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Famous Painters Blogroll

Anguissola, Three Sisters Playing Chess and Phillip II of Spain

Beckmann, Departure; Self-Portrait in Tuxedo; Sinking of Titanic

Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri

BonheurPlowing in the Nivernais

Bonheur, The Horse Fair

Botticelli Primavera

Caravaggio, Fashion and Art History

CaravaggioConversion of St. Paul

Caravaggio, Young, Sick Bacchus and Basket of Fruit

Caravaggio, Cardsharps and Fortune Teller

Caravaggio, St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

Caravaggio, Taking of Christ (Kiss of Judas)

Caravaggio Paintings at the Villa Borghese

Cave Paintings

Cezanne, Bathers

Cezanne, Card Players

Cezanne, Most Famous Paintings 

Copley, Paul Revere

David, Death of Marat 

David, Death of Socrates

David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps

de Kooning, Retrospective at MoMA (Part I)

de Kooning,Excavation and Painting, 1948 

de KooningWoman I

Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People  

Diebenkorn, The Ocean Park Series

Duncanson, Robert Seldon.  Art History Welcomes Duncanson 

Durer, The Four Apostles

El Greco, Burial of Count Orgaz

FontanaPortrait of a Noblewoman

Frankenthaler, Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea

Gainsborough, The Blue Boy

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Judith Beheading Holofernes

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting 

Ghent Altarpiece.  

Ghent Altarpiece via zoom

GiorgioneThree Philosophers 

Goya, Family of Charles IV

Goya, The Third of May 1808 

Goya, Duchess of Alba; Saturn Devouring his Son; Two Old Men; Half-Submerged Dog; Black Paintings

Grunewald, Isenheim Altarpiece

Hals, Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Civic Guard

Hals, The Laughing Cavalier

Hals, Regents of St. Elizabeth's Hospital

Hopper, Nighthawks

Ingres, Grande Odalisque and Portrait of Madame Moissetier

Isenheim Altarpiece

Kahlo, Renowned Frida Kahlo Paintings.  

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting and David Garrick.  

Klimt, The Kiss and Adele Bloch-Bauer

Leonardo, Painter at the Court of Milan, National Gallery, London 

Leonardo, La Bella Principessa 

Leonardo, New Mona Lisa

Leonardo, Benois Madonna and Madonna Litta 

Leonardo, Savior of the World(Salvator Mundi) 

Leonardo, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Leyster, Famous Female Painters 

ManetA Bar at the Folies-Bergere

Manet, Luncheon in the Studio

Manet, The Old Musician

Manet, Street Singer

MantegnaDead Christ

Matisse Paintings, In Search of True Painting

Matisse, The DanceThe Music

Matisse, The Cone Collection

Matisse, The Red Studio

Matisse, The Yellow Dress

Michelangelo, Crucifixion with the Madonna

Michelangelo, Famous Paintings

Michelangelo, La Pieta with Two Angels (latest attribution?)

Michelangelo, St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness

Modersohn-Becker, Famous Female Painters

Monet, Waterlilies

Morisot, Famous Paintings

MorisotMore Famous Paintings

Munch, The Scream

O'Keeffe, Jack in the Pulpit

Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror

Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein

Picasso, Las Meninas

Piero della Francesca, The Baptism of Christ

Poussin, Assumption of the Virgin

Raphael, Sistine Madonna

Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer 

Rembrandt, Night Watch

Rembrandt paintings at Frick Show

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait at an Early AgeJeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, The Jewish Bride

Rembrandt, The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild

Rubens, Venus and Adonis

Sanchez Cotan, Spanish Still-life

Sargent, El Jaleo

Sargent, Madame X

Steen, The Christening Feast 

Steen paintings at Frick Show

Tanner, The Banjo Lesson and The Thankful Poor

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne

Titian, Man with a Glove

Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, Allegory of Prudence, Jacopa Strada, St. Jerome, Slaying of Marysas

