The Best Paintings Of All Time

Voting Rules
Vote up the best paintings from the medium's history

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 whose works sell for lots of money, 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 Creation of Adam
    Photo: Michelangelo / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    The Creation of Adam is a fresco painting by Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, painted circa 1511–1512. It illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which God breathes life into Adam, the first man. The fresco is part of a complex iconographic scheme and is chronologically the fourth in the series of panels depicting episodes from Genesis. It is the most well-known of the Sistine Chapel fresco panels, and its fame as a piece of art is rivaled only by the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The image of the near-touching hands of God and Adam has become iconic of humanity and has been reproduced in countless imitations and parodies. Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper and Michelangelo's Creation of Adam are the most replicated religious paintings of all time.
    • Artist: Michelangelo
    • Subject: Adam
    • Period / Movement: Italian Renaissance, Renaissance
    3,387 votes
  • 2
    4,174 VOTES
    The Starry Night
    Photo: Vincent van Gogh / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    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.
    • Artist: Vincent van Gogh
    • Subject: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
    • Period / Movement: Post-Impressionism
    4,174 votes
  • 3
    3,022 VOTES
    The Last Supper
    Photo: Leonardo da Vinci / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    The Last Supper is a late 15th-century mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. It is one of the world's most famous paintings, and one of the most studied, scrutinized, and satirized. The work is presumed to have been commenced around 1495 and was commissioned as part of a scheme of renovations to the church and its convent buildings by Leonardo's patron Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. The painting represents the scene of The Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, as it is told in the Gospel of John, 13:21. Leonardo has depicted the consternation that occurred among the Twelve Disciples when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him. Due to the methods used, and a variety of environmental factors, very little of the original painting remains today, despite numerous restoration attempts, the last being completed in 1999.
    • Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
    • Subject: Jesus Christ
    • Period / Movement: High Renaissance, Italian Renaissance, Renaissance
    3,022 votes
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring
    Photo: Johannes Vermeer / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Girl with a Pearl Earring is an oil painting by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It is a tronie of a girl with a headscarf and a pearl earring. The painting has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague since 1902.
    • Artist: Johannes Vermeer
    • Period / Movement: Dutch Golden Age
    3,081 votes
  • 5
    3,006 VOTES
    The Ninth Wave
    Photo: Russian Museum / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    The Ninth Wave is an 1850 painting by the Russian Armenian marine painter Ivan Aivazovsky. It is his best known work. The titles refer to the nautical tradition that waves grow larger and larger in a series up to the largest wave, the ninth wave, at which point the series starts again. It depicts a sea after a night storm and people facing death attempting to save themselves by clinging to debris from a wrecked ship. The painting has warm tones in which the sea appears to be not so menacing and giving a chance for the people to survive.
    • Artist: Ivan Aivazovsky
    3,006 votes
  • The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Giverny
    Photo: Claude Monet / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    "The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Giverny" (1899) is one in a series of water lilies paintings by French Impressionist artist Claude Monet.
    • Artist: Claude Monet
    • Period / Movement: Impressionism
    2,369 votes