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10 Most Famous Spanish Paintings

The contribution of Spanish paintings throughout the art world cannot be underestimated.

Whilst French artists were largely responsible for the impressionism movement it is the Spanish had a very significant contribution to the Cubist and the Surrealist movements.

Names such as Picasso, Dali and Goya regularly feature in famous artists lists the world over.

Famous Spanish Paintings

1. Guernica

Picasso - Guernica

One of the largest pieces of art that Pablo Picasso would complete throughout his lifetime Guernica is also one of the most famous Spanish paintings ever produced.

Picasso painted Guernica as an anti-war protest against the shocking bombing of the town of Guernica in the Basque Country of Northern Spain by Nazi German and Fascist Italian forces at the request of the Spanish Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War.

Displayed initially at the Paris International Exposition in 1937, it was commissioned by the Spanish Republican government.

The painting was later sent on a world tour to help raise funds for the Spanish war relief.

It helped to draw massive attention to the civil war in Spain.

A giant tapestry of Guernica hangs in the United Nations building in New York.

At the time Picasso was living in Paris and would never return to Spain before his death in 1973.

He is widely considered the most famous Spanish Artist ever and his art routinely fetches record highs at auction.

2. The Persistence of Memory

One of the most iconic images ever Salvador Dali’s mind bending The Persistence of Memory has been reproduced countless times of posters and prints.

And is heralded as one of the most famous paintings in the world by one of the one of the most recognizable names in art.

Dali painted the piece in 1931 and it has since become the defining painting of the surrealist art movement.

The image in question is said to be one of the first pieces that Dali painted in which he used his ‘paranoid-critical’ technique where after experiencing self-induced hallucinations the artist would project his own phobias into the canvas.

Of which he famously said  “The difference between a madman and me,” he said, “is that I am not mad.”

He would subsequently use the imagery of melting watches several times in later works.

The Persistence of Memory was anonymously donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1934 where it continues to hang to this day.

3. Las Meninas

To the modern eye Las Meninas may not look like that extraordinary yet at the time it was one of the most revolutionary pieces of art of it’s day.

Diego Velazquez painted Las Meninas in 1656 and it was a major departure from more traditional royal portraiture.

The portraits of the day would previously only have featured members of the royal family and in such works there was considerably more structure and the hierarchy as to placement of each of the members.

Las Meninas however strongly breaks with tradition and features not oly a nun, dwarf and princess but also the artist himself.

At the time Velazquez held the position of palace chamberlain in the Spanish royal court, a position which would allow him considerable leeway in comparison to other artists of the day.

4. The Third of May 1808

In 1807, Napoleon struck an alliance with the king of Spain Charles IV in an attempt to conquer Portugal.

As a result the French army massed into Spain en route to Portugal.

However, the Spanish soon realized it was a trick on Napoleon’s part and his real intention was to conquer Spain too.

On May 2, 1808 hundreds of Spanish nationals rebelled in Madrid. By the 3rd of May they had been rounded up and were executed by the French and the streets of Madrid ran red with their blood.

Francisco Goya honored his fallen countrymen with two paintings that depict each day.

The Second of May, 1808 is a classic battle scene of charging horses and twisted bodies.

The Third of May, 1808 in Madrid however is considered one of the most famous paintings in the world as it is thought of as the first truly modern painting.

The reason for this is that it transforms Christian iconography and is a clear portrayal of man’s inhumanity to man.

A poor laborer takes the position of Christ in the center of the image as he sacrifices himself for his country.

On closer inspection there is even a stigmata that is clearly visible on his right hand.

It is said to have influenced Picasso when he painted Guernica featured above.

5. Les Demoiselles D’Avignon

One of Picasso’s most striking Cubist paintings Les Demoisselles D’Avignon depicts a group of prostitutes from the Avignon street in Barcelona which was famous for it’s brothels and the amount of artists that it attracted.

In earlier preparatory works for the piece the figure on the left was originally a young man who is just about to enter the brothel, however Picasso subsequently revered this decision as he though a male influence would interrupt the narrative of the imagery.

The painting was said to be shocking when it was first viewed and the Cubist style combined with three of the naked women gazing out directly at the viewer was deemed to be highly confrontational for the day.

It was a major departure from the more traditional styles of paintings that many French artists of the day had been producing.

Picasso was heavily influenced by “Primitive” art and in particular African masks which is strongly evidenced by the large almond shaped eyes of each of the women.

Picasso was only 25 years old when he painted Les Demoisselles D’Avignon whilst living and working in a cramped studio in Paris.

6. The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

El Greco was one of the most famous Renaissance artists of his day and one of the few non Italian artists of the day to achieve massive fame for his works.

Like most Renaissance paintings of the time The Burial of the Count of Orgaz was commissioned by the church and it adorns the Santo Tome church in Toledo, Spain.

The scene is said to depict the internment of the Count of Orgaz and which during this ceremony the heavens erupted and the sky was filled with larger than life images of Jesus, the Virgin and many other saints and angels.

El Greco chose to immortalize many local dignitaries into the painting which also included the priest Nunez who commissioned the painting on behave of the church

7. Saturn Devoring His Son

Francisco Goya live in a house called “la Quinta del Sordo” and he decorated it with many murals on the walls.

Some of these murals are known to belong to the artists series known as the “Black Paintings” as he used a very large proportion of black pigment throughout the murals.

In 1873 the Baron Émile d´Erlanger acquired “la Quinta” and set about having the murals transferred to canvases.

Unfortunately during the transfer process a lot of the paint on the murals were damaged, after which the Baron choose to transfer the canvases to the Prado museum where they have been on permanent display since 1889.

Saturn is the Romanized name of the Greek Titan Chronus who feared he would be overthrown by his children.

Upon their birth Cronus is said to have eaten every one of his children, however his wife hid his third child(Jupiter) from him, Jupiter would eventually supplant his father and fulfill the prophecy.

8. The Old Guitarist

Picasso spent much of his life in abject poverty and during this time he is said to have found a great affinity with the poor and downtrodden of the world.

The Old Guitarist was painted in 1903 at a time when Picasso himself is said to be almost penniless whilst living in Barcelona.

The painting was painted during his ‘Blue’ period when almost every canvas was painted in a dull monochrome palette of blue, a color that suited the type of subject matter that he would cover.

The guitar is a break in the muted almost flat, two dimensional forms that the monochrome blue creates, whilst the guitarist looks bent over and depressed.

Subsequent X-rays of the painting have revealed that there is a ghostly character(a woman) that Picasso had initially started to paint but changed his mind and decided to paint over.

9. The Farm

After the first world war came to an end just like thousands of other hopeful artists Juan Miro arrived in Paris in 1920.

The farm was to become one of his most best known paintings and one of the most famous Spanish paintings ever.

The artist described it as somewhat of a turning point in his career, remarking upon it as “a summary of my entire life in the countryside” and “the summary of one period of my work, but also the point of departure for what was to follow.”

Miro had a strong affinity with the countryside as he grew up on a small Spanish farm or “masia”(traditional Catalan farmhouse).

The painting depicts ever aspect of country life and life on a farm.

It was painted at a time when cubism was all the rage and initially Miro struggled to find a buyer.

It was later donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in 1987 by Mary Hemingway wife of Ernest Hemingway of whom which Miro was a friend.

