The most famous Italian artists are mostly household names from the renaissance period however their are a few stand out artists from other periods who’s work should not be ignored.
Our list of famous Italian painters and artists includes some of the most famous names with the addition of others of note.
Famous Italian Artists
1. Da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci, born in Tuscany, Italy in 1452, was a man fascinated by everything from drawing and sculpture to architecture and engineering. While he is now lauded as a pioneer in many different scientific studies, he was renowned as a painter during his lifetime.
His knowledge of human anatomy and expression lent him great skill in his paintings which were often the subject of his artistic works exemplified best in Mona Lisa, a painting that was actually left unfinished yet has become the most famous painting in the world.
As a child, da Vinci showed artistic talent and, at the age of fourteen, he began an apprenticeship under Andrea del Verrocchio and studied a broad range of subjects.
After beginning his own exhibit at Florence’s Guild of Saint Luke as a master artist, da Vinci began a long and successful career in painting. He continued painting until his left hand was paralyzed two years before he died in 1519.
Michelangelo Buonarotti was born in 1475 Florence, Italy. With an early interest in painting, he began an apprenticeship with Domenico Ghirlandaio at the age of thirteen but left after one year due to his aptitude and quick learning.
Before turning thirty, he had completed his two most famous sculptures, David and Pieta, and established himself as a masterful sculptor. A few years after completing David, he began painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, an endeavor that would last for four years.
Both he and da Vinci are widely known to be two of the most famous artists to have ever lived.
Towards the end of his life, Michelangelo took up architecture in order to avoid physical labor until he died in 1564.
Michelangelo devoted his artistic expressions to the human figure. He would dissect cadavers in his free time in order to study human anatomy with his most famous works, David and his fresco in the Sistine Chapel, displaying his masterful understanding of the human figure.
Raphael Sanzio was born in 1483 in Urbino, Italy the son of a painter. Learning from his father, he took up painting, and, after his father’s death when he was only eleven, he took over his father’s workshop where his success quickly surpassed his father’s.
At seventeen, he began an apprenticeship under Pietro Vannunci in Perugia, Italy where he developed his style of painting over four years. After leaving his apprenticeship, he created a series of Madonnas as an extrapolation to Leonardo de Vinci’s.
Raphael’s subject matter for paintings were usually religious subjects. His most notable works, the Madonnas, Transfiguration, and a portrait of Pope Julius II, reflected this focus.
Additionally, in 1514, the Pope hired him as chief architect where he designed rooms, buildings, and palaces. He continued to work as both a painter and architect until his untimely death in 1520 at just thirty-seven years old.
Giotto di Bondone is cited as one of the first renaissance artists and was a pivotal individual in the deviation from the byzantine style of art. Instead, he preferred to paint life in actuality, incorporating three dimensional forms and depicting accurate human emotions.
Most of Giotto’s life is surrounded in speculation due to lack of accurate records. He was born around 1266 in Florence, Italy.
As a child, he showed a shocking talent for painting with no formal training and was discovered by Giorgio Vasari who sent him to Cimabue, an Italian painter at the time, to apprentice under.
Very few pieces are certain to be painted by him, though many are rumored to be, with the Frescoes in Scrovegni Chapel, completed in 1305, being the most prominent of his works. He was said to have died in 1337 and buried in the Cathedral of Florence.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born in Milan in 1571. At the age of thirteen, he began an apprenticeship with Simone Peterzano.
A few years after completing his apprenticeship, he had an altercation with an officer that resulted in him fleeing to Rome in order to avoid the charges, a pattern that would follow him throughout his life.
In Rome, he quickly rose to prominence until he was forced to flee again after killing a man, traveling to Naples, Malta, and Sicily each time for similar reasons. Eventually, he died in 1610 due to complications from a wound he received in another altercation.
Despite his combative personality, Caravaggio’s paintings were largely lauded and he was always commissioned for work at each place he fled to.
His unique style was known for its realism and use of drastic contrast which would later influence the style of baroque painting.
Amedeo Modigliani was an underrated Italian Jewish painter and sculptor, achieving very little success during his life. With his art usually focused on portraits and nudes, his pieces’ defining features are dramatic elongations of the face, necks and figures.
Born in 1884 Livorno, Italy, Modigliani claimed to be a painter from an early age, even before receiving formal training. After promising to take him after he recovered from typhoid, Modigliani’s mother took him to Florence where she ended up enrolling him with the best painting master in Lavorno: Guglielmo Micheli.
After contracting tuberculosis, he left this apprenticeship and moved to Paris. There, he abandoned his gentleman-like appearance in favor of an impoverished lifestyle, possibly due to his addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Despite this, he continued to create sculptures and paintings at a startling pace until he succumbed to a recurrence of tuberculosis, dying destitute and alone in 1920.
Giorgio Morandi was an Italian painter and print-maker that focused on still-life’s. Most of his still-life’s depicted very simple subjects, such as bottles and vases, with an emphasis on subtlety, establishing himself as a leading individual in minimalism.
Born in 1890 Bologna, Italy, Morandi entered the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna when he was seventeen years old. There, he taught himself how to sketch from books on Rembrandt.
Throughout his life, his artistic style slowly became distilled down to subtle gradations of tone and hue with the compositional elements becoming more reduced.
In 1929 he received his first of many awards for an illustration he did titled II Sole a Picco. Eventually Morandi died of lung cancer in 1964, leaving behind a legacy that is one of the few of his time to escape the tarnish of Fascism.
Titian, born in 1488 as Tiziano Vicelli, was known as the greatest painter of his time. Though the subjects of his paintings varied from religious and mythological scenes in his early years to portraits towards the end of his life, he is most noted for his vivid and luminous color usage.
Along with Giorgione, he is credited as the founder of the Venetian school of Italian renaissance painting.
Along with his brother, Titian was sent at the age of ten years old to Venice in order to apprentice a painter. Eventually he apprenticed Giovani Bellini who was known as the greatest painter of the time.
Showing incredible skill as an apprentice, he gained success early on and enjoyed a long and successful career, succeeding Bellini as the master of Venetian painting after his master’s death until his own death in 1576 due to the bubonic plague.
Born in 1445 Florence, Italy as Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, Sandro Botticelli was sent by his father to apprentice as a goldsmith.
After showing promise as an artist, he began an apprenticeship with Fra Filippo and was taught to paint frescoes. After the apprenticeship, he was commissioned by churches until he received patronage from some of Florence’s leading families, including Medici.
Having earned notoriety from an early age as an apprentice, he was eventually invited by the Pope to paint the Sistine Chapel walls.
Unfortunately, the later years of his life, until he died in 1510, were plagued with poverty and isolation after the loss of Medici’s patronage.
Most of Botticelli’s paintings were of religious subjects. However, his most famous renaissance paintings, Primavera and The Birth of Venus, focus on mythological subjects and are some of the most famous paintings in the world.
Giorgione Barbarelli da Castelfranco, known as Giorgione, was born in the Republic of Venice in 1477.
