There have been so many paintings in such a wide range of subjects and movements across history that it can be difficult to narrow a selection to the best paintings ever. This list of the best paintings in history includes the best Baroque period art, the most famous Renaissance paintings, and even the most famous portraits.
Even though some of the paintings on this list may be from famous artists who have names that are familiar, like Picasso or Frida Kahlo, you may also find some classic paintings you recognize from artists whose names you didn't know, like Jan Brueghel the Younger. There are even famous paintings that may be new to you, like Tiger by German Expressionist Franz Marc and España y Filipinas by Juan Luna. From the smooth precision of painters like Peter Paul Rubens to the broad strokes of Matisse paintings, these famous art pieces are of the very best by the greatest painters of all time.
The Starry Night is an oil on canvas by the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June, 1889, it depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an idealized village. It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941, acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. It is regarded as among Van Gogh's finest works, and one of the most recognized monuments in the history of Western culture. ...more on Wikipedia
Artist: Vincent van Gogh
Period / Movement: Post-Impressionism
The Birth of Venus is a painting by Sandro Botticelli generally thought to have been painted in the mid 1480s. It has long been suggested that Botticelli was commissioned to paint the work by the Medici family of Florence, specifically Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici under the influence of his cousin Lorenzo de' Medici, close patron to Botticelli. However, there are no documents associated with the painting, and its first identification with the Medici family only comes in the 1550 edition of Vasari's Lives. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as an adult woman, arriving at the sea-shore. The painting is on display at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. ...more on Wikipedia
Artist: Sandro Botticelli
The Persistence of Memory is a 1931 painting by artist Salvador Dalí, and is one of his most recognizable works. First shown at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1932, the painting has been in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1934 which received it from an anonymous donor. It is widely recognized and frequently referenced in popular culture, though it is commonly better known by the more descriptive titles, 'The Soft Watches' or 'The Melting Watches'. ...more on Wikipedia
Artist: Salvador Dalí
Period / Movement: Surrealism
The Mona Lisa is a half-length portrait of a woman by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, which has been acclaimed as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world". The painting, thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel, and is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic, on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797. The subject's expression, which is ...more on Wikipedia
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
Subject: Lisa del Giocondo
Period / Movement: Italian Renaissance, Renaissance