Titian, Rape of Europa

Turner, J. M. W, The Fighting Temeraire

Uccello, Battle of San Romano

van der Weyden, St. Luke Drawing the Virgin

Velazquez, Pope Innocent X

Vincent van Gogh paintings up to 1889

Vincent van Gogh paintings, 1888-1890

van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait

van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb

van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece

van Gogh, The Potato Eaters

van GoghMemory of Garden at Etten; Tatched Cottages; White House

van Gogh,  Portrait of Madam Trabuc; Morning: Going Out

van Gogh, Starry Night

Velazquez, Juan de Pareja

Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring

Vermeer, Saint Praxedis

Vermeer, The Kitchen Maid

Vermeer, The Allegory of Painting

VermeerGirl with the Red Hat

Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans

Warhol, Marilyn Diptych and Gold Marilyn 

Warhol, Mao 

Anders Zorn

Famous Paintings by Art Museums - ebooks

Learn about famous paintings to see in these art museums:

Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY). One of those intimate, small art museums with a stellar collectionFamous Paintings at Albright-Knox. 

Art Institute of Chicago: Plan to see these famous paintings at the Art Institute -- and download an ebook about them.

Louvre Museum, (Paris): one of the largest art museums in the world! Know which Louvre paintings not to miss in this sortable ebook. 

Mauritshuis Museum: explore works by renowned Dutch painters

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City): download the ebook, Famous-Paintings-Metropolitan-Museum, to learn its must-see masterpieces.

National Gallery (London): with 2300 famous paintings alone in its European painting section, discover highlights to see!  Art Paintings to See at the National Gallery.

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam): 10 famous paintings not to miss

Washington, D.C. Art Museums: Explore forty famous paintings in Washington, DC in this article.

Most Popular Posts

Michelangelo PaintingsThe Torment of Saint Anthony; The Manchester Madonna;Holy Family (Doni Tondo); and Entombment

Cave Paintings: explore this prehistoric art in Spain and France.

Picasso's Las Meninas: 58 Picasso paintings inspired by Velazquez's Las Meninas

Ghent Altarpiece: the van Eyck masterpiece, one of the most famous artworks ever made. 

Survey of Renaissance Paintings: want to know what Renaissance paintings were all about? Start with 20 of its most famous painters in this sweeping survey! 

Discover more of readers' favorite art history blog posts. 

Female Artists

While we long for the time when artists are artists and genderless, that time isn't yet here.

These are a few of the female artists who've left lasting legacies in the history of painting:

Sofonisba AnguissolaThree Sisters Playing ChessPhillip II of Spain

Rosa Bonheur.  Plowing in the Nivernais.  Horse Fair.

Lavinia Fontana. Portrait of a Noblewoman.

Helen Frankenthaler. Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea. 

Artemisia Gentileschi.  Judith Beheading Holofernes.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting.

Frida Kahlo.  Frida and Diego Rivera.  The Two Fridas.  The Love Embrace of the Universe. 

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting.  David Garrick.

Judith Leyster.  Self-Portrait.  The Proposition. 

Paula Modersohn-Becker. Self-Portrait with an Amber Necklace. Still Life with Goldfish. 

Berthe Morisot.  Refuge in Normandy.  The Cradle. 

Georgia O'Keeffe. Jack in the Pulpit Series. 

Survey of Female Artists

Art History Other

Art History Blogs

ArtDaily: daily breaking news about art museums and art history.

Art Blog by Bob: this brilliant art history blogger of Picture This on Big Think.

Art History Resources. Unwieldly but informative.

Marisol Roman.  A Spanish art history blog.

Mother of all Art & Art History Links: extensive list of online art history resources (including images, research resources, and art history depts.)

smARThistory. Think online art history textbook.  Brilliant. 

Art History Beyond Europe

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Survey of Renaissance Paintings

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

The quantity of famous Renaissance paintings - and the genius of their creators - remain a marvel in the history of art.  This cultural movement, which roughly spanned the 14th to 17th centuries, brought a resurgence of interest in Greco-Roman culture. Renaissance paintings explored themes in perspective, mythology and anatomy, among others.

caravaggio st paul

Here are blog posts about Renaissance paintings which exemplify the era - and justify its fame (listed in painters' birth order):

1. van Eyck, Jan. With only 25 Renaissance paintings attributed to him, the work of Jan van Eyck is nonetheless hugely influential. Learn some of the most recent thinking about who is in, and what is portrayed, in Arnolfini Portrait Explore the incomparable Renaissance altarpiece, Ghent Altarpiece, made by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, and the most famous artwork in it, Adoration of the Lamb.