During his youth, he apprenticed under Giovanni Bellini in Venice whom Titian was also studying under at the time. After his apprenticeship, Giorgione was recognized early on and quickly rose in prominence as a master.
Despite a rapidly successful career, Giorgione’s life was cut short after he contracted the bubonic plague and died somewhere in his early thirties.
Unfortunately, only six pieces of his remain today, leaving much of his body of work up to speculation and rumors.
One notable characteristic of his style was that some of his painted pictures told no story at all. He is also credited as being the first to have the stark intensity of color that is at the core within the Venetian school of art.
The most famous renaissance artists are responsible for some of the greatest works of art ever produced.
The renaissance spanned a 300 year period which revolutionized art, medicine and architecture.
The introduction of linear perspective and the rejection of symbolism to new forms of expression and humanism changed the art world forever.
Our list of famous renaissance artists below covers both early renaissance period and the high renaissance.
Famous Renaissance Artists
1. Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was born out of wedlock in a farmhouse in 1452 Tuscany, Italy. With a short time in formal education, da Vinci displayed great artistic skill.
By the time he was twelve, he started an apprenticeship where he learned many different subjects from metalworking to sculpting.
Da Vinci’s unique talent was in depicting human expressions which gave him great notoriety from an early age. In 1478 he began receiving independent commissions but abandoned them after offering his services to the Duke of Milan where he painted many works such as The Last Supper.
After the Duke was overthrown, da Vinci fled to Venice and drew maps for the military, but eventually returned to Florence where he began working on Mona Lisa which would become the most famous artworks in the word.
He continued his artistic ventures into his later years where he turned to more scientific endeavors until his death in 1519.
While he is known to be an artistic genius in painting, architecture, and poetry, Michelangelo Buonarotti thought of himself as a sculptor, dabbling in other art forms but always maintaining sculpting as a constant throughout his life.
Much of Michelangelo’s artistic subjects focused on humans and religion. The Sistine Chapel, his Madonna sculptures, and David are all religious works that he commissioned.
Even as a child, he showed prodigious artistic talent during his apprenticeship with Domenico Ghirlandaio, and, at just fourteen, Ghirlandaio began paying Michelangelo as an artist.
After working for Lorenzo de’ Medici, ruler of Florence, in the Humanist Academy, he left Florence and completed Pieta. Shortly after returning to Florence, he completed David as well, solidifying himself as a prominent sculptor despite his age.
In 1508, Michelangelo was invited to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, another of his crowning achievements which took four years to complete.
Raphael Sanzio was a prolific painter and architect. Despite a mysterious and sudden death at the age of thirty-seven, he left behind a vast body of work, most likely due to the unusually large workshop that he operated where he supervised fifty pupils.
Most of this work was religious in subject and commissioned by the pope and catholic church.
The son of a painter, Raphael took over his father’s workshop after his death at the age of just eleven. After having great success with the workshop, Raphael pursued an apprenticeship with Pietro Vannunci for four years until he returned to Florence where he painted his famous series of Madonnas.
Eventually he moved to Rome where he was hired by the Pope as chief architect to build palaces for the church. Raphael continued to work until his death, leaving some of his works such as The Transfiguration unfinished.
Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi, or Donatello, was born in 1386 Florence, Italy. After receiving training from a goldsmith’s workshop, he began an apprenticeship with Lorenzo Ghiberti for metalwork and sculpture. Later, Ghiberti and Donatello were commissioned to create bronze doors for the Florence Cathedral.
In 1443 he was commissioned to create an equestrian monument in Padua, a task that had not been undertaken since ancient times. This led to further monuments in the following centuries throughout Europe.
He continued to sculpt until his death at seventy-nine years old in 1466, leaving behind an unfinished piece completed by one of his pupils.
Donatello was an innovative sculptor for his time. His most famous piece, David, was the first known free-standing statue since antiquity.
Using linear perspective in the Gothic style, he created lifelike and highly emotional sculptures that displayed accurate depictions of sorrow and suffering.
5. Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer was a renaissance painter, print-maker, and theorist born in Nuremberg within the Holy Roman Empire in 1471. While his father wanted him to become a goldsmith, Dürer’s aptitude for drawing convinced him to pursue the arts.
At the age of fifteen, he began an apprenticeship with Michael Wolgemut, whose workshop created woodcut illustrations. Over the years, Dürer improved the wood-prints to a level of artistic sophistication that earned him a reputation in his twenties and revolutionized what was conceived as possible with wood printing.
Much of the pieces Dürer completed were focused on religious subjects, although he also created many portraits. While he is mostly known for wood printing, he was also a respected watercolor landscape artist.
His artistic expression did not stop at visual mediums, however. He also wrote four books on the theory of human proportion that were published after he died in 1528.
Sandro Botticelli, born in 1445 Florence, was one of the most esteemed Italian painters of his time. Many of his pieces were focused on religious subjects, though some of his most famous paintings are on mythological scenes.
After apprenticing a goldsmith as a child, Botticelli began an apprenticeship with Fra Filippo where he learned to paint frescoes. As an adult, he began painting for churches, and, due to Filippo’s contacts, he had the patronage of Florence’s leading families.
Having earned a high reputation at the time, he was invited by the pope to paint frescoes on the walls of the Sistine Chapel which was the only time he worked outside Florence.
After the fall of Medici, one of Botticelli’s primary patrons, in his later years, Botticelli had a swift decline where he fell into isolation and mental anguish until his death in 1510.
Tiziano Vicelli, also known as Titian, was the founder of the Venetian school of renaissance painting. Born around 1488, Titian was sent with his brother to Venice at around ten years old to find and apprentice a painter. After a stint with another painter, he apprenticed the greatest painter of the time: Giovani Bellini.
With his master, Titian was commissioned early on by the state to paint frescoes, beginning his professional painting career.
After Bellini’s death, he was considered the master of Venetian painting for sixty years. He continued to paint until he died from the bubonic plague in 1576.
The subject of Titian’s paintings changed throughout his life, from religious and mythological scenes to portraits towards the end of his life. Though the subjects varied, he always maintained a unique use of vibrant colors in his paintings as exemplified in Danae, a painting in his “poesie” series.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a talented and troubled renaissance painter. Born in 1571 Milan, he began an apprenticeship with Simone Peterzano at thirteen years old. Shortly after his apprenticeship, he fled to Rome to avoid the aftermath of a fight with an officer.
There, he gained notoriety for his unique style of painting. Caravaggio was known for his realism and use of light and dark contrast, a technique that would influence baroque painting. Not wanting to hide the flaws of the individual, his paintings were sometimes criticized as vulgar.
After killing a man, Caravaggio fled to Naples in 1606 where, due to his combative nature, he again had to flee to Malta, Sicily, and then back to Naples.
At all of the places he went, he was commissioned and always received great praise. Eventually he died of sepsis in 1610 from a wound he received while fighting.
Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, was born in 1518 Venice to the son of a dyer, from which he derived his name. His only apprenticeship was with Titian which only lasted a few days before he was kicked out due to unknown reasons.
From then on, he studied on his own using Michelangelo’s drawing and Titian’s color as inspiration. Eventually Tintoretto rose to prominence in the 1540’s and was often commissioned by the church to do religious scenes for much of his work.
