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20 Most Famous Paintings in The History of The World

Art has always been fascinating to human eyes, especially in form of paintings, be it oil paintings or watercolour or spray paintings. It could be the fine brush strokes or the wonderful use of colours in paintings, which mesmerises the viewer, and so have given the world quite a few classics, which have been held on dearly by art nobles. These great works gradually were recognised as classics universally and have eclipsed time and other artistic concepts to create a history.

Art lovers frequent museums and art galleries across the world to view these classics, and these paintings have gradually become familiar to people of all cultures and ages, which come to resonate in their minds for centuries. Thus, according to their universal recognition and maximum artistic impact, here enlisted are 20 most famous paintings in the history of the world.


Created By – Leonardo da Vinci

Year – 1503-1519

Mona Lisa is the most recognised, and probably the most visited artwork in the world is this renaissance masterpiece by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. The portrait is revered for the smile of the woman, an ambiguous expression, as well as its depiction of a harmonious connection, of nature with humanity. The portrait has been mentioned in tales, plays, songs and even has been a part of parodied work. The portrait is now on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.


Created By – Vincent van Gogh

Year – 1889

Widely considered as his magnum opus, Starry Night has been one of the famous paintings by Vincent van Gogh. With beautiful brush strokes and rich use of a color palette, Starry Night depicts the observation and imagination of a view Gogh saw from his room when he painted this. The piece is currently on display in Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Created By – Michelangelo

Year – 1508-1512

One of the most famous nude painting in the art history is The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. It is the central element in the Sistine Chapel fresco in Vatican, and depicts the biblical story of creation of man, when God breathes life into Adam. Michelangelo has painted the scene with vibrant colours and incredible detailing. Being a sculpture more importantly, Michelangelo’s strongest skills in painting are the musculature and twisted forms in nude arts.


Created By – Sandro Botticelli

Year – mid 1480s

Revered as a great treasure of the renaissance, The Birth of Venus has been Botticelli’s most famous painting. The painting depicts the Roman goddess of love and marriage, Venus and reflects the ancient world with the nude central figure. Considered as the first non-religious nude painting of Venus since the ancient times, this masterpiece was composed in the 1480s and is on display in Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. 


Created By – Edvard Munch

Year – 1893

A now famous expressionist painting by Edvard Munch, The Scream has been his most famous creation, using oil and pastel on cardboard. It features a ghoulish figure and would reflect a haunting face in the mind of the viewers. Along with the painting of Mona Lisa, The Scream has also been another parodied work, and is the second most iconic human figure after the former.


Created By – Pablo Picasso

Year – 1937

One of Picasso’s most famous work has been the Guernica, which was commissioned by the Spanish government originally, and was inspired by the bombings of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. The figures’ pain and grief are distinct in the painting, while the piece as such portrays atrocities of war, and thus became famous worldwide as an awareness for preventing wars and now stands as symbol for peace. Picasso used a monochromatic palette of black, white, and grey in this huge painting, which was kept in the Museum of Modern Art in New York for 19 years, until being returned to Spain after civil liberties and democratic rights were restored.


Created By – Rembrandt van Rijn

Year – 1642

Originally known as De Nachtwacht, this painting was commissioned by a militia captain and his 17 militia to Rembrandt, where he had to make their Company. It was painted as an effort to show off the Company to the then French Queen who would be visiting, but the piece went on to become a renowned piece of art in modern culture. This now belongs in the collections of the Amsterdam Museum as one of the most famous Golden Age Dutch paintings, owing to its effective use of sunlight and shade.


Created By – Leonardo da Vinci

Year – 1495-1498

Another famous work of Vinci, only after the Monalisa is the Last Supper. The painting has been a difficult composition, with its long table and thirteen characters, placed according to the original narrative. The painting depicts the moment when Jesus tells his disciples that one of them will betray him. Being a delicate work of art, the painting has faced serious deterioration from the end of 15th Century, owing to the use of caustic solvents, attempt to remove from wall, and even the bombings of the Second World War. The painting is a product of the Renaissance period, where Vinci has used linear perspective technique for the painting. The painting is housed in Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.


Created By – James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Year – 1871

Originally titled as The Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist’s Mother, it is one of the few American pieces on the list of famous paintings in art history. The woman in the painting is indeed considered as James Whistler’s mother, Anna Matilda McNeill Whistler, who is seen sitting composed and gazing steadily into nothing. The painting is owned by a Parisian museum since the time it was brought up by the French state in 1891 and has been outside US since then.


Created By – Johannes Vermeer

Year – 1665

Considered as ‘Monalisa of the North’, this enchanting painting by the Dutch painter Vermeer, depicts exactly what the name suggests. A pretty girl with contrasting colour of blue for her headdress and gold for her dress, and a striking huge pearl, with an offset background. What might seem as a simple portrait, this comes out as a charming and much accoladed art, which is now on display in Mauritshuis Gallery in Hague.

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