22 most famous paintings

While the world has seen many impressive paintings and works of art, it should be noted that there are a few that have remained timeless. These timeless paintings are such that would leave you enchanted when you see them. However, when discussing some of the most famous paintings in the world, it is almost impossible to do this without talking about renaissance fine art and Italian Renaissance painters in particular. At this juncture, it becomes imperative to examine what really makes a great painting. While it is difficult to pinpoint the core elements that contribute to making a painting particularly famous, it should be noted that the technique used in the creation of the art, the idea that is communicated through the art and the relevance of the art are some of the few factors that contribute to making an art very famous. Just like fine wine, some of the most famous paintings are such that have been around for some time. If there is one thing that is consistent with the most famous paintings and celebrated artworks, they were created by visionaries and their paintings communicated a message.  Expectedly, the most famous artworks the world have ever seen are equally quite valuable and expensive. The most expensive painting is set at $106.5 million and this gives great insight into how expensive some of the most famous artworks can be. Ultimately the most famous artworks are such that will leave you enchanted and fascinated while communicating the message and inspiration of the artist.  With that being’s aid, here are 22 most famous artworks in the world today in an ascending order.

22. The Luncheon on the Grass by Édouard Manet

The Luncheon on the Grass.

Image via

This painting engendered a lot of controversies when it was first to put up for exhibition and still engenders a lot of curiosity and uncertainty till this day.  This oil painting falls into the category of an impressionistic work. However, it is unclear as to what the message of the painter is. As the name of this painting suggests, it is a luncheon that features their characters at the forefront. A naked woman and two fully dressed men. Interestingly, the naked women with beautiful olive skin are staring right at the viewer of the picture or so it seems while both male characters seem to be engaged in a conversation. At the back of the trio, you will find an almost naked lady bathing in a stream. The lady at the rear seems to be minding her own business and does not seem to interact with any of the characters in the forefront. In addition to the fact that there as contention over this painting because the women in the picture seemed to be degraded, many were puzzled by the fact that the lad at the forefront and the other at the back seemed to be left out the conversation both men were having. Some would say this was to show the deplorable state of women in society. While this explanation seems unverifiable, it is even more puzzling that there is no metaphorical significance for her nakedness. Created by Édouard Manet, this reputation as the father of impressionism only seemed to be reinforced. This painting is said to fall under the category of history painting. 

21. The Scream by Edvard Much

The Scream.

Image via

The scream is one motif that has engendered a lot of fascination and continues to remain a celebrated work of art. Merely looking at this artwork, you will immediately get a sense that the artist communicated his inspiration in the most vivid and understandable way. Created by Edvard Much in 1893, The Scream of can be best described as highly expressionistic and depicts the environment in the most captivating way. You will find that the sky has a strong orange-like color which may give the impression that the time of the day was the evening. This painting also features the main character with both hands on her face clasping with the mouth wide open in raging shock. The face of the main character seems somewhat exaggerated and designed solely to give an expression as opposed to show a real face. This mysterious painting by the Norwegian strongly captures emotions and expressions. While it remains largely unclear as to why the main character has such a loud scream, it must be reasserted that this painting has a tone that will send chills down your spine.

20. Mont Sainte-Victoire by Cézanne

Mont Sainte-Victoire.

Image via

The Mount Sainte Victoire painting was created by Paul Cézanne and shows some of the most fascinating views of landscape, trees, and nature. The painting offers a clear and intimate detail of a view that the painter is intrigued about. Expectedly, you can see all of the views and ranges of the area in which he attempts to show, you will get an incredible sense of how the area looks because he was able t0 create a very compelling and vivid atmosphere with blue skies while capturing the terrain. Currently located in the Princeton University Art Museum this oil painting enjoys the 19th place on this list. 

19. Dance by Matisse

Dance by Matisse.

Image via

Hile most famous paintings typically come from the Renaissance period, it should be pointed out that there are some famous paintings that were created as early as s the 19th century. With that being said, Dance happens to be a painting that falls in this category. Created by Matisse in 1909 for an affluent Russian entrepreneur. While this oil painting appears to be somewhat uncomplicated in appearance, it is in fact, very intricate as the painting was designed to communicate the inspiration of the artists in the most captivating way. Dance painting shows people dancing around I a circle. In order to execute this painting with stunning accuracy, the painter adopted a somewhat unusual painting style that evokes very strong emotions of blissful and pleasurable dance by some folks. Its seems almost tribalistic or ritualistic, the effect used is such that enables you to feel the weight and pressure of the dancers' movement. More so, his painting depicts a strig imagery of play like has never been seen in a wok of panting. For all of these and more, the painting is worth a staggering $33.6 million and earns the 21st place on this list of most famous artworks.