After Titian’s death, he became one of the most famous painters in Venice until his own death in 1594 due to a sudden illness.
Tintoretto employed narrative drama and a staunch use of perspective in his paintings. His most notable work, Paradise, stood seventy-four by thirty feet wide and was the largest canvas painting to ever be completed.
10. Paolo Veronese
Paolo Veronese, also known as Paolo Caliari, was born in 1528 Verona from which he took his name. He studied under two masters, apprenticing Antonio Badile in 1541 and Giovanni Caroto in 1544.
He rose in prominence after working on frescoes for the Villa Soranzo and then moved to Venice in 1553 after being commissioned by the state.
During his life, he ran a large workshop that was primarily comprised of family members and was carried on by them after his death in 1588.
Veronese often completed large religious and mythological history paintings for his patrons and was particularly fond of feast scenes. His work is characterized by dramatic and colorful styling despite being trained in mannerism.
His work has earned him, according to modern critics, a spot alongside Titian and Tintoretto as one of the trio that dominated Venetian painting in the Cinquecento.
Manet vs Monet two artists that are constantly mistaken for each other and is it any wonder with such similar names?
French art is steeped in history and there are numerous artists who have made their marks over the years. Two of the most well-known artists are Claude Monet and Edouard Manet.
While their names are instantly recognizable among anyone who is remotely familiar with art, their names are also easy to confuse.
A simple swapping of the vowels in the name can reduce two of the most famous artists into a confusing mess.
For these reasons, it is important for everyone to note some of the most important differences when comparing Edouard Manet versus Claude Monet so that each artist is well-respected in his own right.
Manet vs Monet
Many people confuse Edouard Manet and Claude Monet because their names are so similar; however, there are a few ways to tell their works apart in addition to a single vowel in the last name.
Edouard Manet was both an impressionist and a realist. In contrast, Claude Monet was strictly an impressionist. As a result, there are several ways that people can tell their works apart. Some of the most prominent ways include:
Studio vs. Outdoor Work: One of the first differences between Edouard Manet and Claude Monet that people will note is where their work is completed. Edouard Manet primarily worked in a studio. There, he meticulously orchestrated many of his paintings. It was not unusual for him to scrape off paint just to redo it. He slaved in his studio for hours until he got his pieces just the way he wanted them. In contrast, Claude Monet tended to work outside. He was a true impressionist and wanted to depart the four walls of his studio to paint in the open air. Much of his work has actually been called En Plein Air Painting.
People vs. Landscapes: Another way that Edouard Manet and Claude Monet differed is in terms of their subject matter. For example, the work of Edouard Manet almost always features people. His work is known for abrupt contrasts of shadow and light along with harsh contours. It is this strict style that helps him carve out his subjects on his pieces. In contrast, Claude Monet tended to paint a lot of landscape works. He loved to paint seascapes and landscapes. He would allow his brief strokes of paint to dissolve solid forms into something unique that was filled with numerous colors and flashes of light. In this manner, the works of Edouard Manet and Claude Monet differ.
Brush Strokes and Color: Finally, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet differ in how they use brush strokes and color. Edouard Manet tends to use long brush strokes that have similar colors in different shades. He would vary the amount of white he would use in his work to suggest ripples in his work. In contrast, Claude Monet tended to use “messier” brush strokes. He was a master of color and light, so many of his works would capture the same subject repeatedly; however, he would simply use different lighting to bring out different features. A seascape would use not only blue but also pink, yellow, and orange.
These are just a few of the many ways that people can tell apart the works of Edouard Manet and Claude Monet. Both artists were, and still are, prolific in their own right; however, in order to truly appreciate everything these two artists bring to the table, it is important to be able to tell their works apart.
An Overview of Edouard Manet
First, let’s take a closer look at Edouard Manet. Edouard Manet is a French artist who was born in 1832 and died in 1883. In the eyes of many, he is the father of modern art.
This is because he was able to break dramatically from strong academic traditions. He was known for breaking from conventional painting categories to create real-world art.
Prior to Edouard Manet, many of the world’s best paintings could fit into either still-life work, portraits, landscape pieces, of historical pieces.
In this manner, Edouard Manet was not as interested in minute details and wanted to focus on his own inherent materials and visual qualities that came along with his work.
Even though he died at age 51 and did not produce a massive number of paintings, he is one of the most famous artists of all time. He is closely associated with some of the biggest art movements of all time including abstraction and Impressionism.
Many of the works of Edouard Manet are on display at the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Musee d’Orsay (Paris) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City).
An Overview of Claude Monet
Now, let’s take a closer look at Claude Monet. He is also French; however, was born slightly after his counterpart, Manet. Claude Monet was born in 1840 and was an impressionist. In many ways, he was inspired by the work of Manet.
Claude Monet is known as a master of color, able to capture it over and over again. He could paint the same subject repeatedly and come up with a completely different work every time.
His goal is to communicate every nuance of light as he saw it. Many of the most famous works of Claude Monet come from series that he painted in the last thirty years of his life. As a result, he is more prolific (in terms of his number of pieces) than Manet.
There are simply more works by Claude Monet than there are Manet pieces, so it is more likely for someone to run into a Monet at a museum somewhere.
Interestingly many often confuse Monet and Van Gogh even though their art is quite different.
The Impressionism Movement Through the Eyes of Manet and Monet
The 19thcentury was a revolutionary time in the world of art. It started in the 19thcentury and was able to elevate many of the works of Edouard Manet to a new plane.
At that time, artists were trying to capture the fleeting moments that took place in the modern world (at that time). As a result, many artists took their works from the studio to dance centers, cafes, and nature in an effort to capture everything they could.
Impressionism has become a word that is synonymous with both of these famous French artists.
Now, when people talk about impressionism, those in the art community usually refer to Edouard Manet and Claude Monet differently.
Edouard Manet was a major influence on the impressionist movement. In many ways, some consider Edouard Manet to be the father of impressionism.
In this manner, Edouard Manet is usually referred to as someone who broke with tradition; however, the works of Edouard Manet are known for their tension.
They show many of the flavors of impressionism without adhering to what most people know as impressionism today.
In contrast, Monet came along several years later. Much of his work is what people consider to be impressionist in the modern use of the term.
Many of the paintings of Claude Monet exhibited some of the marquee styles of impressionism. These included open composition, a unique depiction of light, and visible brush strokes.
Often, Claude Monet would use his art to accentuate the passage of time, turning ordinary subject matter into something different. These are some of the hallmarks of impressionism paintings. The term actually comes from a Monet work that is titled “Impression, Sunrise.”
Impressionism is one of the most famous movements in the world of art. Both of these artists played a major role. Some of the other famous impressionist artists include Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, Berthe Morisot, and Pierre Renoir.
Many of these artists actually exhibited their works together. In contrast, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet actually never exhibited their artwork in the same place.