Left.  Caravaggio.  The Conversion of St. Paul.  Oil on canvas, ca. 1601.  7'6" by 5'7".  Cerasi Chapel Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome.

2. Uccello, Paolo.  In the Battle of San Romano triptych, one of the glories of Renaissance art, Paolo Uccello introduces linear, or one point, perspective. Battle of San Romano hangs in three discrete art museums, which barely detracts from its majesty. 

3. Piero della Francesca.  One of the most famous painters of the Italian Renaissance.  Period.

4. Mantegna, Andrea.  Although Mantegna shunned two new painting advances of Renaissance art - linear perspective and oil paint -  his Dead Christ is nonetheless one of the most highly esteemed Renaissance paintings.

5. Botticelli, Sandro.  PrimaveraOne of the leading painters of the Early Renaissance (1400-1500), Botticelli studied with - and surpassed - another well known Renaissance painter, Fra Filipo Lippi. Tragically, many Botticelli paintings were destroyed in the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities of 1497. Primavera and Birth of Venus, are arguably the best known Botticelli paintings.

6. Leonardo.  Who isn't in awe of Leonardo da Vinci's contributions to Renaissance art?

7.  Durer, Albrecht.  Trained as a goldsmith, painter, woodcutter and in stained glass design, Albrech Durer was the best print-maker of the High Renaissance and an accomplished painter, as seen in one of Durer's most famous paintings, Four Apostles.  

8. Michelangelo.  Explore four Michelangelo paintings (and learn about the only one in the U.S.).  Read about two possible new Michelangelo paintingsCrucifixion with the Madonna and St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness.

9. GiorgioneAlthough only six Renaissance paintings are definitively attributed to Giorgione, he nonetheless had an enduring impact on the history of painting.  Learn about one of these six famous paintings, Three Philosophers.

10. Raphael. Considered one of the most brilliant Raphael paintings, Sistine Madonna is often most recognized for its two impish putti.  None other than Fyodor Dostoevsky swooned at the beauty of one of the most famous Raphael paintings.

11. Titian. Titian paintings (like Nymph and Shepherd, Allegory of Prudence, Jacopa Strada, St. Jerome, Slaying of Marysas) dominated Renaissance art for good reason.  

titian rape europa

Right. Titian (Tiziano Vecellio). Europe, 1560-62.  Oil on canvas, 178 x 205 cm. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts

Explore more Titian paintings such as: 

Bacchus and Ariadne

Assumption of the Virgin;

Man with a Glove

Rape of Europaand

Pope Paul III and His Grandson.

12. Anguissola, Sofonisba. One of the most outstanding female painters of the Italian Renaissance, Anguissola's father believed girls deserved the same education as boys.  After being apprenticed to two Renaissance painters, Sofonisba Anguissola, at the age of 15 (in 1547!), became renowned for portraiture, as seen in Three Sisters Playing Chess and Phillip II of Spain. 

13. Fontana, Lavinia.  Now becoming more widely recognized in the history of painting, Fontana was a portraitist for two popes, had eleven children... and employed her husband as studio assistant.  In one of the best known Lavinia Fontana paintingsPortrait of a Noblewoman, she shows her skill as a portraitist.  She also created memorable altarpieces and mythological paintings. 

gentileschi judith maidservant

Left. Artemisia Gentileschi.  Judith Beheading Holofernes, c. 1620.  Oil on canvas, 78" x 64".  Uffizi, Florence. 

14. Caravaggio.  The bad boy of Renaissance art (and the creator of some of the most remarkable Renaissance paintings).

With present-day, international adulation of Caravaggio paintings, it's hard to believe he dwelled in obscurity for three centuries.  Believe it. Read about other (now) famous paintings by Caravaggio

15. Rubens, Peter Paul. The most extensive collection of Rubens paintings outside Paris is in Sarasota, Florida.  Learn about four of these Rubens paintings and this outstanding art museum. 