10. Portrait of Picasso

During 1906 Juan Gris traveled to Paris where he met Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso.

Gris would become hugely involved with Picasso in developing the new Cubist style that was all the rage.

Picasso took Gris under his wing and became a mentor of sorts.

In the image of Portrait of Picasso he paints Picasso in a larger than life setting with his body taking up almost all of the available space on the canvas.

Interestingly Juan Gris unlike most Cubist of the time would use a variety of colors in his paintings, whereas other artists would use a limited palette to attain a more monochrome look for all of their art works.

Although this list of famous Spanish paintings is not exhaustive it does capture some of the greatest artworks from Spain with each piece telling a story far more important than the image on the canvas.

Famous Renoir Paintings

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was known as one of the leading Impressionist painters of the 19th century.

He often used friends and family to model for his paintings. The ones that show daily life were taken from his own life with his family.

During the course of his career, he played around with different styles and techniques in his several thousand paintings.

His focus shifted from painting scenery, formal portraiture, classical style, and at one point he focused on women and nudes. The following are 10 of Renoir’s most famous paintings.

Famous Renoir Paintings

1. Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette

Dance at Le Moulin De La Galette

The Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette is easily the most famous Renoir painting.

Finished in 1876, this oil painting depicts a scene in an outdoor dance hall, Moulin de la Galette, in the Paris art district of Montmartre.

At the forefront, you can see two women speaking to two men seated at a table. Behind the pairs are people dancing, with most wearing black suits and dresses.

Though he uses blacks, there is still a lot of colors seen, especially in his portrayal of sunlight.

Renoir once said that “the queen of all colors was black.” This painting offers a glimpse into France’s life of leisure and is one of his most celebrated art pieces.

2. Luncheon of the Boating Party

Luncheon of the Boating Party - Renoir

This painting is set at the Maison Fournaise restaurant in Chatou where people went to rent rowboats, eat, and spend the night.

His use of the restaurant setting showcases the many different people who often gathered to share good food, drinks, and conversations with each other on a balcony overlooking the Seine.

Renoir uses eye-catching colors that set the viewers’ eyes to the many different people. This painting also focuses on three main things – portraiture, still-life, and the outdoors. It was finished in 1881.

3. The Swing

While working on the Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, Renoir also worked on The Swing.

In this oil painting, you can see a young man, with his back shown, speaking to a young lady standing on a swing.

Watching the two are a little girl and a man leaning against a tree. There’s another group of people in the background, but just an outline of their figures are seen.

It appears to be a snapshot of a conversation between the two people that the viewers are spying upon. The scene is set in the gardens now known as Musee de Montmartre.

Renoir uses interesting effects to showcase the sunlight appearing through the foliage. He showed this art at the 3rd Impressionist Exhibition in 1877.

4. Dance at Bougival

Dance at Bougival

Set in an open-air cafe in Bougival, a city outside of Paris, this painting captures a dance between a man and a woman.

The woman wears a red hat and pink dress and has her head slightly turned. The man is wearing a straw hat covering the top of his face and a blue suit.

Behind the couple are people sitting at tables and talking.

This painting, finished in the spring of 1883, shows a shift in style for Renoir.

The figures have the softness and ease of an Impressionism painting but with an emphasis on the forms and outlines of his subjects.

5. Two Sisters

Two Sisters is a painting of an older girl sitting with her younger sister.

The older girl wears a red hat and blue jacket while the younger one wears a flower crown. Both are sitting on a terrace overlooking the river with a basket of flowers.

The terrace is part of the Maison Fournaise, a restaurant on an island in the Seine, and is also the setting for Luncheon of the Boating Party.

As in other Renoir paintings, the background is blurred, with the foliage blending into the water, and seeing only glimpses of the scenery beyond. It was presented at the 7th Impressionist Exhibition in the spring of 1882.

6. La Grenouillère

La Grenouillere means the frog pond and was a cafe and bathing place on the Seine.

Renoir painted this masterpiece alongside Monet in 1869. While Monet’s painting showcases the landscape, Renoir concentrates on the people who sit on and bathe near the round islet known as the flowerpot.

He is able to capture life as a fleeting moment, as people sit and converse, swim, row, or sail. There’s even a dog napping on the islet.

Renoir is able to show an emphasis on the figures using the blues and greens of the water and trees as the background.

7. Two Young Girls at the Piano

In late 1891, Renoir was asked by the French government to paint for a new museum in Paris, Musee de Luxembourg, that would be showcasing the work of living artists.

Knowing that this painting would be under scrutiny, he took extreme care with this piece, developing and refining it until it was to his liking.

He chose two girls sitting at a piano to show the domestic life of the bourgeois.

Sitting at the piano is a young blonde girl wearing a white dress, while another young girl, a brunette wearing a pink dress, overlooks the sheet music standing behind the blonde’s shoulders.

8. The Large Bathers

This painting is of ladies’ bathing. There are two women close to the water, while one is in the water facing the two.

The woman in the water appears to be ready to splash one of the women, who reclines back with her hands up to avoid the playful splash. Renoir took great care in sculpting the women and positioning them in a way to avoid certain body parts.

You can see two other women bathing in the background. It took Renoir three years, from 1884-1887, to finish The Large Bathers.

It showcased a new style, and Renoir received criticism for it, so he never took that much time on any painting again.

9. Reclining Nude

This style of painting is similar to many others that Auguste Renoir has painted during his phase of painting nudes.

In this painting, he showcases a young woman relaxing on a bed of foliage that follows the flows and contours of her body.

He creates a rhythm of harmony from the curves of her body to the nature around her. The ruddy background colors make way for the white cloth in contrast with the woman’s flesh.

This graceful figure of a full-bodied woman became a sort of trademark for Renoir that he uses in other paintings.

10. Bathers

Renoir paintings

This painting represents all that Renoir has learned throughout the years.

He uses the color of an Impressionist, the clarity and simplicity of a fresco, the playful grace of his 18th-century predecessors, and drew from the works of Raphael and Ingres.

There are two women placed prominently in the front, while three other women bathe in the background. The foliage is blurred and blends into the water.

His take on the women shows their natural allure and presents a similar taste and style as he did in The Large Bathers, where he places things to avoid certain parts of the body. He created this piece between 1918 and 1919.

Monet Haystacks Series (1890-1891)

The Monet Haystacks series of work is a prime example of his unwavering drive to capture light and it’s relationship to an object or scene and how that light changes both during the day and throughout the year.

Claude Monet would spend considerable time painting the same subject matter over and over again and has many series of canvases to his name.

The Water Lilies is probably the most recognized of his these collections and the largest as it spans some 250 canvases.

However, Monet’s haystacks painting are held in very high esteem within the art world as being some of his finest work albeit not as well known as the water lilies.

Some of his latter work such as The Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge and Monet Artist’s Garden did not feature a sky line or horizon and had a much narrower focus.

Whereas the haystacks painting were much larger scenes and often contained the horizon, rolling countryside and tree lines in the distance.

Monet Haystacks

As the name suggests the subject matter of the Haystacks series are stacks of hay or wheat following the harvest.

Monet had to convince a local farmer close to his home in Giverny to allow him to access the fields over a extended period of time that spanned several seasons.

He worked tirelessly for roughly 18 months between 1890 and 1891 with all of Monet’s paintings being no more than three kilometers from his house in the French countryside.