The Most Important Works of Edouard Manet and Claude Monet
It is important for everyone to note some of the most famous works of Edouard Manet and Claude Monet. They include:
Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe, Edouard Manet: Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe is arguably the most famous work painted by Manet. It was originally titled Le Bain. This is a large oil canvas painting that Edouard Manet completed during 1862 and 1863. This painting depicts a nude female along with a scantily dressed female bather who are both enjoying a picnic together. There are two fully dressed men nearby. The painting takes place in a rural setting and sparked both notoriety and controversy. Now, the work is on display at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet: Arguably the most famous work by Claude Monet, Impression, Sunrise was first displayed in 1874 at a convention that would come to be known as the “Exhibition of the Impressionists.” This work is important because it is credited with inspiring the rest of the impressionist movement. The work features an open lake with a few faded boats underneath a gorgeous sunrise that features contrasting colors to truly capture the entire scene. The work depicts a sunrise in the hometown of Claude Monet, Le Havre. The painting is now on display at the Musee Marmottan in Paris.
Without a doubt, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet are some of the most famous artists of all time. Their works are on display all over the world.
While their names are similar, they did use very different painting styles. It is important for everyone to be able to tell these two famous artists apart in order to appreciate everything they accomplished during their careers. Their work continues to influence artists to this day.
The discussion of Monet vs Van Gogh often comes up and for a lot of people the difference between the two artists is not always apparent.
Van Gogh can be considered a post-impressionist artists whereas Monet is one of the founding members of the impressionism movement.
Both artists made extensive use of light and it’s effects on the color of their subject matter and the spaces and objects contained within.
Claude Monet was known for more realistic use of color tone in his works while Vincent Van Gogh is better known for far more bold and striking color choices.
This in essence is one of the marked differences between the impressionist and post-impressionists.
Impressionism uses color to represent an impression of a landscape and the effects of light on it, whereas the post-impressionists used color to convey emotion.
Monet vs Van Gogh
The main differences between Monet vs Van Gogh is that Monet is strictly an impressionist, Van Gogh however is a post-impressionist artist.
Van Gogh’s early style of painting was was based on a more muted Dutch inspired palette and was in striking contrast to his later works where bold colors were used as a expression of emotion.
Claude Monet’s style is resolutely focused on how light affects and interacts on landscapes and the objects contained in them with large masses of color and mostly devoid of any straight lines of the use of pure black pigment.
Throughout his career Monet’s artworks would continue to focus on light and color and almost all of his works are in that hazy impressionist style that his name is so strongly connected to.
Vincent Van Gogh was mostly unaware of impressionism before he spent a couple of years in Paris in and around 1886.
And his earlier work was more realistic in nature, the impressionists rejection of the status quo had a marked affect on Van Gogh and his style changed immeasurably following his two year stink in Paris.
He would later reject pure impressionism and his work evolved into Post-Impressionism were the aim was not to capture the effects of light but to use color as a vehicle to express emotion.
He also painted a considerable amount of portraits and self portraits whereas Monet mostly focused on landscapes and en plein air painting.
In terms of their career Van Gogh started to paint when he was roughly 21 years old while Monet had been painting from a very early age.
Impressionism is perhaps one of the most significant movements in modern art history. It was the birth of light in painting. Impressionism reached France around the middle of the nineteenth century and Claude Monet was one of the revolutionary pioneers of this movement.
A life overshadowed by depression, poverty and sickness brought forth some of the greatest masterpieces of Impressionism.
Claude’s work has inspired the lovers of art to move ahead of the subject matter and realize sensations of nature. They are mostly about capturing beauty in a fleeting moment!
Claude Monet Biography
Claude Monet, one of the leading figures in Impressionism, was born on November 14, 1840, in Paris, France. Monet’s father was a grocer at first, but he later took over the family’s shipping and grocery business.
Thus, the family had to move to Normandy coast when Monet was merely 5 years old. It was this time of Monet’s life that led him on a journey of revolutionary artwork.
He spent his childhood along the beaches where he would observe the rapidly changing weather of Normandy. It seems this is how he gained a new perception of nature and the effect of light on it.
Despite being considerably good at studies, Monet repelled the idea of being confined to a classroom. He preferred to be outside and drawing seemed to come naturally to him. He would sketch people, including his teachers, in his schoolbooks.
Monet’s mother supported his art skills while his father disapproved of them. With his mother’s death in 1857 and his father’s aversion to his work, Monet suffered a great deal in the pursuing years.
Claude Monet’s first breakthrough came in when he was 15 years old. He would make caricatures of many of the town’s residents that would be sold for a decent price.
Soon, Monet met a local landscape artist, Eugene Boudin, who aroused in him the interest of ‘plein air painting’ or outdoor painting. This interest later on became the dominating subject matter of Monet’s artwork.
In 1859, Monet moved to Paris and enrolled himself as a student at the Academie Suisse. Monet had to discontinue his informal training at Academie Suisse for his military service from 1861 to 1862.
His early discharge from service is known to be due to health reasons. So, after returning to Paris, he resumed studying art under Charles Gleyre.
Two of Monet’s paintings were accepted by the Salon in 1865, an annual art show in Paris. The next year, two more paintings were selected for the Salon.
One of these paintings was a landscape while the other one was a portrait of Camille, also called Woman in Green. Camille Doncieux was Monet’s beloved who came from a humble background.
Around the birth of their first child in 1867, Monet faced great hardships due to a financial crisis. With his father’s refusal to lend any help, Monet became increasingly dejected of his situation.
His hopelessness aggravated so much that it drove him over the edge, leading to him attempting to commit suicide in 1868 by drowning himself in the Seine River.
The following year, things started to get better when Louis-Joachim Guadibert became a patron of his artwork.
Monet and Camille married in 1870, but soon due to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, they had to move to England. Consequently, Paul Durand-Ruel became his first art dealer in England.
Upon his return to France in 1872, he met many great artists that left a considerable impression on his work. After Camille’s death, Monet remarried Alice in 1892.
Monet would often get frustrated with his circumstances and work. He is known to have destroyed various of his paintings. Some records suggest the number is as high as 500 works.
Due to his bouts of depression, Monet would burn, cut or kick his work in frequent outbursts.
One of Monet’s works “Impression, Sunrise” was displayed in the society’s exhibition in 1874. It was a depiction of Le Havre’s harbor in morning fog. Critics of this new style of painting mocked such artists by calling them “Impressionists”. They went on to say that their work appeared more like sketches than complete paintings.
Although the remarks were intended to be disparaging, surprisingly the term sat so well to describe this form of art. Monet, like his fellow impressionist painters, seemed to distance himself from classical art.
The type of work that Monet produced came as a result of use of bold vibrant colors with short brushstrokes. Monet first exhibited his work with the Impressionists in 1874 and went on doing it until the 1880s.
Most of Monet’s work comprises of landscapes, structures and other scenes in different lights. He would depict several scenes and structures in dawn, noon, gray weather etc. He was immensely fascinated by the effects of light on things.
Some of the most famous pieces of artwork by Claude Monet are:
Women in the Garden (1866-67)
Westminster Bridge (1871)
Boulevard des Capucines (1873)
Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son
Subject Matter of Monet’s Work
“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.”
