Despite the large number of paintings in museums and art galleries in the world, only a few paintings have been recognized as true classics, some of them transcending time to become true treasures of our humanity.
But what makes a painting famous, the author, the period or the criticism? At Kuadros we have made a selection of the most famous paintings in history.
Famous Painting Number 1: The Mona Lisa - Leonardo Da Vinci - 1503–19
The most famous painting in the world is that of a woman with an enigmatic smile. This portrait has two unanswered questions: Who is the subject and why is he smiling?
There are theories that try to dispel doubts: that she is the wife of the Florentine merchant Francesco di Bartolomeo del Giocondo; another theory indicates that the painting represents Leonardo's mother, Caterina; and finally, that it is a self-portrait of the master.
About the smile Sigmund Freud once said that he thought that the mysterious gesture of the Mona Lisa came from a memory, perhaps unconscious, of Caterina's smile, but experts are not sure.
The famous painting is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris, where it continues to be admired to this day.
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Famous Painting Number 2: The Last Supper - Leonardo Da Vinci - 1495-1498
Leonardo Da Vinci managed to express in a single famous painting the great unknown that entered the minds of the apostles to know who will betray their Master.
Leonardo Da Vinci is the only artist to appear on this list of famous paintings twice. The Last Supper represents the last time that Jesus broke bread with his disciples before his crucifixion.
The famous painting has survived two threats of war: Napoleon's troops used the wall of the refectory on which the fresco was painted for target practice. It was also exposed to the air for several years when World War II bombing destroyed the roof of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.
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Famous painting number 3: The Girl with the Pearl Earring - Johannes Vermeer - 1665
Johannes Vermeer 's 1665 study, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, was made on a young woman. This famous painting is surprisingly real and surprisingly modern, almost like a photograph. The model is unknown, although it has been speculated that the subject could have been Vermeer's maid.
The master depicts her looking over his shoulder, connecting with the viewer as if trying to establish an intimate connection across the centuries.
Along with Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer was a master of light. This is shown in this famous painting, in the softness of the girl's face and the sparkles of light on her moist lips. And of course the famous sparkling pearl.
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Famous Painting Number 4: The Birth of Venus - Sandro Botticelli - 1484-1486
The Birth of Venus is a famous painting that shows the goddess of love and beauty coming to earth, on the island of Cyprus, born from the spray of the sea and carried by the winds.
The goddess is standing on a giant shell, as pure and perfect as a pearl. Of obvious importance in this painting is the nudity of Venus. Sandro Botticelli painted a dark line around the contours of her body and this made it easier to see her body shapes against the background, emphasizing her milky skin color.
The theme of The Birth of Venus was taken from the writings of the ancient poet Homer. Although not a famous painting that employed innovations of Renaissance perspective, the elegance of the classical subject matter was something that would have intrigued the wealthy Florentines who patronized this type of work.
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Famous Painting Number 5: The Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh - 1889
The Starry Night is one of the most recognized famous paintings in the world.
It is a magnificent work of art and the fact that it resonates with so many people is a testament to how timeless and universal its beauty is.
Van Gogh had conceived of the blue night sky dotted with yellow stars for many months before painting The Starry Night. The painting presented some technical challenges that he wished to address: the use of contrasting color and the complications of painting outdoors at night, a subject that was repeatedly mentioned in letters to family and friends as a promising but problematic issue.
Arguably, this famous painting is a blend of invention, memory, and observation combined with Van Gogh's use of boldly contrasting shapes and colors. This combination has made the work as compelling for later generations of viewers as it is for other artists.
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Famous Painting Number 6: The Scream - Edvard Munch - 1893
The Scream , the glory of Edward Munch , is much more than a famous painting, it is truly an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time.
While Leonardo da Vinci evoked a Renaissance ideal of serenity and self-control, Munch defined how we live in our modernity, shaken by anxiety and uncertainty. The painting of a twisted, sexless, fetus-faced creature with open mouth and eyes was prompted by a vision that had seized him while walking one night in his youth with two friends at sunset. As he himself later recounted, the "air turned to blood" and the "faces of my comrades turned yellowish-white." Vibrating in his ears was heard "a huge infinite scream that goes through nature."