16. Gentileschi, Artemisia. The first female painter in the Italian Academy of Design, Gentileschi was illiterate but is legendary in Renaissance art. Her confidence is revealled in Judith Beheading Holofernes, which challenged comparison to Caravaggio's version of the same subject, and in Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting.

17. Velazquez.   Having been stood up by Pope Innocent X, Velazquez painted his servant, Juan de Pareja, while he waited for the Pope to receive him. Juan de Pareja is one of the most poignant Velazquez paintings, while his portrait of the Pope is... just a portrait. Compare Juan with Pope Innocent X

velazquez-juan-de-pareja18. Rembrandt.  Rembrandt painted more than 50 self-portraits but none surpasses Self-Portrait at an Early Age (1628), completed when Rembrandt was 22 years old.  Explore this and three other influential Rembrandt paintings from one of the indisputable masters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Right. Diego Velazquez.  Juan de Pareja, 1648.  Oil on canvas, 32" by 27 1/2".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  Purchase, Fletcher Fund, Rogers Fund, and Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton deGroot.

And don't overlook Night Watch, inarguably one of the most brilliant of all Rembrandt paintings. 

19. Leyster, Judith. The first woman to be inducted into the Guild of St. Luke, the Haarlem painter's guild, Judith Leyster was a talented portrait and genre painter. 

20. Kauffmann, Angelica.  This child prodigy was fluent in four languages... and refused to work in the "lesser" genres of painting that were considered acceptable to women.  Angelica Kauffmann was one of the 36 founders of the Royal Academy of Art, and was as financially successful as her male peers. 

Want to explore art history, up close and personal?

Check out Masterpiece Cards, a set of art history reference cards about famous paintings.  most famous paintings

Each 4" by 6" Card provides:

  • a faithful reproduction

  • an art historian's introductory essay to the work

  • key facts about the masterpiece.

In other words, the perfect introduction to 250 of the most famous paintings in Western art history.  

All at your fingertips.  Let exploration begin!

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Leonardo da Vinci Painting Authenticated

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

A Leonardo da Vinci painting believed lost or destroyed has been authenticated, rocking the art history world (and all Leonardo fans worldwide).

Titled Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), this panel painting will be publicly displayed for the first time in the forthcoming exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan at the National Gallery in London (11/9/2011 to 2/5/2012). Between to have been painted between the late 1490s to early 1500s, the Salvator Mundi is believed to be worth $200 million - although its owners emphasize it is not for sale.

leonardo salvator mundiArt historians have known about the existence of Salvator Mundi from two preparatory drawings by Leonardo, numerous copies made by students, and a 1650 etching by the Bohemian etcher, Wenceslaus Hollar; its location, however, has been uncertain until recently.

Salvator Mundi appears in 1649 in the royal art collection of Charles I and was sold by the royals in 1763, at which point it disappeared until 1900.  Sir Frederick Cook then purchased this Leonardo painting; his heirs sold Salvator Mundi for a mere 45 pounds sterling because it was damaged and its authorship forgotten.  In 2005 the Leonardo painting was brought to a New York art historian, Robert Simon, and exhaustive authentication began.

Key factors in authenticating this as one of the remaining Leonardo da Vinci paintings were:

  • the resemblance to Leonardo's preparatory sketches and Hollar's etching;

  • the stylistic similarities with other Leonardo paintings;

  • the stellar quality; and

  • existence of pentimenti

This brings to fifteen the number of fully authenticated Leonardo da Vinci paintings (the last attribution occurred in 1909 with the Benois Madonna now at the Hermitage Museum).  The upcoming Leonardo art exhibition, which will focus on the late 1480s - 1490s when he was court painter to Duke Lodovico Sforza, will leonardo madonna litta also include La Belle Ferroniere, the Hermitage's Madonna Litta, and the unfinished St. Jerome in the Wilderness

Leonardo da Vinci.  Madonna and Child (Madonna Litta), 1490s.  Tempera on canvas, approximately 16" by 13". Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

This will be the most exhaustive display of Leonardo paintings ever shown.  Ever! If you're lucky enough to be in London this fall or winter, tickets are currently on sale for Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan.  Run, don't walk

Famous Paintings: Man with a Glove

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

Famous paintings by Titian (c. 1490-1576) are among the most revered Renaissance paintings, dominating the Italian Renaissance and legendary in the history of art.

