collective change and policy choices.

Picasso hoped that by doing so, he would be able to impact changes in government policy and expand the dialogue beyond the confines of his war-torn country.

Popular Paintings About Politics A replica of Guernica (1937) by Pablo Picasso; Winfried Weithofer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This planned development of a tremendous masterwork should be studied and admired as part of a larger wartime story. More significantly, the examination of wartime art may be a beneficial contribution to military officers’ professional growth by offering alternatives for professional debate about how societies understand winners, defeats, and the worth of battles through the prism of artists and cultural legacy.


The Two Fridas (1939) by Frida Kahlo

ArtistFrida Kahlo
Date Created 1939
MediumOil on Canvas
Current LocationMuseo de Arte Moderno

Several scholars believe that the two characters in the picture symbolize Frida’s blended background. Guillermo Kahlo, her father, was German, and Matilde Calderon, her mother, was Mexican. Another explanation is that the Tehuana Frida was cherished by her husband Diego Rivera, whilst the European Frida was spurned by him.

The painting is based on Frida’s remembrance of a childhood fictitious companion. Both Fridas have objects on their laps: the Mexican Frida has a little painting of Diego Rivera in her lap, and the Continental Frida has forceps.

Blood flows down the white dress of the European Frida from a damaged blood vessel severed by the forceps.


No. 5, 1948 (1948) by Jackson Pollock

ArtistJackson Pollock
Date Created 1948
Medium Oil on Fiberboard
Current LocationPrivate Collection

This piece was constructed on an eight-by-four-foot piece of fiberboard. Jackson Pollock’s approach for this piece was the utilization of liquid paints. He opted to abandon the traditional method of painting on canvas. No. 5 can be seen with a lot of brown and yellow paint splattered over it. Pollock was motivated to make this painting by his personal feelings. He departed from the customary use of liquid paints.

The painting’s pattern seems nest-like and elicited a variety of feelings among individuals who saw it.

This complexity and attention propelled this masterpiece to the top of the art world. Pollock’s predominant approach for No. 5 was action painting, or the impulsive dribbling, spreading, and tossing of liquid paint. Pollock also desired to introduce a whole new viewpoint to painting. He sought to represent the climax of the artist’s passion in his own unique painting technique with No. 5.


The Son of Man (1964) by René Magritte

ArtistRené Magritte
Date Created 1964
MediumOil on canvas
Current LocationPrivate collection

Harry Torczyner, Magritte’s close friend, counselor, and patron commissioned a self-portrait of the artist in 1963. However, letters published by Magritte show that he struggled to create his own portrait. Magritte referred to his troubles as a “conscience problem.” When Magritte completed his self-portrait, the resultant image was of an unknown gentleman wearing a bowler hat and captioned “The Son of Man.”

It looks to be a simple drawing at first glance, yet it is immensely puzzling.