One of the reasons the famous painting The Scream is still so relevant is because of its universal significance. Any human being on this planet can look at El Grito and still feel something.
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Famous Painting Number 7: The Kiss - Gustav Klimt - 1907 - 1908
Gustavo Klimt 's Kiss goes beyond being a famous painting, it is the archetype in art of tenderness and passion.
This bright and colorful love scene represents the height of his golden period, where his father's occupation as a goldsmith sparked his taste for the mineral.
In the painting both figures are symbolically blended in a golden state of perfection. The dominant masculine force is represented by the powerful layer of black and gray masculine blocks, softened by the feminine figure. Through two figures covered in densely patterned fabrics, Klimt managed to evoke a moment of intense sensual pleasure.
Klimt painted The Kiss at a critical moment in his career: in the midst of an artistic panic. He had just received scathing reviews for his philosophy, medicine, and jurisprudence paintings from the University of Vienna.
In this famous painting from the early 20th century, Klimt was making a general allegorical statement about love as a central element of human existence. The Austrian state purchased the Kiss for the recently founded Moderne Galerie, and the painting has been in the Belvedere's collections ever since.
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Famous painting number 8: Las Meninas - Diego Velázquez - 1656
For more than 350 years, art lovers have been fascinated by Las Meninas. This famous oil painting by Diego Velázquez is a lavishly nuanced depiction of life at the court of King Philip IV of Spain. Las Meninas is perhaps one of the most important paintings in all of Western art history, still influencing artists today.
The large canvas shows Margaret Theresa, the king's daughter, surrounded by her entourage as Velázquez stands behind an easel painting her portrait. Las Meninas is a group portrait set in a specific location and populated with identifiable figures. The aesthetic values of painting are evident: the stage is one of the most realistic spaces in Western art.
The famous painting Las Meninas shows a complex and fun game between painter, model and viewer. Who is looking at who? And because? It is an unsolved mystery that delights art lovers.
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Famous painting number 9: The Creation Of Adam - Michelangelo - 1508 - 1512
Renowned artist Michelangelo's most famous work is a famous painting that covers a section of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - you have to look up to see it.
The scene represents God and Adam with their arms outstretched and their fingers almost touching. God creates Adam and points to the Christ child as Adam's savior. It could be said that this is a very intimate portrait of God in which he is shown in a state that is not untouchable and remote from Man, but accessible to him.
Michelangelo created four panels within the Sistine Chapel, depicting episodes from the Christian book of Genesis and these excerpts are still well known among the continuing population of Christians that remains large throughout Europe and across much of most other continents. .
The Creation of Adam has become a famous painting, an iconic image that almost everyone recognizes, without necessarily knowing who the original artist was or what the actual meaning of the piece was.
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Famous Painting Number 10: The Arnolfini Portrait - Jan van Eyck - 1434
The Arnolfini Portrait is one of the most famous and intriguing paintings in the world.
A richly dressed man and woman meet in a private room. In the mirror we see four people: the Arnolfini couple and two other figures. Various details suggest that this is a wedding portrait, but there is no consensus on this. In the Middle Ages, it was customary to celebrate a wedding in a limited circle, with two witnesses and no priest. A candle burns in the candlestick. This may refer to the eye of God or the wedding flame. The dog in front represents fidelity, marital fidelity and commitment of partners to each other.
Many people mistakenly believe that Mrs. Arnolfini is pregnant. She takes part of her robe with her left hand, apparently to better display her large belly to the viewer. It's "normal" for her to have a big belly. In the late Middle Ages, it was fashionable to have a big belly.
This famous painting is one of the first interior depictions to use orthogonal perspective to create a sense of space that appears contiguous to the viewer, the viewer feels like a place that can be entered.
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