Paintings carry the art form of one century into another. For centuries, paintings and artworks of such kinds have contributed to the knowledge of humankind’s previous ways of life. Some of these paintings become famous beyond the artist’s wildest dreams, and others spiral into invisibility; anyhow, here is our list of the top 15 most famous paintings the world has ever known.
1. Mona Lisa
This shouldn’t come off as a surprise. The painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the most famous painting there ever was. This masterpiece was created sometime between the year 1503 to 1519 and is said to be the painting of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florence merchant Francesco del Giocondo, with an enigmatic smile plastered to her face. Still, the assumption cannot be stated as a fact. The current home of the painting is the Louvre Museum, Paris.
2. The Last Supper
This is another one of the many brilliant artworks of Leonardo da Vinci, and the painting comes very close to Mona Lisa in terms of fame. The estimated date of this painting being is sometime between 1495 to 1498. It depicts Jesus Christ and the last time he had supper with his disciples. This painting is a giant fresco and has survived two wartime attempts of destruction. The fresco is located at Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan, Italy.
3. The Starry Night
As it is evident from the name, The Starry Night is a surreal and abstract painting of a night-view presented in the signature bold and innovative strokes of the artist Vincent Van Gogh. The painting was inspired by the view out the window of Van Gogh’s room in the asylum of Saint-Rémy, France, where he was being treated for his mental illness in 1889. It is displayed in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
4. The Scream
The Scream is not a single painting. According to a British museum blog, there were two pastels, two paintings, and an unspecified number of prints. This intriguing artwork by Edvard Munch currently resides in the National Museum and the Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway. In 2012, one of the pastels was sold for approx $120 million at auction. The painting is inspired by Munch’s experience when a red hue overwhelmed his senses when he was on his evening walk.
5. Guernica: A Symbol Against War
This famous painting painted in 1937 by Pablo Picasso depicts the German aerial bombing of the town of Guernica in the Basque region during the Spanish Civil War. The painting conveys the importance and vivacity of art in the 20th century and has that Picasso element. You can see the famous painting in Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.
6. The Kiss
The life-sized painting of a couple kissing painted by Gustav Klimt sometime between the years 1907 to 1908 is said to be the painter’s way of expressing his belief of how at the core of all the human emotions, there is one unforgettable sentiment— Love. And if we look at the magnetic effect it has on people, Klimt successfully delivered the message. This famous painting is currently displayed in the Upper Belvedere Museum, Vienna, Austria.
7. Girl With A Pearl Earring
The beautiful oil on canvas painting of an imaginary girl in a gold and blue turban with a big pearl earring and a black backdrop painted by Johannes Vermeer in 1665 makes it to number 7 on our list. The intriguing masterpiece brings tourist and art enthusiasts from all over the globe to its home in Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands.
8. The Birth Of Venus
The glorious canvas painting of the Roman Goddess of love, Venus, emerging from a giant scallop shell, which depicts the birth of the Goddess, painted by Sandro Botticelli in 1485, is perhaps the oldest painting on our list. It is deemed likely that a wealthy and art-loving family that ruled Florence and nearby areas for centuries commissioned the artist for the painting. The result was the famous sensuous painting today housed in Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy.
9. Las Meninas
The most praised and famous work of the artist Diego Velázquez that was painted in 1656, Las Meninas, is a painting of Spanish royalty and a self-portrait. The painting depicts a group portrait of Spanish royalty, and Diego has also painted himself (on the left) working on one of his paintings. The famous painting is housed in Museo del Prado in Madrid.
10. Creation of Adam
It is among the most famous works of the praised artist Michelangelo, who decorated the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Vatican City. You will see God and Adam with their fingers outstretched and nearly touching. The famous painting, which is also one of the most replicated in history, depicts Adam’s creation, the first man ever created by God. It was made between 1508 to 1512.
11. American Gothic
This 1930 painting by Grant Wood depicts a house which is now known as the American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, and what type of people he imagined would live there. The painting is currently displayed in the Art Institute of Chicago. A grim-looking woman and a similarly sneering man with a pitchfork in hand are portrayed in the famous painting, which is thought to be modeled on Wood’s sister and their dentist.
12. Water Lilies
Water Lilies is a painting series by the renowned artist Claude Monet, consisting of about 250 paintings of water bodies and the flowers (lilies) flourishing. These were painted from the core idea, and the inspiration for the same was drawn from the artist’s flower garden at his home in Giverny. He started painting the series in 1889, and the different paintings are displayed in various museums all over the world. Some of these paintings have been auctioned at towering prices, and some still grace the museums for everyone to see.
13. The Persistence Of Memory
Painted by the artist Salvador Dalí, The Persistence Of Memory is a 1931 painting depicting a surreal vision of softly melting pocket watches strewn about the scene. Many explanations as to why the artist created this work of art have been given. The painting is owned and displayed in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
14. The Night Watch
This 1642 artwork by Rembrandt van Rijn is a famous Dutch Golden Age painting. It depicts a static military group but what makes it stand out is the unique and gripping shadow and light use, which is rather dramatic. By the 18th century, multiple layers of varnish to preserve the painting gave the look of a nighttime view and thus the name. The painting currently sits in Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
15. The Garden of Earthly Delights
The Garden of Earthly Delights is the modern name given to a triptych oil painting on an oak panel painted by the master, Hieronymus Bosch, between 1490 and 1510. The meaning of the painting is interpreted in many ways: the desire of flesh being portrayed, the artists warning about how this takes us towards our peril, and even evoking ultimate sexual pleasure. Anyhow, the symbolism and metaphors in these paintings are abundant. Museo Nacional del Prado currently houses the famous painting.