5 Most Famous Paintings of All Time

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Whether you like modern Aboriginal art, impressionist paintings, or surrealism, the beauty of paintings and the art world in general is that there’s something for everyone. Art speaks to people individually and something that inspires some people can make others feel uneasy. However, some paintings have mass appeal. Here are five of the most famous paintings of all time!

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The Mona Lisa

Did you expect anything else to start this list? One of the most recognisable paintings in history, the Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci toward the beginning of the 16th century. Currently held in the Louvre Museum in Paris, experts still haven’t identified the sitter with certainty, although they believe it to be Lisa Gherardini.

Interestingly, researchers suggest that the Mona Lisa wasn’t famous until the beginning of the 20th century – nearly 400 years after the initial painting. After an employee at the Louvre stole the painting and kept it hidden from the world for two years, it eventually garnered the reputation it now has in the 21st century.

The Starry Night

As one of the most encapsulating, unique paintings on this list, Starry Night was created by Vincent van Gogh in 1889. Known for his innovative ideas and thick brushstrokes, van Gogh’s paintings have a special place in the hearts of many all over the world. However, none can quite compare to the love for Starry Night.

At the time of painting Starry Night, van Gogh was living in an asylum where he was suffering from mental illness. According to sources, this was the view from his room. Also, the song ‘Vincent’ from Don Mclean is based on van Gogh and this very painting.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Back in the mid-1660s, Johannes Vermeer created the Girl with a Pearl Earring, another painting that can now be found in painting shops around the world as reproductions and inspiring images. As an oil on canvas painting, one of the most striking elements is the simplicity. With a dark background, the girl jumps out of the canvas with no other distractions.

Just in case it wasn’t already popular enough, the Girl with a Pearl Earring toured the world between 2012 and 2014 while the museum in which it’s held in the Netherlands was renovated. Thousands of people queued to see the work of art and its story grew just a little more.

The Last Supper

How do you cement yourself as one of the most famous artists of all time? Create two iconic paintings that would evoke emotions in viewers for hundreds of years to come. That’s right – it’s back to Leonardo da Vinci now with the Last Supper. This time, you’ll have to travel to Milan if you want to see the original.

Toward the end of the 15th century, religious imagery was ubiquitous. Yet, this one has enchanted crowds for many centuries since as Jesus is depicted breaking bread for the last time before his crucifixion. Another impressive detail of this painting is that it stands around 15-feet high and nearly 30-feet wide – quite imposing and impressive when standing in front of the iconic painting.

The Scream

Finally, just four years after Starry Night, Edvard Munch painted The Scream. This is a unique addition to the list because it’s actually a set of works including two pastels, two paintings, and various prints. Back in 2012, one of the paintings generated nearly $120 million at auction.

The Scream has a storied history having been subjected to thefts in 1994 and 2004. Like the Mona Lisa, this has projected the paintings into artistic prominence even more (if that were possible!).