18. The Sistine Madonna by Raphael

The Sistine Madonna.

Image via

This sizzling work of art was created by an Italian painter known as Raphael Sanzio in the renaissance period of 15212. Just like many other paintings of its time, this painting was commissioned by a religious patron who happened to be the Pope Julius II. This painting features Madonna at the center of the piece holding Jesus Christ tenderly in her arms. At the base of the painting, you will find that two cherubim looked up at her and the baby Christ with a gaze of approval and admiration. Finally, the picture contained St Sixtus and St Barbara who seemed to be in awe of what they were seeing.  Various analysis believes that St Sixtus was pointing to the congregation of the faithful as if to tell Madonna and Jesus Christ that these are your people. His painting has attracted a lot of admiration and has been the subject of many appreciations over the years. While the whereabouts of this painting remains largely unknown it can be asserted that this one of the best renaissance artworks.

17. The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Image via

This work of art is in fact, a three-panel oil painting that seems to depict a parliament of human beings and mystical creatures as well. It should be noted that this painting is found within the religious context of the time in which it as created. With the concept of Heaven and hell being very prominent themes, this ideological painting depicts the introduction of even to Adam in what seemed more like an idyllic state in the first panel. However, the next panel seemed to be somewhat filled with commotion and degradation of human beings as palpable suffering and destruction could be seen. A gigantic bird-beaked bird swallowing humans and excreting them into hole filed with stinking emissions from humans is an imagery that is evocative of hell. The disorderly and chaotic nature of the series of vents following the introduction of even to Adam seem to gain pervasive acceptance and admiration. Created by Hieronymus Bosch in 1503–1515, this three-panel renaissance oil painting captures the divine presence of God and man in the garden, the fall of man into depravity and earthly pleasure with the final panel capturing the woes of hell.

16. Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette by Edward Renoir

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette.

Image via

This masterwork was created by a French artists known as Edward Renoir and can be adequately described as an impressionistic form of art. This art captures emotions and scenery of a dance party and was executed by the artist with a unique painting technique.  The use of a blend of blight color was able to evoke a vivid sense of excitement and was very crucial in showing emotions of joy, happiness, and merriment. A perspective style most dancers in the rear of the picture with people having a cheerful conversation at the forefront. When you consider the flexibility of brush strokes, it immediately gives a sense of merriment and movement. This approach was equally used to create flickering lights and a powerful imagery of bubbly excitement. This painting was auctioned for an estimated $78 million. This amazing work of art is widely recognized and is at number 16 on this list.

15. Birth of Venus by Botticelli

Birth of Venus.
Image via

It is widely held that this painting was made to order for the powerful Medici house by Botticelli. Interestingly, this painting is particularly famous and enjoys widespread appreciation. There has been a lot of debate as to whether this painting falls in the Classical or Gothic category, although created in the Renaissance period which makes it most likely a renaissance art painting, the style of drawing which adopts long lines is typically Gothic. The painting shows a mature goddess Venus emerging from the water to be greeted by other mythical gods and goddesses. Zephyrus can be seen blowing wind from his mouth at the goddess. This painting is located in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

14. Café Terrace at Night

Café Terrace at Night.

Image via

This work of art by the Dutch painter is indeed a masterpiece. Just as the name implies, this painting shows a café terrace at Night. The painting captures the street and the entire scenery of the café and street at night. It is particularly astounding that a painting of this complexity was created by a painter in 1888. Interestingly the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh created this masterpiece with oil paint on canvass. From the paved cobblestone floors, buildings to dining tables, the sky ad people strolling in the far distance, this painting paints a vivid imagery of street in Night. This descriptive painting was designed to give a strong feeling of excitement and thrill. This painting earned its place at this spot and remains a fascination to many. Over the years its value has increased significantly as it is currently estimated to be about $200 million. It is housed in Yale University Art Gallery. Café Terrace at Night shows the beautiful nightlife and scenery around a café.