Very few of the paintings feature a single haystack with the bulk having two or three individual stacks present.

Not only where the haystacks painted at varying parts of the day to capture the differences in light but others were also painted across different seasons.

The majority were painted in late spring and through the summer.

However, Monet did complete some canvases during the winter and they feature the affect of both the lower winter sun and the snow on the ground.

The speed at which the light changes during the winter gave the artist particular trouble and many individual pieces had to be attempted on multiple occasions to capture the same light again on a different day.

A similar approach he would use on the Rouen Cathedral series of paintings

Monet was famous for his ability to work on multiple canvases all on the same day often for no more than an hour or so on each individual one.

He would routinely have his assistant bring many different works that had been started previously from his studio back out into the fields so that he could choose one to work on providing that the current lighting conditions were similar to when it was started.

The reason behind this was that light and color changed dramatically throughout the day especially when dealing with an object such as a haystack that casts a considerable shadow in the foreground.

The Haystacks series have some of the most vibrant sun sets that Monet ever painted.

In recent years some of the series have fetched record prices at auction with and was sold by Sotheby’s for $110.7 million making it one of the most expensive impressionist paintings ever sold.

The bulk of the 25 pieces in Monet’s Haystacks series now reside in public galleries rather than private collections.

Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge – Claude Monet

The Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge was painted by Claude Monet sometime between between 1897 and 1899.

There were times in Monet’s life like most artists where he struggled financially.

Like most impressionist Monet’s earlier work was not well received by the established Parisian critics of the day.

However, by the mid-1890’s the impressionist movement had become established and so too had Monet as one of it’s brightest stars.

With this new found fame also came considerable wealth and for the first time in his life Claude Monet was financially secure.

He has been living at his house in Giverny as a tenant for several years, and his success as an artist had now allowed him to purchase the house out right and allow him to develop the gardens with a huge array of colorful flowers and it’s focal point the lily pond.

The pond was actually on a plot of land that was purchased separately to the house and Monet had to apply to the local council for planning consent to develop what was a marshy field into the magnificently structured and manicured gardens that we can still see to this day.

Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge

The Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge is unusual in it’s more vertically orientated format.

The shape of the canvas allowed Monet to create a real sense of depth as the viewer is drawn into the image with the Japanese bridge being the focal point.

The Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge is actually one of a series of paintings, of the sixteen canvases that were planned only 12 were brought to completion.

Unlike The Artist’s Garden at Giverny which was a single painting Monet would paint many series of the exact same scene in an effort to capture the different lighting conditions at various times of the day or season and also in varying weather conditions.

Throughout his career Monet had spent considerable time painting en plein air in the fields surrounding his home in Giverny and in his beloved garden.

However due to the quickly changing light conditions he would start many paintings in the outdoors only to call a halt once the light had changed.

Monet would then either finish them in his studio or attempt to find the same light conditions on a subsequent day.

Most paintings by Monet would be painted using this method and he could work several paintings throughout the day for no more than an hour each.

He would often have ten to twenty canvases transported to the location to compare them to the light conditions on the day and then choosing the one that best matched.

His series of haystacks is one such example where his assistant had to transport multiple unfinished canvases in a wheel barrow out to the field to see if they matched the prevailing light on the day.

In his garden however things were a lot simpler and the artist had a much greater sense of control over the garden than when out in the surrounding fields.

Like most famous impressionist paintings the use of color and the relationship to light is one of the most important aspects of Monet’s canvases.

The Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge is a culmination of of both his talents as an artist and and as a gardener.

Rouen Cathedral Monet – (1892 – 1894)

Just like his other series of works when painting Rouen Cathedral Monet had sought to capture the varying affects of color and light throughout both the seasons and at different times of the day.

Monet would paint the mighty cathedral of Rouen in Normandy more than thirty times between 1892 and 1893, several of which were later reworked at his studio in 1894.

Rouen Cathedral Claude Monet

Like most of paintings by Monet the subject matter of the Rouen Cathedral presented a challenge as to the artist as the affects of light would change quickly throughout the day.

This would lead Monet to paintings several canvases on the same day, usually only working on one for mo more than one hour.

Once the light had changed beyond an acceptable limit he would simply stop work on that canvas and wait for another similar day in terms of light and weather so that he could continue working on it.

Monet actually had his studio at Rouen in rented accommodation across from the cathedral.

Throughout Moet’s Cathedral series of paintings the artist would paint the building from five separate view points.

Three different points of view from the building in front of the cathedral and two from the square.

The impressionist paintings of the cathedral were both a critical and financial success.

At the time in France there was a significant revival in Catholicism and some of the success of the paintings should be attributed to this.

As with many other of Monet’s series the object or subject matter in question is of lesser importance than that of it’s relationship with light.

On such a large man made structure how light moved across it and the colors that would be produced at different times of the day and seasons is what truly interested Monet.

Unlike his series of Haystacks Monet had the chance to work on a very large object year round and often from the comfort of a indoor view point.

Capturing the exact subtleties of the specific color hues of the light on the cathedral and any point in time was a considerable challenge.

Monet would often quickly sketch out the painting and then finish it frin memory.

Unlike some of his other works like the Japanese Bridge Monet and The Artist’s Garden would use very thick paint when painting the Rouen Cathedral often in multiple layers which allowed him to manipulate the colors and the depth considerably.

Many of the canvases were later reworked at his art studio at home in Giverny.

In fact some were retouched so that there was some continuity in the and many were adjusted in relation to each other.

As a result of so many being completed in his home study a lot of them are dated 1894 even though they may have been started in Normandy several years earlier.

Upon completion of the series Monet choose 20 pieces that he considered ‘complete’ and they were displayed as a collection at Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris.

The Artist’s Garden at Giverny – Claude Monet

Claude Monet painted The Artist’s Garden at Giverny in 1900 and is one of is finest expressions of color of any of his landscape paintings.

Monet moved to the house in Giverny in 1893 at the time the property was rented and looked substantially more farm like or rural than the manicured gardens they would be transformed into.

By 1890 Monet’s popularity as an artist had significantly increased and so too had his finances which allowed him to purchase the property outright.

Over the next few years with the help of two full time and several part time gardeners he was able to transform the garden at Giverny into the explosion of color and structure that it is today.

Most of his impressionist paintings were painted en plein air and in earlier life these were of much larger scenes of rolling country side or urban settings.

However the country side offered little control to the artist in terms of color and how it changed throughout the year.

Later in his life he retreated to his garden where he had the ultimate control over nature.

The Artist’s Garden at Giverny

In The Artist’s Garden at Giverny we can see Monet’s masterful use of color that is given order or structure by the very strict lines of the flower beds.

Every square inch of the garden at Giverny was planned including the addition of a substantial pond which would form a large part of the artist’s body of work; the famous Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge series of paintings.

Monet would spend the best part of the last thirty years of his life refining the garden and and the different species of flowers and plants contained within it.

It was a big departure from the Monet Haystacks series of work that were painted out in a local farmers field.

Monet’s love of color and distaste of darker tones is evident as there is very little earth on show, almost every plane or surface is covered in either varying shades of green or a burst of vibrant color.

In the painting Claude Monet gives us a master class in brush work as he used very short definite strokes that give an almost 3D feel to the painting.

The diagonal row of irises draw the eye back towards the weeping willow trees that cast a shade over the rear half of the picture.