― Claude Monet
As expressed by Monet himself, his work was more about the surrounding atmosphere than any subject in particular. We can find domestic scenes depicting his wife, son and garden in some of his works.
Yet the aim of Monet’s work was not to paint modern life. With his paintings, Monet wanted to implement his radical view of nature. So, it is safe to say that the dominating subject matter of Monet’s work was the light of an object in a painting.
Monet can be regarded as the quintessential impressionist, yet often people confuse him with another
Monet fell prey to different diseases in his lifetime, including cataracts, which almost left him blind in both eyes. He went through surgery in 1923 for the ailment. However, diseases were not the only misery that lay heavy on Monet’s spirits. He had to constantly power through depression all through his life.
Monet expressed this suffering to one of his friends by writing him the following words:
“Age and chagrin have worn me out. My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that’s left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear.”
At the age of 86, Claude Monet died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926. Despite living a difficult life, Monet found an extraordinary way to create inspiration in his moments of despair.
He transformed the world of painting by blurring the line between reality and art. His vision opened doors to the world of imagination and creativity for the lovers of art.
Initially the famous impressionist artists in this list were strongly rejected by the art critics of the day.
Impressionism was a massive departure from the more traditional realistic works of the day.
More and more everyday scenes and people became their subject matter as opposed to the more conventional paintings and portraits of upper class patrons.
The style was exemplified by brighter colors and a very little black used by the artists, different changes in color and tone gave form and structure to individual objects rather than distinct lines.
Below you will find a list of the most famous impressionist artists and their lives.
Famous Impressionist Artists
1. Claude Monet
Claude Monet, born in 1840 Paris, was an ambitious french painter and often regarded as one of the most important founders of impressionism. In fact, the term impressionism was coined from one of his most famous paintings Impression, Sunrise.
During his youth, he became locally known for his charcoal caricatures, but it wasn’t until Eugene Boudin became his mentor that he learned oil painting and outdoor techniques.
After traveling for many years throughout his childhood, Monet eventually returned to Paris. During this time, he met many fellow eventual impressionist painters such as Édouard Manet whom he befriended.
While in Paris, he was drafted for the military, but his aunt was able to get him released from the army with the condition that he complete a course at an art school. After many years of hardship and success, Monet died from lung cancer at 86, requesting a small and intimate funeral.
His most famous early work was The Woman in the Green Dress, painted after his wife, Camille Doncieux, whom he often used as a model.
Édouard Manet was pivotal in the shift from realism to impressionism. While always revering realism, his controversial and bold impressionist works drew great criticism and admiration among artists of his time.
Born in 1832 to a wealthy family in Paris, he aspired to become an artist from an early age, and, with encouragement from his uncle, he was mentored by Thomas Couture.
To further educate himself, he traveled to Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands which heavily impacted his style and artistic concept.
At first, Manet painted contemporary themes, but later moved on to historical and religious depictions.
His first painting that received recognition was The Spanish Singer. It was featured in the Paris exhibit known as The Salon where it was criticized as “slapdash”, but later his bold choices in subjects earned him greater controversies and notoriety.
His works like The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia depicted naked women and received heavy backlash for being immoral and vulgar by many of his conservative contemporaries.
Most of his later works were still-life’s and drew little criticism, although his last painting, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, depicts a scene in a nightclub of the same name and has stirred conversation for over one-hundred years.
3. Egdar Degas
Although Edgar Degas is now known as a French impressionist, he rejected the term and instead thought of himself as a realist.
Born in Paris in 1834 to a wealthy family, Degas was an ambitious artist from a young age. Although he suffered from failing eyesight all his life, he pursued a career in history painting with years of rigorous training.
By the time he was eighteen he had converted an entire room in his house into a personal studio. After years of historic works, he shifted his focus in his thirties to contemporary subjects where he earned great praise for his works.
Much of his contemporary works depicted ballerinas and dance scenes, the most notable being The Dance Class and Musicians in the Orchestra, although he was also partial to horse racing and jockeys.
His paintings were particularly lauded for their depth of psychological complexity in portraying human isolation, a subject he had much experience in.
Degas believed a painter could not have a personal life and isolated himself from the outside world. Eventually his friends abandoned him and, due to his failing eyesight, spent the last years of his life wandering the streets practically blind.
4. Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in 1841 to a poor family in Limoges, France but later moved to Paris near the Louvre. He embraced a brighter palette, focusing on intimate and candid subjects.
Aside from portraits, he often painted the female nude body, but, in his later years, turned to domestic and rural scenes.
As a teenager, Renoir started an apprenticeship to a porcelain painter while studying drawing at a free art school. In 1864, The Paris Salon first accepted his work La Esmerelda.
After another piece was accepted at The Salon, he had enough recognition to commission portraits for individuals in order to help support himself. Oftentimes, in order to remain financially stable, he would depend on family, friends, and patrons to help support him.
In 1870 Renoir was drafted into the army, but, thanks to him contracting dysentery, he never saw battle. After the war, he returned to Paris and continued painting, eventually gaining much notoriety for portraits he did.
Unfortunately, in his later years he developed rheumatism which disfigured his hands and made painting difficult for him. He continued to paint with a brush strapped to his fingers until his death in 1919.
5. Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro was born on the island of St. Thomas in 1830. At the age of twelve, he was sent to boarding school near Paris where he was encouraged to draw and paint. When he returned, he worked at his father’s business, working on his art in his free time, always of nature scenes.
Later, he moved to Venezuela where he found inspiration from its landscapes and villages. Eventually he moved to Paris but only lasted a year before moving to the French countryside.
During the war, he fled to London, only to return and find many of his works destroyed by soldiers. Once back, he continued to paint, developing and abandoning neo-impressionism throughout his adulthood.
Pissarro found the only things worth painting were village life and landscapes. Instead of glorifying the scenes he painted, he preferred to objectively chronicle.
Towards the end of his life, Pissarro developed an eye infection that made him unable to paint outside unless it was warm. Instead, he continued to paint from hotel room windows that were high enough to see a broad view of the landscape out the window until he died in 1903.
6. Mary Cassatt
Mary Cassatt was a life-long equal rights advocate, resenting the exclusion of women in the arts. Most of her work focused on the social and private lives of women, particularly of mothers with their children.
Cassatt was born in Pennsylvania in 1844 to a well-to-do family. She traveled extensively during her childhood, leading to her exposure to drawing while abroad.
At the age of fifteen, she enrolled at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and studied painting, to her father’s dismay. In her adult life, she moved to France and, due to females not yet welcome in most areas of artistic professions, she studied privately as a copyist.
Once the war in France started, Cassatt returned to the United States and lived with her family where her father refused to assist in her aspirations.
After the war, she returned to France and had one of her works accepted into The Paris Salon shortly after.
After some professional success, she experienced a slump in her career when she was then invited to join the Impressionists in their exhibit. It brought her much more success which she enjoyed for the remainder of her life.
7. Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley was born to an affluent Breton family in Paris, France in 1839. After dropping out of business school in London, he pursued art school. There, he met Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir and would paint with them outside.