13. American Gothic by Grant wood

American Gothic.

Image via

While this painting is particularly impressive, the reason for its popularity and the pervasive appeal is found within the context of creating a unique American visual art identity that is different from the typical European visual art depictions. This painting shows the typical America farmer of the early 1900s standing right next to his daughter. This painting showcases the rural living of the Midwestern region. This painting was created in 1930 and seems to have a multiplicity of explanations. Some argue that this painting shows a not so happy rural couple. This interpretation is particularly fascinating because the lady seemed old enough to be the farmer’s wife. While we know for a certainty that the man was a farmer, given the scenery and the pitchfork, the identity of the lady could either be his wife or daughter. Others maintain that the stern look on their faces was reflective of the hardship brought up by the great depression. This painting sits in the Art Institute of Chicago. 

12. The Persistence of Memory by Dali

The Persistence of Memory.

Image via 

This painting by Salvador Dali earned its popularity from the fact that it was relevant to the period in which it was created. The name and essence of this art are adequately depicted by Salvador who shows melting pocket clocks in a scenery that seemed infinite, unexciting and inescapable. The melting clocks have the obvious meaning of time losing its essence or importance. This painting is a typical example of surrealism which was a formidable movement in art and literature shortly after the industrial revolution. This art form shows a mental state while depicting the persistence of Memory. Located in the museum of modern art.

11. The Kiss  by Gustav Klimt

The kiss by Gustav Klimt.

Image via

Created by Gustav Klimt, a kiss is a form of painting known as symbolism. The symbolism in this portrait is one of romance and love. This work of art is a leaf motif in which he used a gold leaf to create a stunning portrait of love. This painting was created between 1907 and 1908. When taking a look at the artist’s personal life, you will find that this work of rejuvenated is failing career. Over the years, this work of art remains appreciated for its beauty and strong symbolism of love.  

10. The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck

The Arnolfini Portrait.

Image via

Created by Jan Van Eyck, this painting’s popularity and relevance stem from the fact that was reflective of how impressive the Northern Renaissance. This painting featured a setting that is found within the context of the Italian Renaissance. The painting showed a woman who is dressed like a bride or a wealthy businessperson. While there has been a lot of controversy as to whether the woman is in fact married to the man in the picture. It seems somewhat evident that she is pregnant and the manner in which her hand was held by Arnolfini appeared as though they were married. This painting was formerly known as the Arnolfini marriage is indicative of Netherlandish Renaissance painting and currently resides in the London national museum.

9. Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Guernica by Pablo Picasso.

Image via

This mural painting adopts the use of symbolism to show the devastating and killings of war. This painting was created in response to the tragedies of the Spanish civil war which bought a lot of pain and suffering. Created by Pablo Picasso in the 1930’s, this painting was finalized in 1937. In particular, the inspiration for this painting came from the catastrophe of the Guernica bombing which was orchestrated by Spanish Nationalist and executed by Nazi Germany. This oil painting held so much relevance and enjoyed so much popularity to the extent that the Republican Spanish administration requested that the painting is displayed in the national exhibition. This painting was found within the context of war and chaise. While the painting has a very strong theme, it was largely appreciated for expressing the pain and suffering caused by the war in an artistic way. This painting is named after Guernica and utilizes cubism.   

8. Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Starry night.

Image via

This painting is one of the famous works of art ever seen and could be described as the masterpiece of Vincent Van Gogh. The very troubled artist created this painting in 1889 while sitting in his room in a mental institution. This artist had cut off his ear before realizing that he was terribly sick and decided to report himself to a mental institution. This painting features an impressive blend of colors with an interesting swirl that shows the night from a very vivid perspective. Following his huge success from this painting, he became fixated on creating more sky paintings. This painting was an oil painting in a canvass. This artwork is located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

7. Water lilies by Claude Monet

Water lilies.

Image via

When exploring French impressionism in art, this artwork stands out as a very vivid example. Created by French artist Claude Monet, this painting is, in fact, one of the popular paintings to come from France. This painting features water lilies in the artist’s house. Contrary to what people think about water lilies painting, it was, in fact, a series of painting, not just one. His painting of water lilies has been admired for its clarity and stunning representation of lilies. It is worth mentioning that this painting was inspired in 1893 when the painter purchases his home in Giverny. His fascination with plants and water lilies which were particularly abundant in his then newly acquired property. 

6. Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

Last Supper.
Image via

This religious painting dates back to the renaissance era and features a very string theme which is at the core of the Christian faith. This painting was one of the many masterpieces of the renowned Leonardo Da Vinci and was created in the 15th. This great painting has been admired for centuries and is regarded as one of the greatest painting the world has ever seen. The painting is actually much bigger than it appears in magazines and on television. It is also worth mentioning that Last super painting that is dedicated to showing the moment in which Jesus Christ revealed that one of his disciples will betray him. The most fascinating aspect of this painting is the fact that it captures the reaction of the disciples as they were all unsettled by the messiah’s claims. Interestingly, it is worth mentioning that this painting is fitted to a wall of a Convent and cannot be extracted and taken to a museum. The reason for this is because this could damage the painting.  This painting could easily be one of the greatest painting ever! Its popularity has remained throughout the generations. 

5. Night Watch by Rembrandt

Night Watch.

Image via

This magnificent painting is in fact very gigantic. It is a painting that covers 11.91 ft. in length and 14.34 ft. in breadth. Considering the aforementioned fact, it could very easily be considered as one of the largest wall paintings. In addition to the aforementioned fact, the Night Watch painting adopts a very unique technique that could be best described as brilliant. The painting is designed with the brilliant use of light and shade that depicts night while accentuating the lead characters which were Frans Banning Cocq who was clad black, with a red girdle and his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch. The rest of the infantry were shown with the light and shadow in a way that makes you know it was nighttime. Designed by Rembrandt this impressive painting features life-size people in the most captivating style imaginable. More so, this painting is one of the first to adopt the use of motion effectively. When you see this painting, your immediately realize that the characters were actually in motion. 

4. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer 

Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Image via

Created by Johannes Vermeer at the post-renaissance period, this painting is one that has received a lot of commendation and great appeal. This painting is speculated to have been created in 1665 by the Dutch artist. The popularity of this painting is so much so that an entire movie had been made with using the name and inspiration of this painting. This painting is one that captures the alluring appearance of a stunning European damsel who appears to be wearing a very attractive costume and also has very expensive clothes as well. This painting adopts a very impressive technique and is estimated to be sold for a whopping 30 million dollars. This painting follows that typical head portrait paintings that were pervasive at the time, however, the slight tilt of the entire upper frame and lustful gaze were some of the most fascinating aspects of this incredible artwork. 

3. The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

The Creation of Adam.
Image via

Created by one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance era, this painting is, in fact, a fresco painting that is part of a much larger painting known as the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel was a project that lasted for a period of four years and contained many different religious paintings. While the Sistine Chapel remains another big fresco and work of art that will be discussed later, The Creation of Adam fresco is one part of the Sistine that has engendered a lot of attention and admiration. This painting has been explained as the impartation of life into the first human. It shows the clouds opening with a strong bearded figure reaching out to touch a man on the other side. This painting is a spectacle and remains one of the most talked about artworks ever! 

2. School of Athens by Paphael

School of Athens.
Image via

Through the use of paint plaster, the school of Athens was created by the celebrated Italian renaissance artist known as Raphael. This artwork is a masterpiece that was created over a period of three years and finalized in 1511. This painting is an exciting work of art that captures many interesting sections which include Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, and Law. There had been arguments that all of the notable Greek thinkers were contained in this painting. This fresco enjoys widespread popularity as one of the most famous paintings. 

1. Mona Lisa by Leonard

Mona Lisa by Leonard.
Image via

It is almost impossible for anyone to claim that they haven’t heard or seen the painting of Mona Lisa. Although it is claimed that this painting was never completed, it is one painting that is an incredible aspect of our modern culture. It is almost impossible to discuss art without making mention of this beautiful painting. An Italian Renaissance artist known as Leonardo Da Vinci was also responsible for this stunning painting. The oil painting is undoubtedly one of the referenced work of art from the Renaissance. It is said to have been created as a portrait of a portrait of Lisa Gherardini. While this is most likely the case, this claim remains merely speculative. Mona Lisa painting has evolved into being a term to describe a beautiful woman. Celebrated as the ideal depiction of a beautiful woman, this painting sits in the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797. While this painting has not been valued recently, it is estimated that this painting it should be worth over 800 million dollars. This painting holds the incontestable position of being the most famous painting ever created in the history of mankind.