Through the trees we are given only the slightest hint of his house behind them.

At the front darker shades of greens for the flower stems and browns for the pathway suggest more shade in the foreground.

With the color of the flower petals being more muted.

It is in the middle of the painting however that we see a burst of vibrant color as the sun reflects off of the brilliant purples of the irises.

Known as one of the founding members of the impressionist movement Monet had spent the best part of his adult life refining his technique and brush work to bring his canvas alive by manipulating color and it’s relationship to the objects in question.

This can be seen through many of his works in particular the Rouen Cathedral series.

It is currently housed at the Musée d’Orsay as are so many others works of the artist.

Like most of Monet’s paintings The Artist’s Garden at Giverny captures the light in such a way that the viewer is almost transported to the location and can see the scene through the artist’s own eyes.

10 Most Famous Renaissance Paintings

The most famous Renaissance paintings span a period of some 300 years and marked a period of revolution in art that has not been equaled to this day.

The Renaissance spans over three centuries from the 14th to the 17th century AD and marked a boom in classical based artworks that have stood the test of time.

Most notable were it’s artists and their return to classical thinking and the philosophies of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Today such names as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael are all considered geniuses and their contribution to art, the humanities, science and philosophy is unequaled.

Renaissance paintings saw a quantum leap forward in terms of materials and techniques, with the linear perspective and highly accurate anatomical representation of the human form featuring heavily.

The following list of the most famous renaissance paintings is not exhaustive but it does detail the most notable works.

Famous Renaissance Paintings

1. Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa could be considered the single most famous painting in the world and also the most famous smile to boot!

To his name Da Vinci has relatively few completed canvases when compared to other prolific proponents of the time.

However, all of his works are a considered true master pieces which is an accolade that is bestowed on very few people.

The Mona Lisa is a half height portrait and is believed to be of Lisa Gherardini who was the wife of a rich Florentine merchant by the name of Francesco del Giocondo.

The Mona Lisa is now owned by the French public and is on display at the Louvre, it is held in trust for the public and can never be sold.

There are long ques everyday just to catch a glimpse of her famous smile.

She is easily the most famous painting of the renaissance period if not of all time.

2. The Last Supper

The Last Supper

Like a lot of famous renaissance works of art The Last Supper is a religious scene and depicts the last supper of Jesus and his twelve apostles and was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.

It is a not the typical fresco that is normally painted on walls instead Leonardo decided to use his preferred oil paints instead.

Leonardo is said to favor oil as it is slow drying and allowed him to make changes and take a slower more considered approach to the work.

Leonardo realized that if is he was to use oil paints then the natural moisture that permeates through most stone wall buildings would have to be sealed other wise it would ruin his work.

To counter this he applied a double layer of gesso, mastic and pitch.

Throughout it’s long history he painting had to be restored several times.

The result of both environmental and intentional damage, very little of the original top layer of oil painting is left.

3. The Creation of Adam

the creation of adam

The Creation of Adam was painted by Michelangelo in roughly 1508 to 1512.

It form the central image in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapels’ ceiling.

The image depicts God giving life to Adam from the Book of Genesis and has become one of the most iconic and reproduced images ever produced.

The total area is roughly over 500 square meters and it took Michelangelo over four years to finish what is one of the most complex and largest fresco’s ever attempted.

In all there are some 300 figures, but the Creation of Adam focuses on God on the right giving life to Adam who represents man.

Adam is lying on the edge of the earth in a rather relaxed fashion and God is carried by his angels reaching across to Adam to give the gift of life through his touch.

To truly appreciate the grandeur of one of the renaissances finest art works you must walk under the ceiling of the Sistine chapel and gaze upwards.

4. Primavera

Sandro Botticelli is believed to have painted Primavera in 1482 the name in English means Spring and the painting is sometimes referred to as ‘Allegory of Spring‘.

The actual scene and what it represents is the cause of much debate among artistic scholars and commentators with some saying it portrays a mythical allegory and others the changing of the seasons.

It is one of the most famous examples of early renaissance art and is not only of note due to it’s meaning but also in Botticelli’s use of color which was rather striking for the age that it was painted in.

5. The School of Athens

the school of athens

The School of Athens is a fresco that was painted be Raphael between 1509 and 1511 in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

The painting features almost ever important Greek philosopher.

It is painted in the Stanza della Segnatura which is on the second floor in the North wing of the Vatican Palace.

It is one of four large fresco’s painted in that room with each of the four representing the branches of human knowledge which are Justice, Philosophy, Poetry and the School of Athens.

The use of perspective features heavily in the composition and the eye is drawn towards the two central figures Plato on the left and Aristotle on the right.

On the left are philosophers that represent Plato’s philosophies and on the right philosophers that represent Aristotle’s philosophies with a sum total of 50 figures in the painting.

6. The Birth of Venus

the birth of venus

One of Botticelli’s finest renaissance works of art The Birth of Venus features the Roman goddess Venus as she arrives on shore having been born fully grown at sea, she is delivered on a giant shell.

Sandro Botticelli was responsible for that other famous renaissance painting that depicts a mythological image the Primavera.

Both great works of art were commissioned by the powerful banking dynasty the Medici who were extremely strong patrons of art in Florence.

Previous to this time the majority of works would have been painted on wood panels but the Birth of Venus is actually tempura on canvas.

Canvas had a distinct advantage over wood as in humid climates wood had a tendency to warp whereas canvas did not.

7. Sistine Madonna

The Sistine Madonna was one of Raphael’s last great works of renaissance art, he died but a few short years later.

The painting depicts the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus flanking her in the image are Saint Sixtus and Saint Barbara, below her in the foreground are cherubs that gaze upwards towards Mary.

The painting was painted for the Benedictine Monks in the San Sisto Monastery Piacenza which was hung in pride of place near the alter.

It later found it’s way to Germany in 1754 to King Agustus III of Saxony, upon it’s arrival in Germany it caused considerable debate questioning the lines between art and religion.

The painting would later move to Moscow after World War II and then finally returning to Germany in 1955.

It is considered one of the most famous Renaissance paintings of the Virgin Mary and was a master class from Raphael in terms of light and shadow.

8. The Last Judgement

The Last Judgement is massive fresco painted by Michelangelo that adorns the whole alter wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City.

It took Michelangelo over four years between 1536 and 1541 to complete due to not only it’s size but also the complexity and the number of figures.

He started working on it 25 years after the completion of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling and by that stage was considerably old at 67 by the time it was completed.

Originally all of the males were painted as nudes but they were later covered up by the addition of painted draperies.

Initially the reception was mixed between praise and criticism with the nudes being a major talking point as too was how muscular a lot of the figures were.

9. The Kiss of Judas

The Kiss of Judas is also known as the Betrayal of Christ and depicts the scene of Judas making Christ known to the officers of the Sanhedrin which led to his arrest and ultimate execution.

It was painted by Giotto di Bondone and was commissioned by the powerful banking family the Scrovengi’s in the Scrovengi Chapel which was built by the family on the site of an ancient Roman arena.

The painting is probably most famous for the fact that it marked an end to the familiar medieval style of painting and heralded in the new wave of artistic revolution that was the early renaissance.

The series of fresco’s that Giotto painted for the rich banking family were considered at the time to be the most modern works of art of any artist.

