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.
Whereas the haystacks painting were much larger scenes and often contained the horizon, rolling countryside and tree lines in the distance.
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.
The bulk of the 25 pieces in Monet’s Haystacks series now reside in public galleries rather than private collections.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 artists of the time.
However, all of his works are a considered true master pieces which is an accolade that is bestowed on very few artists.
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.
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 allows the artists 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Sistine Madonna was one of Raphael’s last great works of renaissance art, the artist 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.
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.
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.
The Assumption of the Virgin also known as the Frari assumption is a painting by renaissance artist 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.
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 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 artists 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.
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.
Some of the most famous impressionist 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 impressionist 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 work the impressionist persevered and now some of the pieces are considered to be some of the most famous paintings ever produced.
Arguably the most famous of all impressionist paintings 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 impressionist in 1874, critically this new style of painting 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 art works as it displays a very restrained use of color and brush strokes.
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 impressionist 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.
In the Luncheon of the Boating Party Pierre-Auguste Renoir displayed three of his favored styles of painting: en plein air setting, portraiture and still life a combined with the artists 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.
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 painting 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 impressionist 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 impressionism paintings 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.
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.
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 painting.
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.
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 paintings 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 painting 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.
Dance at Le moulin de la Galette is one of Renoir’s finest works and is considered one of the most famous impressionist paintings ever created.
Yet again the artist favors everyday scenes from French life and yet again his friends are some of the models in the painting 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.
The Floor Scrapers was painted by Gustave Caillebotte in 1875 and one of the few impressionist paintings to make strong use of perspective and natural light.
The painting 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 painting.
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.
Another one of Gustave Caillebote’s works Paris Street Rainy Day is easily his best known impressionist painting.
As an artist 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.
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.
Although most impressionist paintings are attributed to French artists there are still some other artists of note that are not French.
The American impressionist 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.
Pissaro was a major proponent of en plein air or outside painting of landscapes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most famous paintings in the world are the result of both raw natural talent and genius but each work also contains an interesting back story.
Each piece of art work in the list of famous paintings is considered to be some of the artists finest work and are shining examples of their particular genre of art.
Throughout history the debate as to which is the greatest painting ever produced has raged without agreement.
At it’s core art is a subject medium that means may different things to many different people and because of this there never will be a definitive list.
Below you will find what we consider to the the best paintings of all time.
The most famous painting of arguably the most famous artist that ever lived, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is said to have one of the most realistic and captivating smiles ever painted.
Such is the draw of her smile that there are ques at the Louvre just to get a glimpse of it.
The painting is believed to be of Lisa Gherardini and is a half height portrait.
Considered a masterpiece within art circles it only truly gained notoriety with the general public after it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 by an Italian employee named Peruggia.
Peruggia as a patriot of Italy believed that the master piece should by returned to Italy and hang in an Italian public gallery not in a French one.
It also holds the record for the most expensive insurance valuation at $100 million as far back as 1962.
Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ originally titled ‘The Scream of Nature’ has become a symbol of anxiety and is one of the most iconic images ever produced.
Munch actually created four versions of the painting two in paint and two in pastel.
He was inspired whilst out for an evening walk with friends and recalled viewing the setting sun when all of a sudden:
‘the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.‘
Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ is easily the most famous wall mural ever painted and it resides in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazia in Milan, Italy.
If portrays the scene of the last supper of Jesus and the twelve apostles.
Leonardo did not use a more traditional fresco technique for The Last Supper as he favored oil as a medium which allows an artist to work more slowly as oil has a longer drying time.
As a result of this he had to seal the wall beneath with a double layer of gesso, mastic and pitch.
Very little of the original is actually left as it has been restored numerous times and has suffered at the hands of both intentional damage and environmental factors.
The Girl With a Pearl Earring is thought to have been painted by Vermeer in 1665. It is known as a tronie which is a Dutch word from the 17th century which roughly translates as a head or mug shot and is not intended to be a conventional portrait.
Modern analysis of the painting has shown that the current black background had originally a deep green which was achieved by applying a green glaze over the black under layer, the green glaze has long since faded.
Regardless the girl is still considered a timeless beauty and it is one of the most famous paintings of all time.
The Italian renaissance painter Botticelli is believed to have painted The Birth of Venus some time in and around the mid 1480’s.
It shows the Roman goddess Venus arriving at the shore having been born fully grown at sea.
It is considered one of the most famous works of art to depict a mythological image the other being the artists other work the Primavera.
Both pieces of art are said to be commissioned by the Medici family, one of the most powerful banking dynasties of the time in Florence.
There are actually twelve Sunflowers paintings produced by Van Gogh split between his time in Paris and Arles.
The first set which where painted in Paris have the sunflowers arranged in a vase with some of the flowers laying flat on a surface or table top whereas it is the later paintings that where finished in Arles are contained in vases in an arranged fashion and stand upright.
The yellow oil paint that is used in the later works was only newly available to artists and Van Gogh embraced these new vibrant shades of yellow in his work.
Gustav Klimt painted The Kiss roughly around 1907. It is predominantly oil on canvas however it is a mixed medium painting as it contains gold leaf, platinum and silver.
A rather large piece of art it measures 180cm x 180cm and currently hangs in Vienna’s Austrian gallery.
It is considered one of the best pieces that represents the Symbolism movement or genre of art.
During what is considered Klimt’s Golden Period that artists made use of gold leaf to add a rather delicate yet glimmering appearance.