Due to the unwelcome novel style of his work, the paintings he did rarely sold and were not displayed for a long time in The Paris Salon. It wasn’t until 1868 that his first piece was accepted by The Salon, and he did not receive wide success or financial stability from it.
During the war in France, Sisley’s father’s business failed and his family lost all their money, requiring Sisley to depend on his artwork sales for sustenance.
Unfortunately, his paintings did not significantly rise in financial value until after his death and he experienced poverty until he died of throat cancer in 1899.
Throughout his life, Sisley was a strict adherent to painting his works outside. Almost exclusively he painted landscapes, more than any other impressionist painter, with the occasional deviation to figure painting.
This collections of famous impressionist artists and painters although not exhaustive covers the main protagonists in the movement.
Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883) was a French modernist painter and has been widely credited for paving the way from realism to the impressionism movement.
Many famous impressionist artists owe a debt of gratitude to Manet as his earlier work would inspire them to break free from traditional forms of art and the types of subject matter that was deemed appropriate up until that point.
The history of modern art is also the history of the progressive loss of art’s audience. Art has increasingly become the concern of the artist and the bafflement of the public.
The Post-Impressionist artist, Paul Gauguin’s words couldn’t stand truer throughout the history of art. Especially during the 18th and 19th century, many artists breathed new life into art through innovation and experimentation.
One among them who took the most backlash due to his revolutionary ideas in art was Edouard Manet. The French artist remained unwavering in his resolve to show the world that innovation can be unwelcoming, but it is the only way to progress and evolve.
Let’s dig deeper into the mediums and techniques used by Manet to depict emotion and soul through his artwork!
The French artist Edouard Manet was born into an affluent family of Paris, on the 23rd of January, 1832. He was one of the most controversial artists of his time who defied traditional techniques and altered the conventional elements of art.
Edouard Manet’s mother was the daughter of a diplomat and goddaughter of the Swedish crown prince, Charles Bernadotte. His father, Auguste Manet, was the chief of personnel at the Ministry of Justice, and Eugénie-Désirée Fournier.
Manet first started studying French and the classics at Canon Poiloup’s school in Vaugirard. Later, he went on to study at the Collège Rollin as a boarder. From the start, Manet showed little interest in studies and did poorly in all other subjects except the special drawing course.
Manet’s father longed to see him studying at a law school. But, despite his best efforts, he could not talk him into pursuing it as a career. On the other hand, his parents could not be persuaded either to let him become a painter.
So, amid these conflicting desires, he applied to the naval college and ended up failing the entrance examination. In 1848, he went on to become an apprentice pilot on a transport vessel.
He then failed the naval examination yet again, which finally led his parents to give in to their son’s desire to become a painter.
In 1850, Manet joined a classical painter, Thomas Couture, at his studio where he learned a great deal about drawing and pictorial techniques.
After six years of valuable learning, Manet set up a studio that he shared with Albert de Balleroy. Over the years, he created many works worthy of appreciation and recognition.
Despite the criticism that kept raining upon him throughout his career, his efforts in modern arts brought a transition from realism to impressionism.
The history of art, today, marks his experimentation and innovation as the underlying factors that brought him to the pinnacle of his success.
Manet’s work from his early years of career show his inspiration of a realist artist, Gustave Courbet. During this time, his work mostly stuck to contemporary themes and everyday life subjects.
These works depict scenes of bullfights, pavement cafes, beggars, singers and gypsies. You will also notice that he used rather loose brush strokes and the details abide by the traditional themes and standards.
After this phase, next comes the time period when his work progressed from simpler themes to historical and religious ones. He worked on various paintings of the suffering Christ.
Two of these works were also displayed at two famous art museums in the USA. Another two works were displayed at the Salon, which was a major accomplishment for an artist at the time. After his early works, we hardly find other paintings on the subjects of religion, mythology and history.
Manet also painted an image of his parents that was displayed at the Salon as well. However, this piece gained little recognition as compared to The Spanish Singer painting, which was also featured at the Salon.
Manet’s paintings at the Salon stood out among other artists’ works due to their unusual and less detailed appearance. Despite the difference from the traditional style of painting, his work became a subject of intrigue and inspiration among young artists.
It is safe to say that his distinct style of painting gave way to innovation for the birth of modern arts.
When comparing Manet vs Monet it is Monet who is the strict impressionist painter and Manet’s works are a mix of styles.
In 1863, one of his works was rejected by the Salon due to his revolutionary techniques used in the painting. Manet exhibited it at the Salon des Refusés, instead.
This painting, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, brought him a good share of criticism and disapproval far and wide. Unfortunately, this criticism chased him and his unique work throughout his career.
People were largely offended by the female nudity in his paintings in the presence of clothed young men. Rather than viewing the allegorical perspective of his works, people found the nudity to be vulgar and even threatening.
Some of the critics also disapprove of the the work due to the depiction of figures in a harsh light and in a woodland setting. They felt that the depiction was unusually unrealistic and indecent.
Another one of his works, Olympia, caused a scandal in which a nude female gazes boldly and brazenly at the viewer. Dismayed by so much criticism, Manet left for Spain in 1865. However, his aversion to Spanish food and a total lack of the language soon brought him back.
Despite the challenges and persistent criticism, Manet remained relentless in bringing people in grips with impressionism. Some of his most famous works include:
Music in the Tuileries
The Battle of the USS “Kearsarge” and the CSS “Alabama”
The Execution of Emperor Maximilian
A Bar at the Folies-Bergere
The Absinthe Drinker
The last work of one of the pioneers of modernism was A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Before his last piece of artwork, he received the highest form of recognition in his life, Légion d’honneur, from the French government.
In 1880, Edouard Manet fell prey to a medical condition that made him retire to the quieter suburbs of Paris. The last many of his personal works were portraits of his wife, Suzanne Leenhoff.
He passed away in 1883, leaving behind a timeless legacy of 430 oil paintings, 89 pastels and more than 400 works on paper.
Above all, his reputation as the first of the moderns and one of the most influential artists remains unsurpassed to this day.
Ivan Bilibin was a Russian artist born in 1876 and is mostly remembered for his illustrative works of folk lore.
Art has been a cornerstone of human evolution and enlightenment. From the cavemen to modern day illustrators, humans have come a long way in using narrative images to tell stories.
Yet, most among us have a rather rustic and narrow view of illustration throughout Art History.
After acknowledging Pre-Raphaelites and admiring Impressionists and Symbolists, we don’t take long before ending our horizons of illustration with Europe’s contemporary illustrations.
What we have yet to realize is that the world of illustration is and has always been one of the most versatile forms of art.
A blend of design, depth, detail, lightness and dark with a strange muteness, the works of Ivan Bilibin are one such example of fascinating visual arts.
His best works of art are a vivid visual illustration of Russian history and folklore and more importantly, they are a world on their own.
The underrated Russian artist, Ivan Bilibin was born in Tarkhovka, a suburb of St. Petersburg on 4th August, 1876.
He was a son of a naval doctor who graduated from the law faculty of St. Petersburg University with the intention of becoming a lawyer.