10. The Assumption of the Virgin

The Assumption of the Virgin also known as the Frari assumption is a painting by Titan that resides at the high altar at the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosca dei Frari in Venice.

It was painted by Titan between 1515 and 1518 and is the largest altar piece in Venice.

For Titan it was the first time he sought to emulate the more modern dynamic scenes that Raphael and Michelangelo were becoming known for further south in Florence.

The painting is framed by massive marble columns and gilded edges and forms a rather striking piece when viewed from the other end of the church.

Renaissance Art

The Renaissance art movement marked a massive move away from the more Gothic scenes of medieval art that preceded it to a return to more humanistic approach to both art and thinking.

Inspired heavily by the great Greek philosophers and thinkers the renaissance artists cast off the previous focus on symbolism and focused there attention to the individual.

The rise of the wealthy merchants and banking families such as the Medici from Italian cities such as Florence and Venice allowed for a marked increase in financial support for up and coming artists to showcase there more modern style.

The reduced power and influence of the church also had an impact as the spread of humanism was allowed to grow, whereas previous churches would have resisted such developments.

That being said the church were still a massive consumers of Renaissance art with many of the most famous Renaissance paintings being fresco’s that adorn the interior of some of Italy finest chapels and cathedrals.

Early Renaissance Art (1400 – 1500)

Early Renaissance art was a bridge between the previous Byzantine Gothic style of art and the more modern humanistic approach to both art, architecture, thinking and science.

The Florentine painter Giotto was one of the first to break free from the in roughly 1300 to 1310 with his fresco’s of the Scrovegni Chapel.

This period between 1300 and 1400 is considered the proto-renaissance and marked a gradual divergence from classic symbolic Byzantine art with religious images featuring flat 2D painting techniques to a more naturalistic approach.

Gitto led the way for the early renaissance which was led by the likes of Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio with the great banking families of Florence encouraging and funding this new movement.

Both Brunelleschi  and Donatello revolutionized the use of linear perspective and gave life and depth to painting and architectural drawings.

High Renaissance Art

The high renaissance is a roughly thirty year period were all of the great names were highly active and often competing with each other for various commissions.

Most historians would consider that high renaissance art started in roughly 1495 and ended 1520 and was signaled by the death of Raphael.

All of the great names in art, architecture, sculpture, and the sciences particularly human anatomy were at the height of their creative powers.

Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Bramante embraced new techniques, materials and the progression and refinement of linear perspective.

Massive canvasses and fresco’s were undertaking on a never before seen scale and to this day are still considered some of the most famous renaissance paintings ever made.

10 Most Famous Abstract Paintings and Artworks

Contained in this list of the most famous Abstract Paintings are some of the most influential pieces that the abstract art movement ever produced.

For many, abstract art can be daunting as often to the untrained eye the artists meaning and intent can be difficult to grasp.

This is largely due to the lack of visual clues that are normally grounded in reality in other types of art.

The early abstract artists were forging a path on new ground and their artworks spanned across many mediums and techniques.

Gone were the safer constraints of more traditional representational art that had shackled artists for centuries and in was a new found sense of boundless freedom.

Famous Abstract Paintings

1. Untitled (First Abstract Watercolor)Wassily Kandinsky

Untitled(First Abstract Watercolor) was painted in 1910 by Wassily Kandinsky and is considered one of the first true abstract paintings.

Although many artists prior to this work had also begun to think in terms of abstraction, this piece is certainly one of the very first to be shown anywhere publicly and it certainly sparked considerable interest from the masses at the time.

It is in fact a preparatory study for a later work called Composition VII which was later painted in 1913.

Many have heralded it as one of the defining moments in the genesis of the abstract movement, however Kandinsky’s earlier works had already shown strong hints of where the artists was to journey to in his later works.

His work marked a very defined departure from the representational traditions of European art up and to that point in time and an eventual move towards pure abstraction.

It currently resides in the Musée National d’Art Moderne in the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.

2. Full Fathom Five – Jackson Pollock

Although he would only live for 44 years Jackson Pollock was to have a profound impact on the world of modern art painting some 363 art works in total.

Made famous for his drip techniques where the canvas would be placed on the floor and then paint dripped onto to it from above.

Pollock would often use cheap wall paint as apposed to expensive oil paints when using this technique as it did not require thinning.

Full Fathom Five is one of Pollock’s earliest drip style abstract paintings.

It has a painted black under layer onto which house paint has dripped from above, it also has many ordinary objects such as coins, cigarette butts and a key all of which help to add to the hugely textured top layer that stands out off of the canvas.

It’s name is actually from a line in “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare that a neighbor suggested to Pollock.

Pollock used various different pouring techniques and thickness of the paint to allow him to drip in an almost continuous line for each color rather that broken lines or swirls.

Many have said that the techniques came about by accident but in reality it can be viewed as pure experiment that led to one of the launch of the career of one of the most famous artists ever.

3. Tableau I – Piet Mondrian

‘Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow ‘ is one of Piet Mondrian’s most important abstract paintings as it marked a significant shift away from the artists more traditional after moving from the Netherlands to Paris.

It displays his philosophy that the universe is a naturally harmonious collection of different objects and substances and these could be combined in geometric blocks and defined black lines.

Only primary colors are used in the piece and these emphasize the building blocks of all colors.

Mondrian attained a near perfect balance throughout the painting with extreme care taken to ensure that the distribution of color and the clear delineation of the lines that form the separate shapes create a perfect compositional harmony

The work is now a very famous abstract artwork and it’s image has been used time and time again throughout pop culture.

4. 1936 (White Relief) – Ben Nicholson

Ben Nicholson was a largely influenced by the post-impression and cubist movements which were a major departure from his earlier more traditional figurative works.

However he was largely inspired by Mondrian and moved considerably away from painting techniques and representational art to create a series of geometric reliefs that are monochromatic.

It is the all white “White Relief” from 1936 that is said to be his finest abstract piece and has a stunningly quiet air to it.

He also authored a Constructivist manifesto later in life.

5. La Mancha Roja – Joan Miro

Joan Miro is one of the most famous Spanish artists to have ever lived.

His works span many genres such as abstract, surrealism and Fauvism but it is his abstract work that he will be best remembered for.

He name will long be associated with creating some of the greatest Spanish paintings ever produced.

La Mancha Roja or “The Red Spot” in English crosses the boundaries between abstract art and surrealism.

Miro claimed he did nothing more than paint the images he saw in his head and was always hesitant to describe his work as a pure abstract.

The images were often the result of hallucinations from hunger and fatigue rather than drug induced.

6. Mountains and Sea – Helen Frankenthaler

Painted in 1952 when Helen Frankenthaler was only 23 years old Mountains and Sea is painted using a soak-stain technique whereby heavily thinned oil paints are used to stain an unprepared canvas.

Unfortunately the staining of the canvas by the thinned paint will eventually lead to the canvas rotting over time.

Mountains and Sea was painted by Frankenthaler following a trip to Nova Scotia the previous summer and her technique is said to have been inspired by a viewing of a some of Jackson Pollock’s black and white paintings in 1951.

The canvas is quite large measuring some seven feet by ten feet which when viewed in person also helps the images to “float” off of the canvas due to the soak stain technique used.

She was also an accomplished print maker and experimented with wood cutting and ceramics.

7. No 2 Blue Red Green – Mark Rothco

Mark Rothco was essentially an abstract expressionist painter who’s initial works that were inspired heavily by mythology and philosophy gave way later to works that were based on large portions of colors which were often washed.