Impression Sunrise was painted by Claude Monet which depicts his home town of the port of Le Havre in France.
It has long been considered the painting that inspired the naming of the impressionist movement.
Along with some of the biggest names in impressionism at the time Monet was rejected from the Paris Salon, after which the artists organized their own exhibition to display their art.
They had mixed reviews with some visitors claimed that they could not distinguish what the paintings were trying to depict.
Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam adorns the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican it is considered the finest work of art ever painted in the fresco style.
It took the artist over four years to complete the work whislt working for hours on end on his back on scaffolding.
The total area of the fresco is roughly 500 square meters and contains over 300 figures. The central line of the ceiling contains nine episodes from the book of Genesis.
Along with the last supper it is one of the most recognizable religious works of art ever produced.
Pablo Picasso painted Guernica as an anti-war protest against the bombing of the town Guernica by Nazi and fascist Italian forces which was requested by the Spanish Nationalist forces.
It was painted in 1937 and is not only one of Piccaso’s best known art works it is also one of his largest measuring 3.49m x 7.76m.
It was initially displayed at the 1937 Paris International Exposition after the Spanish Republican government requested Picasso for a piece to display at the Spanish pavilion of the 1937 Paris World’s Fair.
Subsequent to that it was sent on a world tour and the funds raised from the tour were helped fund the Spanish war relief.
Van Gogh spent time in the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Remy-de-Provence suffering from bouts of depression and paranoia.
It was during this time that he painted The Starry Night which was the view from his east facing window in the asylum.
The image represents his vision of an ideal village just before sunrise.
His stay at the asylum was a time when ho produced some of his most famous paintings such as Irises and his blue self-portrait.
The Night Watch was painted in 1642 by Rembrandt van Rijn and is a very famous art work for three distinct reasons.
Traditionally military paintings or group portraits in general would be quite static scenes with little or no movement in them.
The Night Watch however depicts the civic militia guards led by Captain Banning Cocq hurriedly preparing to march out.
Secondly it’s size is also of particular note, as it measures a colossal 3.63m x 4.37m
Thirdly it is notable for it’s dramatic use of sunlight and shade to draw the eye to the central most characters in the scene.
Few works of art have remained a mystery as to the original intent of the artist.
Las Meninas(The Ladies-in-waiting) was painted by Diego Velazquez in 1656 and depicts a scene from the Spanish court of which Velazquez held the position of palace chamberlain.
The scene has somewhat baffled art historians as it contains a truly odd cast of characters which includes the artist himself, a nun, a dwarf and a princess.
It was considered a break from more formal royal portraiture that usually has only the royal family featured and arranged in a much more ordered and hierarchical fashion.
The Dance at Le Moulin De La Galette is considered Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s finest work and is a snapshot of the regular Sunday gathering by ordinary Parisians at the Moulin de la Galette.
A smaller almost identical version was also painted by the artist and is believed to be in a private collection in Switzerland it is believed to be near identical to the larger but with more brighter colors used.
Interestingly the characters at the table on the left of the painting are actually Renoir’s friends and not some random strangers.
Considered by many to be one of the most important proto-cubist(a transitional phase between more traditional forms of art and the establishment of Cubism) works be Picasso.
It created great controversy when first produced and received very mixed reviews even from some of Picasso’s closest friends such as Matisse who considered the work to be somewhat of a bad joke.
It was first exhibited in 1916 and was considered immoral by many at the time.
The Persistence of Memory was pained by Salvador Dali in 1931 and is an image that most people usually associate with the surrealism movement.
Hard objects appear to melt or go limp and time which is represented by the watches starts to decay.
It is one of his first works where he used his ‘paranoid-critical’ technique where he projects his own phobias after experiencing self-induced hallucinations.
The image has been reproduced countless times as small prints, postcards and wall posters.
Van Gogh painted Cafe Terrace at Night in 1888 and depicts an evening cafe scene in the town of Arles, France where visitors to this day can travel and experience the same view as the artist from the corner of Pace du Forum.
The deep blue of the background and the warmer yellows of the cafe(which was artificially lit with gas lights) creates a sharp contrast.
The work is actually unsigned by Van Gogh, however he did mention it in at least three pieces of correspondence one of which was to his sister which has been used to verify that the work is his.
American Gothic is a one of the most famous works of American art and was painted in 1930 by Grant Wood.
The image depicts what Woods imagined would be “the kind of people [he] fancied should live in that house” based on rural life in Iowa.
The “Gothic” reference in the title of the painting relates to the style of the house “Carpenter Gothic” which is made apparent by the Gothic style window which adorns an otherwise seemingly very basic looking timber framed farm house.
The image has been parodied numerous times in various forms down through the years yet it is instantly recognizable as one of American arts most important works.
The Old Guitarist was painted in what is considered Picasso’s “blue” period where the artists works where created in very sombre shades of blue and grey.
During this period the artist pained many images of the poor and downtrodden a situation in which he was all too familiar.
It was painted in 1903 following the death of one of Picasso’s closest friends by way of suicide.
An x-ray by the Art Institute of Chicago revealed that there are several under-painted images one of which is a ghostly looking woman’s head that leans to the left.
One of Raphael’s finest fresco’s The School of Athens is said to contain almost every important Greek philosophers.
It was painted between 1509 and 1511 in the Apostolic Palace, one of four rooms that are adorned by Raphael’s fresco’s each of which are stunning examples of High Renaissance art.
Of particular note is the use of perspective projection a technique that Raphael learned from Da Vinci.