Top 10 Famous Art Paintings

| April 24, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Manchesterartwork has chosen these paintings below for the Top 10 Famous Art Paintings


1. The Mona Lisa (La Giaconda) by Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

Born, April 15th 1452 near Florence. Died, May 2nd 1519, Movement Renaissance.

Mona Lisa (La Gioconda)

This painting is now so famous that it is difficult to imagine how fresh and innovate it must have looked to Leonardo’s contemporaries.  The relaxed naturalism of the pose, with the hands casually overlapping, and the intriguing subtlety of the expression would have made most earlier portraits look stiff.  It has been stolen twice and now resides in the Louvre, Paris. When the Mona Lisa visited America in the 1960s, it gained a prominence close to that of the then US president JFK. The mysterious landscape, too, differs greatly from the plain background characteristic of the  15th -century portraits. c 1503-05, oil on panel, 77 x 53 cm, in the Louvre, Paris France.


2.  Girl with a Pearl Earring by Jan Vermeer

Born, (Baptised) 31st October 1632 Netherlands, died, 15th December 1675, Movement Dutch Golden Age BaroqueGirl with a Pearl Earring

Against a dark background, a girl turns to look almost questioningly, towards the viewer.  This exquisite painting gains its effect through striking simple composition, pearly lighting and muted harmony of yellow and blue. c 1665 – 1666, Oil on canvas, 44 x 39cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands.


3.   The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Born, April 15th 1452 near Florence. Died, May 2nd 1519, Movement Renaissance.

c 1495 – 1498, experimental technique on plaster, 460 x 880 cm refectory of the Monastery of S.Maria delle Grazie, Milan Italy.

The Last Supper

Leonardo’s patron in Milan, Duke Ludovico Sforza, commissioned him to decorate the refectory of the Dominican monastery of S. Maria delle Grazie, which housed the Duke’s family chapel.  His coat of arms appears above the painting.  The mural took Leonardo about three years, to the Duke’s irritation.  Often he just stood on the scaffolding and looked at it for hours at a time without painting a stroke.  On completion, the painting became instantly famous and was copied by numerous artists, including Peter Paul Rubens.  Sadly, by the 17th century, it was in such a dilapidated state that the monks cut a doorway through the centre of the wall.  The refectory was reduced to rubble by bombs in World War II but the sandbagged wall survived – just.


4.  The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

Born July 14th, 1862, Baumgarten, Austrian Empire, Died February 6th, 1918, Vienna, Austria-Hungry. Movement, Symbolism, Art Nouveau.

1907 – 1908, 180 x 80 cm, Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria

The Kiss

There is no other painting in Western art so celebrated for its depiction of sensual love.  The image is not just an intimate moment, but a universalized embrace between the sexes.  of the couple’s bodies we see only the man’s head and neck, and the hands that courage his lover’s lip towards his own.  Of the woman, we are shown only face, arm hands and feet.  The pictorial space is dominated by elaborate decorative motifs made up of geometric patterns and flowers.  It is astonishing that with so little of the couple depicted, Klimt so readily convinces us of their intimacy. To read more about the mass appeal of the Kiss, go to the BBC – Mass Appeal.


5.  American Gothic by Grant DeVolson Wood

Born February 13th, 1891, Anamosa, Iowa, died February 12th, 1942, Iowa. Movement Regionalism

American Gothic by Grant DeVolson Wood

American Gothic was named after the architectural style of the window in the background.  Wood portrays an enigmatic, impassive farming couple in affectionate detail, 1930, Oil on board, 74 x 62 cm, Art Institute of Chicago, US. The figures were modeled by the artist’s dentist and sister.  The woman is dressed in a colonial print apron mimicking 19th century Americana and the couple are in the traditional roles of men and women, the man’s pitchfork symbolizing hard labor, and the flowers over the woman’s right shoulder suggesting domesticity.


6.  Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

Born, 30th March 1853, Died, 29th July 1890, Dutch.  Movement Post – Impressionism


7. Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant) is a painting by Claude Monet. It gave rise to the name of the Impressionist movement.

  Born, 14th November 1840, Paris France, Died, 5th December 1926, Giverny, France.



Dated 1872, its subject is the harbour of Le Havre in France, using very loose brush strokes that suggest rather than delineate it. Monet explained the title later: Landscape is nothing but an impression, and an instantaneous one, hence this label that was given us, by the way because of me. I had sent a thing done in Le Havre, from my window, sun in the mist and a few masts of boats sticking up in the foreground….They asked me for a title for the catalogue, it couldn’t really be taken for a view of Le Havre, and I said: ‘Put Impression.’ he painting was stolen from the Musée Marmottan Monet in 1985 by Philippe Jamin and Youssef Khimoun but recovered in 1990. Since 1991 it has been back on display in the museum.


8. The Great Wave of Kanagawa by Katsushika Holusai

Born, September 23rd, 1760, died May 10th, 1849 Japan.


The Great Wave

A dramatic composition, the artist Holusai emphasizes the great power of nature and the precariousness of human existence.  It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats near the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is, as the picture’s title notes, more likely to be a large okinami – literally “wave of the open sea.” 1831 from Thirtysix Views of Mt Fuji, polychrome woodblock print, 26 x 37 cm, British Museum, London, UK


9.  Bal au Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Born 25th February 1841, Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France, Died, 3rd December 1919, France.  Movement Impressionism


Bal au Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre Pierre-Auguste Renoir


Bal du moulin de la Galette (commonly known as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette) is an 1876 painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and is one of Impressionism‘s most celebrated masterpieces. The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon at Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre in Paris. In the late 19th century, working class Parisians would dress up and spend time there dancing, drinking, and eating galettes into the evening. Like other works of Renoir’s early maturity, Bal du moulin de la Galette is a typically Impressionist snapshot of real life. It shows a richness of form, a fluidity of brush stroke, and a flickering light.


10.  The Persistence of Memory (Spanish: La persistencia de la memoria; Catalan: La persistència de la memòria) is a 1931 painting by artist Salvador Dalí

Born May 11th, 1904, Spain, Died, January 23rd, 1989, Spain. Movement, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism.

The Persistence of Memory.


The artist describes working on the a painting of a landscape near Port Lligat, in Northeast Spain, “with rocks lit by a transparent and melancholy twilight – in the foreground and with branches cut”.  He relates how after ending his evening meal with strong Camembert cheese, he “mediated on the philosophic problems of the supper soft” before going to look for one last time that day at the work in progress.  It was then that the image of two soft watches, one hanging from a branch of a tree occurred to him.  Just two hours later, he says ” the picture was complete”.

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Category: Art Lists, Art Reviews