These washed canvases often with only three colors on them would become his signature works and his name will always be synonymous with the style.

His work fits squarely into that of a color field painter and although he ever considered himself as one his paintings are routinely used as examples of the genre.

Rothco’s earlier works were full lighter tones but as his age progressed and his mental health declined his color palette moved from light to a mush darker tones.

No 2 Blue Red Green can be seen as a transition between his light and dark phase.

8. Interchange – Willem de Kooning

Interchange is one of the first landscape paintings by Dutch-American artist Willem de Kooning.

It is most notable as it is one of the most expensive abstract painting to ever change hands.

In an off market sale David Geffen of Geffen Records sold the piece to billionaire hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin for a reported $300 million in 2015 which was at the time the highest recorded price for any painting in modern times.

It was then only eclipsed by Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in 2017.

Prior to this piece de Kooning had focused much of his art on female figures and Interchange was the first major departure into more landscape or architecture based compositions.

9. Black Iris – Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe works have become some of the most discussed and analyzed abstract paintings of all time.

Much to her chagrin the painting was interpreted as a metaphor for female genitalia by art historian Linda Nochlin.

So much so did the artist resent the interpretation that in her subsequent exhibition she submitted an accompanying text that read:

“Well—I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower—and I don’t.”

The association however has been almost impossible to shake and her abstract artworks will almost always be associated with the female private parts.

10. Abstract Painting 726 – Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter painted Abstract Painting (726) in 1990 and is a diptych that comprises of two sections of canvas.

The painting consists of horizontal forms that are comprised of most prominently white, red and orange.

Richter throughout his career would after a time go back to older pieces and change them sometimes considerably from the original image.

Abstract Painting (726) is one such piece of art and not only was it dulled down by Richter but the artist also added several vertical scratches.

The result is work that looks like an underlying image that has been blurred and the viewer is left to their ow interpretation to find meaning.

We hope you have enjoyed this list of famous abstract paintings which we will hope enable you to become more familiar with the movement and it’s main artworks.

19 Famous Impressionism Paintings

Some of the most famous impressionism paintings have become images that have been etched in to the public consciousness.

However the were not well received by the critics of the day.

The members of the impressionism movement distinguished themselves from more traditional art forms so much so that the initial reaction to the majority of impressionist paintings was highly negative.

Despite the initial rejection of their artwork the artists persevered and now some of the pieces are considered to be some of the most famous paintings ever produced.

Famous Impressionism Paintings

1. Impression Sunrise

Impression Sunrise

Arguably the most famous of all impressionist paintings is Impression Sunrise by Claude Monet is responsible for the actual name Impressionism.

Monet painted six separate canvases that depicted the port of Le Havre, France which is actually his home town.

Impression Sunrise is the most famous of the series and was first displayed along with works by other artists in 1874, critically this new style of artwork had numerous critics.

The group of what become the most famous impressionist artists in question were resolutely rejected from the Paris Salon which drove them to create their own exhibition to showcase their work.

The work was said to typify the new art movement and it’s name is now synonymous with the style.

Ironically it does not embrace a lot of the style of impressionist artworks as it displays a very restrained use of color and brush strokes.

2. The Starry Night

the starry night

The Starry Night by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh is considered one of his most famous and the image is instantly recognizable.

Although Van Gogh would technically be considered a post-impressionist painter much of his work is still aligned squarely with the movement.

When Van Gogh painted Starry Night he was in the asylum Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Remy-de-Provence at the time he had been suffering from paranoia and severe bouts of depression.

The scene is actually the view from the east facing window with the town added as what he had imagined an image of the ‘ideal village’ right before sunrise.

3. Luncheon of the Boating Party

In the Luncheon of the Boating Party Pierre-Auguste Renoir displayed three of his favored styles of working: en plein air setting, portraiture and still life a combined with the painters refined brush work and exquisite color palette.

Not only is it Renoir’s most famous paintings it is also one of his largest measuring 129.9cm x 172.7cm.

It actually features the artists friends and his future wife enjoying lunch on a balcony at the restaurant Maison Fournaise on the banks of the Seine in Chatou, France.

The hand rail serves as a cut off point between the more empty left upper side of the picture which contains the river bank and the right hand side which is densely populated with figures.

4. Water Lilies

Throughout his life Monet painted several series of works that focused on a particular theme or subject matter.

Haystacks was one such series, however it is his large catalogue of water lilies that really stand out.

During his last thirty or so years of life Monet spent most of his time devoted to capturing the lilies in his pond garden at his house in Giverny.

One such piece which is the largest tends to stand out as one of the best works of art that he is strongly noted for: Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond.

It is widely considered one of the finest impressionism examples.

It is one of the largest canvases of the movement ever produced and measures a gargantuan 200 × 1276 cm laid out as a triptych each panel is 200cm x 424.8 cm.

It is a part of an installation in the Musee de l’Orangerie where eight compositions hand are set out in two consecutive oval rooms allowing the viewer to be almost completely immersed in some of the most famous Monet paintings.

5. A Bar at the Folies-Bergere

Édouard Manet died of syphilis  at the age of 51 a year earlier in 1882 he completed A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and it depicts one of the types of scenes that he would become known for namely every day leisure scenes.

It is actually the artists final large work and many consider it to be one of his best.

The image has often posed more questions than it answered as the perspective created by the mirror has been heavily debated as to it’s accuracy.

6. L’Absinthe

Degas painted L’Absinthe roughly around 1875 initially it was absolutely panned by critics and went back into storage several times.

The scene features a man and a woman in seated in a cafe drinking a glass of absinthe their expressions appear lethargic and sad.

For a women to be sat in a cafe drinking absinthe at the time was considered immoral, and many British critics at the time were outraged by the work of art.

Degas unlike a lot of impressionist preferred more urban setting for his painting and the female model in the picture is also featured in his other works Plum Brandy and Chez le père Lathuille.

7. The Card Players

There are five paintings in the series of card players by Paul Cezanne which were completed in the early 1890’s.

Most of the individual paintings feature roughly the same scene with all of the characters playing cars with there eyes firmly fixated on the cards.

The works can be almost considered studies in still life with human objects as there is a very real lack of movement or life in any of the images.

The largest canvas features five people in it, with three players in the foreground and two on lookers behind them.

Cezanne created dozens of exploratory sketches for the series many of which can be found in art galleries all over the world.

8. Dance at Le Moulin De La Galette 

Dance at Le Moulin De La Galette

Dance at Le moulin de la Galette is one of Renoir’s finest works and is considered one of the most recognizable famous impressionist artworks ever created.

Yet again the artist favors everyday scenes from French life and yet again his friends are some of the models in the work rather than strangers.

A somewhat brighter yet smaller picture of the exact same scene was painted by Renoir and this painting is believed to reside in a private collection in Switzerland.

9. The Floor Scrapers

The Floor Scrapers was painted by Gustave Caillebotte in 1875 and one of the few artworks of the style to make strong use of perspective and natural light.

The piece of art was not very well received by the art establishment of the day as it was rejected from the Paris Salon in 1875.

The reason it was rejected was the subject matter of the scene.

Three topless working class men are the focus of the painting and at the time both working class people executing their trade and the thought of a male being seen topless was considered vulgar by critics and the public alike.