His deeply rooted passion for drawing from an early age led him to study art simultaneously at Anton Ažbe Art School in Munich in 1898.
His experience in a private studio at Munich opened him up to a new world of stimulating ways to express senses and emotions.
On his return back home, he could not help but feel the void that the absence of art was creating in his life. He soon came across a similar set-up in St. Petersburg, managed by Ilya Repin.
During his time at the studio, Bilinin developed a high regard and respect for Repin as an artist. In 1930, he expressed his feelings in his In Memory of Repin as: “He thought and taught in forms and lines as simply as we think and talk to each other in words.”
In 1899, he attended an exhibition by Victor Vasnetsov which comprised mostly of the scenes from folklore and opera.
His work inspired him so much that he found himself drawn to the wilderness and distant regions of Old Russia.
The artists work from this trip was highly appreciated by the Department for the Production of State Documents and he was, thus, employed to illustrate a series of fairy tale books.
The Tale of Ivan the Tsar’s Son, The Frog Princess, The Little White Duck, and Vassilisa the Beautiful are among the most famous of these books.
Bilibin’s ability to use colors vividly, his delicate strokes and just the right selection of shades for the atmosphere are what made his illustrations stand out.
These illustrations not only narrated a scene explicitly, but they also had the ability to bring themselves to life in a viewer’s head. These books gave young Bilibin a promising head start into a remarkable career of illustration and stage designing.
Ivan Bilibin was the creator of the most replicated image in modern Russia. Very few people know that the two-headed eagle on coins of the Bank of Russia belongs to Bilibin’s brush. Painted in 1917, this eagle has become the official symbol of Russia.
Types of Work
Despite possessing the professional qualifications to practice as a lawyer, Bilibin did not once have a speck of doubt that his professional identity could be nothing but that of an artist.
His initial commissions came for magazines and journals from the World of Art. Ten of his illustrations for fairy tales were put on show in a World of Art exhibition.
However, the biggest break-through in his career by far came after his commission by the Department of State Documents. By 1904, Bilibin completed a series of illustrations and due to his outstanding work, the department commissioned him to illustrate fairy tales by Pushkin.
Ivan Bilibin’s remarkable work is not restricted to the sphere of illustrations. In fact, he made a name in another field of graphic art; stage set and costumes. Bilibin designed the stage set and costumes for Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Snow Maiden which opened in Prague in 1905.
He also provided designs for the premieres of Rimsky-Korsakov’s version of Boris Godunov (1908), and The Golden Cockerel (1909).
Subject Matter of Bilibin’s Work
The dominant subject matter of Bilibin’s work is guided by a unique sense of place. In most of his illustrations, wilderness of Old Russia are the overriding visual details that give his work as many distractions as focal points.
His work also contains a wide array of traditional designs, patterns and motifs. Above all, Bilibin’s ability to bring a sense of reality to his illustrations is the primary factor that increases all of his works’ appeal tenfold.
The subject matter of his work encircles traditional Russian culture. This is strongly reflected in his illustrations for folk tales for children.
Ivan Bilibin committed most of his work to the theme of Russian fairy tales. He found a great deal of inspiration from decorative and folk art that he came across on his trips to Northern Russsia.
Ivan Bilibin died in the February of 1942 in Leningrad during the German blockade. He starved to death as he refused to leave the city and was buried in a collective grave.
The great artist left several of his works unfinished which he was working on during the last few years of his life. Like his other remarkable finished masterpieces, this unfinished work is still not short of his design details and impeccable illustrations.
Needless to say, his undying legacy is worthy of stepping out of the local boundaries of art and marveling at his phenomenal illustrations of folk and fairy tales.
What makes some artists famous and others fade into obscurity? The most famous artists are the ones that capture a time, a place, an idea or spear head a new artistic movement.
Our list of famous artists contains some of the most genius minds to ever exist.
Their art has stood the test of time and adorn galleries the world over with many of their works worth hundreds of millions of dollars on the rare occasions that they come up for auction.
1. Leonardo Da Vinci
Famous artists names don’t get any more recognizable than da Vinci he towers above all other famous artists with a seemingly endless almost supernatural talent.
Leonardo da Vinci, whose interests encompassed everything from painting to architecture, epitomized the renaissance man.
Due to his many endeavors and despite his fame, da Vinci was not a prolific painter, having less than two dozen paintings surviving over the centuries, but his love of science permeated his artistic work (e.g. Vitruvian Man).
Born in 1452 Tuscany, Italy, da Vinci showed an early aptitude for art despite a short formal education. Around fourteen years old, he apprenticed under Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence where he studied subjects like carpentry and drawing.
By twenty years old he qualified as a master artist at Florence’s Guild of Saint Luke where he established his own workshop but continued his apprenticeship with del Verrocchio for several more years.
After a successful painting career and paralysis of his left hand, da Vinci focused his later years on scientific studies until his death in 1519.
Michelangelo Buonarotti was regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time even while he was still alive.
Although he thought of himself as a sculptor, his artistic talents spread to painting, architecture, and even poetry, but sculpture was the one art form that remained a constant throughout his career.
Born in 1475, Michelangelo was less interested in formal schooling and more interested in church paintings from an early age. By the time he was thirteen, he began an apprenticeship with Domenico Ghirlandaio.
While it was supposed to last three, it ended after just one year because he had already learned all he could from Ghirlandaio, moving on to join the Humanist Academy in Florence.
After completing David in 1501, he secured himself as a respected artist and gained notoriety, leading to a successful career. Towards the end of his life, he abandoned his artistic ventures for architecture until his death in 1564.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, or Rembrandt, was born in 1606 in modern day Netherlands. As a master in visual arts, he is widely renowned as both a painter and print-maker.
Though he painted a wide breadth of subject matter, he was particularly fond of self portraits as well as biblical scenes. He is credited as one of the greatest painter in history.
At fourteen years old, Rembrandt apprenticed Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam for six months. Afterwards, he opened his own studio in Leiden where he took on numerous pupils.
Though he made more than a modest income, he spent his money with wild abandon, leaving himself penniless most of his life.
Thankfully, he spent his money on art which mostly appreciated in value, allowing him to avoid bankruptcy by selling the art he had acquired over the years. Eventually he passed away as a poor man in 1669.
Johannes Vermeer, born in 1632 Holland, was a baroque painter known for his masterful use of pigments and light.
Although he enjoyed painting biblical and mythological scenes, he specialized in painting domestic interior scenes of the middle class lifestyle, often depicting the same scenes and individuals in multiple paintings.
One aspect of his painting that separates him from his contemporaries was his excessive use of expensive paints without concern in conjunction with his lack of preparations for each of his paintings.
Much of Vermeer’s life is left unsure, including whom he apprenticed under. Additionally, only thirty-four paintings are attributed to him today.
However, it is known that in 1653 Vermeer became a master, though he did not achieve wide success until after his death in 1675 where he has been known as one of the greatest painters of the dutch golden age.
Pablo Picasso, born in 1881 Malaga, Spain, is one of the most esteemed painters, in addition to printmaker, poet, and playwright, in history.
