From paintings scrawled on the walls of caves from neolithic times to modern-day art, paintings have survived the test of time. Across ages, the world has been marked by the works of exceptional artists that have been remembered across centuries. Art has been collected and appreciated regardless of people’s nationality and culture. Some paintings were given the honour of classics and others were forgotten. Famous paintings in the world include art that has been discussed and appreciated around the world for their beauty. 

Most Famous Paintings In The World

1. Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, louvre
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

One of the most mysterious and famous paintings in the world, Mona Lisa has been the centre of many discussions across centuries. Painted by Leonardo da Vinci, there are many theories behind the identity of the lady in the painting, and the reason behind her enigmatic smile. Some believe that she is the painter’s mother Caterina, painted as he remembered her from his childhood, others believe she is the wife of a merchant from Florence called Francesco del Giocondo and her name was Francesco del Giocondo. It is also speculated that it is a self-portrait of da Vinci in drag. Painted between 1503 and 1517,  Mona Lisa was deemed as the best painting of the world and intrigued many people because it is the earliest Italian portrait that depicted a half-length portrait and specific attention towards the person. You can view the painting at the Louvre Museum in Paris. 

2. Starry Night

Van gogh Starry night
Starry night by Vincent Van Gogh

Painted in 1889, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night is believed to have depicted his unsettling state of mind. He painted The Starry Night, one of the most famous paintings in the world, while he was at an asylum at Saint-Rémy. His view from the window of his room in the asylum is said to have inspired the painting. His admiration for nature and the yin and yang balance of his internal thoughts is believed to have fuelled his imagination to create the painting. The Starry Night, believed to be the world’s best painting, is known for its thick brushstrokes and the resulting swirls and orbs painted in blue and yellow. It’s kept people interested and awed. You can find the painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. 

3. The Last Supper

Mosaic of Last supper by Leonardo Da Vinci
The Last supper of Jesus by Leonardo da Vinci, in the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

One of the most famous paintings in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper measures 4.6 meters in height and 8.8 meters in length. The painting depicts Jesus with his disciples before his crucifixion. The painting stands out because da Vinci painted the piece on the wall of the refectory instead of using the conventional method of painting a fresco. Preserved at the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy, the painting was in danger twice. Once when Napolean’s troops used the painting’s wall as target practice and another during World War II, due to the bombings when Santa Maria delle Grazie’s Dominican convent’s roof was demolished exposing the painting to natural elements. 

4. Girl With A Pearl Earring

Girl With A Pearl Earring was painted by Johannes Vermeer around 1665, and is at the Mauritshuis in Hague, Netherlands. Among the most famous paintings, Girl With A Pearl Earring is a classic example of a tronie, a particular type of painting in the Dutch Golden Age, where instead of depicting an exact resemblance of the subject, the portrait exaggerates their facial expressions. One of the best paintings of the world, the girl in the painting sits very still, enough to start the debate if Vermeer’s used a camera obscura, a pre-photographic device. The painting depicts a girl wearing a large pearl earring with a gold and blue turban, looking over her shoulder, seeming to make eye contact and forming a bond with the viewer. It is rumoured that the girl in the painting is Vermeer’s maid. If you wish to view this painting, visit the Mauritshuis in Hague, Netherlands. 

5. The Scream

The Scream by Edvard Munch was painted in 1893, but slowly grew over the years as a universal symbol of anxiety. The original version of the image was a painting, but two years later, based on the first version, Munch created a lithograph and titled it The Scream. There are two versions of the painting and they are both displayed at Oslo National Gallery and Munch Museum. The painting depicts a man closing his ears while his mouth forms an ‘O’. Despite what the title and the painting might suggest, the individual is not screaming. According to Munch, the scream came from his surreal surroundings.  

6. The Birth Of Venus

The birth of venus - botticelli - ufizzi florence
The Birth Of Venus

The Birth Of Venus was believed to be commissioned by the Medici family, and depicts the goddess of love and beauty stepping on the island of Cyprus. The painting also has Zephyr, Aura, and a lady carrying a cloak with flowers on it, a symbol of spring. Among the best paintings of the world, the Birth Of Venus was painted by Sandro Botticelli around 1485. It was one of the first paintings that was not Christian and depicted nudity. It was also a bold move for him to paint on canvas when all of his contemporaries were painting on wood. The painting is an amalgamation of Greek mythology with Early Renaissance style. You can view the painting at Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi in Florence, Italy.

7. The Kiss

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Painted between 1907 and 1908 by Gustav Klimt, The Kiss is believed to depict how love is central to human existence. The Kiss is said to combine styles like Symbolism and Viennese Art Nouveau. The painting depicts a couple’s intimacy, with them wearing ornamental robes showing a Byzantine artistic influence. Between 1899 and 1910, Klimt went through a Golden Phase, where he used a golden leaf technique. The Kiss is supposed to be at this peak. A painting that is not for sale, you can view The Kiss at Upper Belvedere museum in Vienna. 

8. Guernica

Painted by the world famous painter, Pablo Picasso, the Guernica was created during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. It depicts the suffering and atrocities of war while the Germans bombed Guernica, Basque. The leftist government during the time stood against the Fascist leader Francisco Franco and commissioned Picasso to paint it for the Spanish Pavillion at the World Fair in Paris. Later, the painting was loaned to the Museum of Modern Art in New York on the condition that once Spain gained democracy, the painting would be returned. The painting did go back to Picasso’s motherland in 1981. The Guernica can now be viewed at Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid. 

9. Creation Of Adam

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Another world famous painter Michelangelo painted the Creation Of Adam, which is today one of the most famous paintings in the world. Painted between 1508 to 1512, the painting can be viewed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Part of popular culture and one of the most recreated paintings, the Creation Of Adam portrays God and Adam stretching their arms with their fingers almost touching, as God grants Adam life. Some of Michelangelo’s other famous paintings include the entire Sistine Chapel ceiling, The Torment of Saint Anthony, Doni Tondo, and Moses. 

10. The Persistence Of Memory

One of the main figures in the 20th-century movement of Surrealism, Salvador Dali was influenced by Impressionism and Renaissance art. With the Persistence Of Memory, Dali wanted to undermine the construct of reality with ants surrounding metal objects and clocks that melted. He wanted to show how there is no sense of time as we know it, when we are surrounded by decay. There is a small part of reality in the background, with the backdrop of the painting being the coast of Catalonia which is also Dalí’s home. The painting is currently at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.

Treasure Brilliance

Art has led humankind through many ages and brought about movements that have changed the course of history. With periods like the Renaissance, the world witnessed the power of art bringing about new schools of thought to the masses. Art must be preserved and protected so it reflects the ongoings of the period it belongs to. 

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