10. Paris Street, Rainy Day

Another one of Gustave Caillebote’s works Paris Street Rainy Day is easily his best impressionism painting.

As an painter he has always remained completely overshadowed by his contemporaries even though his work is on a par with some of the best impressionists.

Just like in The Floor Scrapers the artist makes great use of perspective to draw the viewers eye directly to the center of the building in the background.

11. The Dance Class

Degas painted a series of works that focused on ballet or more importantly on the practice and teaching of ballet.

Most of the scenes were in fact imaginary yet they contained people that had a name in the world of ballet.

One of the more complex pieces that Degas produced, it has more than twenty characters contained within it.

The famous ballet conductor Jules Perrot is the instructor in the scene and is a pivotal character the the eye is drawn to.

12. The Avenue in the Rain

Although most impressionist paintings are attributed to French artists there are still some other artists of note that are not French.

The American artist Childe Hassam is known for a series of works that feature the America flag decorating various streets.

Hassam has six pieces of art that belong to the permanent collection of the White House in Washington DC.

This piece in particular has been hung in the oval office for the past three presidential terms.

At the time of the painting there was a sense of growing patriotism in the USA as it was several years before the outbreak of world war one and flags would be routinely hung on some of the biggest streets in America.

13. Le Boulevard Montmartre

Pissaro was a major proponent of en plein air or outside painting of landscapes.

This was one of the major impressionist painting techniques that set them apart from other genres as capturing the natural light was crucial.

Towards the end of his life due to failing health he was forced to paint scenes from indoors many of which were of the Boulevart Montmartre painting the street in both night and day versions.

The painting is less concerned with the structure of the street and more so with the interplay of light.

This is one of the reasons why Pissaro would make several versions of his work including at night.

14. The Swing

The Swing

The Swing was painted by Renoir in parallel with The Dance at the Moulin de la Galette during the summer of 1876, at his studio in Montmartre.

He is said to have divided his day between the two, focusing on The Swing in the morning and The Dance in the afternoon, presumably due to the different lighting conditions that each part of the day offered.

Like a lot of Renoir’s work it features people that he actually new as his models. His brother Edmond, Jeanne a young woman from Montmartre and the painter Norbert Goenutte.

Both paintings have a very carefree feeling about them and Renoir would have this type of happy idyllic theme in a lot of his work, in fact he rarely if ever painted a sad image.

With both paintings Renoir sought to capture how light moves as it is filtered through the foliage from the trees above.

15. Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge

The Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge was painted by Claude Monet sometime between between 1897 and 1899.

The Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge was painted by Claude Monet sometime between between 1897 and 1899.

Throughout Monet’s earlier life like a lot of the first impressionists he struggled to find a footing as a professional artist.

The impressionists were largely rejected when they initially displayed their work, it would take several years for them to find favor with the Parisian art market and as a result many of them lived through a lot of austerity.

However, once their new art movement was accepted and celebrated their fortunes started to turn and Monet would finally have financial security in his later life.

This allowed him to purchase his own house which he had been renting for several years in Giverny with land and convert the land into one of the most spectacular water gardens around.

The Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge is unusual in it’s more vertically orientated format.

The shape of the canvas allowed Monet to create a real sense of depth as the viewer is drawn into the image with the Japanese bridge being the focal point.

Like a lot of his paintings of his garden it forms a series of similar works, with 12 of the Japanese bridge being completed.

16. Sunset at Ivry

Although Armand Guillaumin is one of the lesser known French Impressionists his work is still of considerable note due to the amount of vibrant color he would use in comparison to the majority of other impressionists at the time.

He was close friends with Camille Pissarro and Paul Cezanne both of which he met at the Académie Suisse where he studied from 1861.

He is best known for his landscapes and the use of bold colors in contrast to darker shadow’s that certain elements of the scenes cast.

The major element of the Sunset at Ivry is the evening sunset and how it effects the light and color of everything it touches.

The scene beautifully captures the transition from day to night with the silhouettes of industrial chimneys adding movement by way of the smoke that they give off.

17. La Chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes

La Chemin de la Machine was painted by Alfred Sisley in 1873 and is one of the finest examples of en plein air painting.

Both Sisley and Monet would remain faithful to painting outside using the natural yet ever changing light conditions that the movement of the sun would produce as it moved through the sky over the course of the day and the seasons.

Like most of his work La Chemin de la Machine deals uses a very soft and delicate color palette and the focal point of the painting is the disappearing road off into the distance.

This type of focal point was something that Sisley would use time and time again whether it be a road or a river.

A row of evenly planted trees encompass the side of the road which was and still is to this day a very common scene in small towns across France, which Sisley captures in an almost timeless sense.

His sky is considerably lighter than those that Monet would paint and his later work would start to be influenced heavily by Monet with the sky being the most noticeable progression in his work.

18. Monet’s Haystacks Series

Claude Monet more than any other member of the impressionist would devote considerable time and energy into painting the same scene multiple times.

He has several famous paintings of water lilies, haystacks and cathedrals all of which have sometimes up 20 paintings in the series of each type of work.

The Haystacks series are a masterclass in color and light and in particular how the relationship light to the subject matter changes throughout the day and the seasons.

Monet would routinely have up to ten different canvases transported to the fields close to his home in Giverny were he would paint the same group or individual haystacks.

Some would be painted early in the day and more would focus on the evening light, several were also painted in the winter.

Monet would work on one canvas until the light changed and then work on the next canvas that suited the current lighting conditions.

Some of the works would be finished in his studio at his home once the preliminary works were carried out but the bulk were painted out in the countryside.

19. At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance

At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance was painted by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in 1890.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted this scene several times and it depicts a fairly common scene in the Moulin Rouge at the time with lively revelers enjoying a dance.

De Toulouse-Lautrec made very deliberate use of color in his work and he used it to great effect to draw the eye naturally through the canvas.

The pink of the woman in the foreground forms a near straight diagonal line to the red tights of the dancer back to the red hair and coat of the waiter in the background.

He conveyed a strong sense of movement and the viewer is almost transported back in time as if they were there.

Impressionism Paintings

The impressionism paintings featured above heralded in a bold new movement in the art world.

Following on from realism the impressionist aimed to break away from the more traditional imagery in art that would mostly depict the rich and powerful or religious scenes.

They aimed to capture the ordinary scenes and people of everyday life that surrounded them in both the countryside and the urban scenes of the larger French cities namely Paris.

The impressionist sought to deal with color and it’s relationship with light as the major component of their work.

For the first time a large number of canvases were painted outside or en plein air as natural light was considered the best way to explore how light and shadow interacted on the landscape.

Everyday life in the countryside was championed and celebrated, so too was the common man.

Impressionism should be see as one of the most important art movements ever and in many ways was the first true modern art.

Gone were the great historical scenes of old and the portraits of kings and noblemen to be replaced with nothing more than what the artists saw in the world all around them.

Their work had a much looser and lighter brushwork that allowed them to paint an “impression” of the image with particular focus on how light interacted which the world around it.

The majority of the work was oil on canvas, later members of the movement would branch out into pointillism and other such techniques but it was the slow drying oil paint with brush that was most commonly used.

This collections of impressionism paintings although not exhaustive covers the some of the most popular and easily recognizable of the genre

The 10 Most Famous Monet Paintings

Claude Monet was born in 1840 in Paris France, some of the most famous Monet Paintings are centered around the use of light in the open country side or en plein air.