Throughout his life, he changed techniques several different times, making it difficult to pinpoint what his trademark style was.
In his early years, his paintings depicted colorful scenes of blue hues, whereas later it turned to blue-green hues that often depicted scenes of impoverished peoples.
Born the son of a painter, Picasso’s father taught him what he knew until Picasso had surpassed him. At fourteen years old, his family moved to Barcelona and he was accepted to the local fine arts school despite his age.
After becoming political during World War II, he eventually enjoyed a very successful career where he achieved international success until he died of heart failure in 1973.
Claude Monet was one of the founders of the impressionist movement, coining the term from his painting Impression, Sunrise. His subject matter always centered on land and seascapes with his most fond subject being the French countryside.
Often, he would paint the same scene over many times to capture the changing of seasons. However, he also painted portraits, most notably of his wife Camille Doncieux in The Woman in the Green Dress.
Born in 1840 Paris, France, he started with drawing charcoal caricatures in his youth. He later learned painting and his outdoor painting style from his mentor Eugene Boudin.
While traveling as a child, he met Edouard Manet, another eventual impressionist. After returning from the military as an adult, he struggled for many years until he finally reached a successful career with the impressionist movement. He eventually died of lung cancer in 1926 at eighty-six years old.
7. Van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh, born in 1853 Netherlands, is one of the most prominent painters in history. With a large body of work, he created everything from landscapes, still life’s, portraits, and self-portraits.
Born to a wealthy family, he spent his early life as a missionary until pursuing painting when he was almost thirty.
Throughout his life, he was plagued by mental health issues, going in and out of psychiatric hospitals, one instance occurring after he severed his own ear which he is now infamous for. Eventually his mental health issues caught up to him and he died of suicide in 1890.
Ironically, Van Gogh became famous after his suicide, becoming a mythological figure deemed as a tragic genius. His work is largely characterized as neo-impressionistic with a strong use of vivid colours.
Edvard Munch was born in 1863 Norway the son of a priest. After enrolling as an engineer in 1879, he learned scaling and how to draw until an illness disrupted his studies and he dropped out, later pursuing painting instead.
After a few years, he moved to Paris where he studied the impressionist style and learned how to use their vivid color techniques. Struggling to find his own unique style, he continually bounced between naturalism and impressionism throughout his adulthood.
Eventually, his paintings turned more symbolic than realistic, depicting the essence of emotions rather than individuals displaying emotions themselves. The last two decades of his life Munch spent isolated until he died in 1944.
Of all of his famous paintings it is his work called The Scream, one of the most valuable paintings of all time representing the anxiety of the modern man. This work has four versions: two in pastels and two in paints.
9. Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali, born in 1904 Spain, was a surrealist artist that bore striking and bizarre images, often containing sexual and Freudian as well as mathematical and scientific elements. In addition to painting, he also pursued film, poetry, sculpture, and graphic arts.
At fourteen years old, Dali attended the Municipal Drawing School at Figueres where he studied drawing and later moved to Madrid to further his studies.
Early on, his art was more in line with cubism and avant-garde styles but later shifted to surrealism where he became a prominent figure. After moving around Spain and France, he eventually moved to the United States where his career took off.
In 1980, Dali started to exhibit signs of Parkinsons, and, with the passing of his wife Gala shortly after, led to a halt in his artistic endeavors and a steady decline until his own death in 1989.
10. Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, born in Pennsylvania in 1928, was a wildly controversial pop artist. His use of irony and popular elements in his art, fusing together the worlds of art, advertisement, and celebrities, was criticized as a business move to make more money rather than an artistic choice.
As a sickly child, Warhol spent a lot of time bedridden, to which he credited as a vital period in forming his skills and artistic expression.
After studying commercial art in high school, he moved to New York City where he worked in magazine illustration and advertising and became known for his shoe designs.
His inflammatory drawings caused his art to quickly become both popular and controversial.
Even more controversial was his studio, which housed drag queens and other queer individuals, and his personal life where he lived openly gay in a pre-Stonewall era.
Eventually he died due to post-operational complications in 1987.
Edgar Degas was perhaps one of the most purely talented of the impressionists of the late nineteen century — he had a feel for movement and composition that was both the product of intuition and a lifetime of study.
During his life, Degas was often overshadowed by the other impressionists. It wasn’t until later that people realized true stature of the artist– and how prolific he really was.
Degas was born in 1834, to a wealthy banking family in Paris. He was fortunate to have a liberal family which supported his education in the arts. After receiving a classical education at Lycee Louis-le-Grand from 1845 to 1852 and studying law for a while, he decided to become a painter.
He studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris before concluding that he could gain more through independent study. He began faithfully copying the old masters in the Louvre, and continued to do so many years.
Throughout his life Edgar Degas would make over 700 copies of famous classical paintings. It was in this way that he taught himself to paint in any number of styles, and by 1860 had opened a studio in Paris where he painted historical subjects and portraits that were popular at the time.
By the late 1860s, Degas had met and befriended Edouard Manet and the Novelist Louis Edmond Duranty and began to frequent the Cafe Guerbois where many new impressionist artists met for discussion. It was then that he began to develop his own style, influenced by Japanese prints as well as the impressionists and he would go on to produce some of the most famous impressionist paintings ever produced.
After a stay in New Orleans in 1872, Degas returned to Paris and opened another studio. He now turned his attention to what would become his muse for the rest of his life, the theater– dancers, acrobats, singers, and the gracefulness of the female form.
At the impressionist exhibits, Degas chose to highlight a wide variety of styles and subjects rather than choose one theme.
Edgar Degas prided himself on his ability to work in any number of styles, from including classical and realist styles, as well as romanticism, and may have somewhat resented being labelled as an impressionist.
Perhaps this was one of the reasons he never caught on with the public in the way many of the others did.
Although Degas participated in seven of the eight impressionist exhibitions, there were a number of things that set him apart from the movement.
He disliked painting directly from nature, preferring the solitude of his studio, and was uninterested in studying natural light and landscapes, more intrigued by people.
He loved the theater and many of his paintings use the dance halls, cafes, or opera house as settings.
Although he painted many race courses and other outdoor subjects, it was the ballet dancers, in both oil and pastel, that degas would ultimately devote himself to. In his later years degas painted many of his dancers from memory– it had become intuitive.
The would go on to become his most famous paintings and the bulk of his work for which he will be remembered for.
The amazing thing for me is how each of these paintings, while portraying similar scenes, convey a new sensitivity and impression. They show a gracefulness and beauty that makes it easy to forget the skill and hard work that must have gone into each painting.
Like many artists, Edgar Degas did not stop working as he grew older and his eyesight began to fail– he simply switched mediums and began working with pastels and sculpture.
His pastels from the 1890s, while not as detailed or technically perfect as his earlier canvasses, make up for it in expressiveness of line and color. His bronze sculpture of a young dancer is lifelike and graceful, but also displays a fragility as she struggles to hold the pose.
For an artist who most of his life was obsessed with technical perfection, there is an expressiveness and freedom with his later work that must have been liberating. “Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.”