Monet’s Paintings would go on to exemplify the impressionist movement of which he is considered a founding member.

Below is a list of famous Monet paintings although not exhaustive it covers the artist most important works many of whom are series of paintings rather than individual.

Famous Monet Paintings

1. Impression Sunrise

Impression Sunrise

It could be argued that Impression Sunrise of all of the artists work is the most famous Monet painting.

Despite his much loved series of work such as Water Lilies it is Impression Sunrise that launched no only Monet but the entire impressionist movement to fame.

Initially the impressionist and their art was not well received by the Paris art establishment.

With one famous critic of the time Louis Leroy suggesting that wallpaper was in more of a finished state than Monet’s paintings.

They were so resolutely rejected that it drove the group of artists to hold their own exhibition after being rejected from the Paris Salon in 1874.

Impression Sunrise is the painting that inspired the name of the new movement we have also featured it in our list of the 100 most famous paintings along with other impressionist works.

Ironically it is actually not an great example of impressionism as it has a much more restrained use of brush strokes and more muted colors than the art that one go on to personify the movement.

2. Water Lilies

water lilies

Next to Impression Sunrise the series of paintings that Monet is mostly famous for would be the Water Lilies.

The Water Lilies series spans some 250 pieces of art of varying sizes.

For the last 30 or so years of his life Monet spent considerable time painting en plein air in his garden in Giverny.

In his garden there was a large pond filled with water lilies and a small bridge across it.

Monet would spend considerable time and energy on painting the pond with considerable focus on the water lilies.

Some of the larger works of the series would become one of the famous impressionist paintings ever.

In the 1920’s the French government built a matching pair of oval rooms in the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris that has become a permanent installation of eight of Monet’s murals of Water Lilies, the artist sadly died but a few short months after it’s opening.

Monet painted several series of paintings that focused on the same subject matter but it is Water Lilies that he we be most remembered for.

3. The Thames Below Westminster

Along with other famous impressionist artists Daubigny and Pissarro Monet and his family moved to London to flee the Franco-Prussian War from 1870 to 1871.

During this time he would have a fairly unproductive spell in his career as he only painted a few paintings which centered around the Thames and Green park and Hyde Park.

It is the Thames Below Westminster that is considered his best work from the city.

The painting depicts London on a foggy day, with which the artist would later say that only in fog is London a beautiful city and this is why only in winter does he truly appreciate it.

Westminster dominate the right hand side of the image with Westminster bridge creates a horizontal vocal point between the sky and the river.

Other great Monet works in the series feature pictures of the Houses of Parliament painted in a similar style with some of the canvas only started in London and were later finished in his house in Giverny after returning to France.

4. Haystacks

Another one of Monet’s series of en plein air paintings the Haystacks(Les Meules à Giverny, original titles) were painted close to his house in Giverny.

The series consists of 25 paintings which the artist began towards the end of the summer in 1890.

A similar scene is painted in each piece however Monet varied the times and day and the weather conditions as a way to capture how natural light changed significantly the subject throughout the days and weeks.

Although many of the canvases were started outside, Monet soon realized that he could not capture each painting as he wanted given that the light changed so quickly.

He started on two canvases one day and had to request his helper to bring more such was the change in light.

As the weeks progressed he would have many of the unfinished canvas returned to the location so that he could choose which work matched the given light conditions on the day allowing him to finish or progress it to nearer completion.

Some of the works were finished at his home in his studio where he had better control of the light.

5. Rouen Cathedral

Just like the series of haystacks above Monet would paint the cathedral of Rouen in Normandy at differing times of the year and the day.

The artist created a temporary studio across the street from the cathedral in rented rooms.

Many of which were reworked in his studio at home at a later date.

Just over thirty pieces were completed and all focus on the facade of the cathedral which was famous for it’s Gothic style of architecture.

They were a departure from his more landscapes focused works to more permanent urban structures and their relationship with light, color and shadow.

6. Woman with a Parasol

One of Monet’s lighter canvases Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son depicts both his wife an son Camille and Jean on a windy summer’s day some where near their house when they lived in Argenteuil.

During their stay in Argenteuil Monet had one of his most productive periods which signified a move away from purely landscape pictures to more involved works that contained multiple figures.

Both his wife son appear to have been captured in a very brief moment despite the fact that the initial work probably took all day to complete.

It is Monet animated brushstrokes and vibrant colors that really help to bring life to the painting.

The artists assumed a very low viewpoint in the image and the sense of perspective allows the viewer to see the image as if they where looking up whilst sitting on the ground in front of his wife.

7. San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk

Monet and his wife only made one visit to Venice and had no real intention of working whilst on the trip.

However, the views from his hotel of the San Giorgio Maggiore and the splendid sunsets that he deemed unique in the world with the monastery as a silhouette in front of it.

The are six paintings in the series all of which are painted in varying lighting conditions.

The majority of which were painted from his hotel room as the artists disliked working in crowds.

This piece however from it’s perspective would appear to have been painted from the waterfront.

Monet finished very few of the works whilst in Venice and instead choose to finish them at his home in Giverny much was the artists usual practice at the time.

One of the reasons for this was that the time to finish a painting to completion would span many different lighting conditions as the sun moved throughout the sky and Monet was only interested in capturing a certain light.

8. The Artist’s Garden at Giverny

Towards the end of his later life Monet spent considerable time in his garden famously painting his Lilies series, yet there are still other notable works by the artist of other parts of the garden.

The Artist’s Garden at Giverny was the result of years of cultivation and great care and attention was given to what flowers and plants were painted where and how each others colors would relate to each other.

The flowers in question are Iris’s in varying colors of pink and purple planted below trees which offer varying amounts of shade and light to fall through onto the flowers.

Van Gogh is also famous for his work with the Iris flower but the two works are very different in their composition.

9. The Poppy Field

After returning from London in 1873 Monet and his family settled in Argenteuil were he would return to painting landscapes of which The Poppy Field is one of his most famous.

Whereas in later life Monet would favor his garden in Giverny his time spent in Argenteuil would allow him to embrace en plein air painting in and around the country side.

The Poppy Field was painted roughly around the same time as Impression Sunrise before the first impressionist exhibition.

In the scene Claude Monet takes a rather ordinary landscape with what is believed to be his wife and son and transforms it to a master class in the restrained use of color.

Whilst the greens, browns and blues are subdued it is the use of red that dominates the entire lower left hand side of the painting.

10. The Woman in the Green Dress

Although Claude Monet is best known for his impressionist works before he was famous and the movement had gained a foot hold he was still a very skillful realist painter.

Monet was actually working on a very large canvas(Luncheon on the Grass) but the piece would not have been finished in time for it to be included in the 1866 Paris Salon.

Upon the request of his close friend Gustave Courbet he was urged to paint something quickly and in a single go so that he could submit something to the Salon.

Monet painted Camille who would later become his first wife.

At the time full length portraits were usually reserved for royalty or nobility and such a portrait was seen as somewhat unconventional.

The painting was actually very well received at the time and sold for the amount of 800 francs which at the time would have been a princely sum of money for the struggling artist and his lover.

As an impressionist artist Monet name stands among the greats he is attributed as a founding member and driving force of the movement.

We hope you have enjoyed this list of famous Monet paintings.