Born Tiziano Vecelli, which is anglicized to "Titian", he was trained by Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430-1516) and Giorgione da Castelfranco (c. 1477-1510), known simply as "Giorgione".  Upon the latter's death, Titian was the master of Venetian painting for the next fifty years, renowned for his skill with color, composition and portraiture. "The works of Titian", comments Fred Kleiner in Gardner's, "establish oil color on canvas as the typical medium of our pictorial tradition."

After the death of Raphael (1483-1520), Titian became the undisputed master of portrait painting -  over fifty Titian portraits survive today.  Among the best known of these famous paintings

titian man with glove resized 600
Titian.  Man with a Glove, c. 1519.  Oil on canvas, approx. 39" by 35".  Louvre, Paris.

is Man With a Glove.  The subject appears to be close to twenty and is dressed in current Venetian fashion, a black doublet with a pleated shirt.  Against a shadowy, dark background, he leans on a block of marble with his left hand, which is grasping two gloves that point to his right hand; the V-shaped opening of his shirt draws one's eye to his face and back again to his right hand. 

Art history experts have never established the identity of the Man with a Glove.  It is apparent, though, he is an aristocrat: he has coiffured hair, a ring bearing a coat of arms, and a medallion with a pearl and sapphire, in addition to his stylish clothes and leather gloves. 

But his identity and name are incidental - Titian's famous painting is a psychological portrait in which the sitter's personality is conveyed through a palette of limited but dramatically contrasting colors. The man, turned slightly away from the viewer, appears aloof and preoccupied, yet his eyes convey sensitivity.  Again as described in Gardner's, "Titian's Man with a Glove is as much the portrait of a cultivated state of mind as of a particular individual".  The ability of Titian to create such a convincing psychological portrait has cemented his stature as one of the most famous painters in art history.

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Famous Paintings: The Four Apostles

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

The famous paintings and engravings of Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) could be a springboard to discuss decades of European history and art history.  After been trained in painting, goldsmithing, stained-glass design and woodcutting, Albrecht Durer traveled to Northern Europe and Venice in 1494-1495 to experience Renaissance art firsthand.  He was particularly impressed with the Renaissance paintings of Giovanni Bellini (ca. 1430 -1516), and with the social status enjoyed by Italian Renaissance artists - he dryly observed, "Here [in Italy], I am a gentleman; at home, I am a parasite".

durer four apostlesdurer four apostlesIt wasn't only the artist's stature that was in flux at the turn of the century - the Catholic Church, impoverished and rife with financial abuse and corruption, had itself become controversial.

Albrecht Durer.  The Four Apostles, 1523-1526.  Oil on panel, each 7'1" by 2'6".  Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

 Pope Julius II was selling indulgences, papal "guarantees" of salvation and forgiveness, to those who contributed to rebuilding St. Peter's.  These sales were protested by numerous religious reformers, including two, Desiderius Erasmus (ca. 1466-1536) and Martin Luther (1483-1546), who vociferously questioned the supremacy of papal authority. 

Such religious protests and reforms (along with Durer's etchings) spread rapidly throughout Europe, thanks to widespread use of printing presses; it is estimated that by 1499, some 15 million books had been printed.  Albrecht Durer was an early supporter of Martin Luther, 'the Christian man who has helped me out of great anxieties', and revealed his new found faith in his paired art paintings or diptych, The Four Apostles.  

In the left panel (left) St. John (Luther's favorite evangelist) looms large, overshadowing St. Peter, who as the first pope holds a key to the Church.  In the right panel (below), St. Paul, often deemed the spiritual father of Protestantism, nearly blocks St. Mark from view. Durer's Four Apostles stands out in art history as a pure Protestant painting -- these four men are part of the foundation of its doctrines.

In addition to this literal interpretation of Durer's famous paintings, Honour and Fleming observe in The Visual Arts: A History that:

Durer is known to have intended the figures to exemplify also the four humours or temperaments - sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic - associated with the elements forming the basic substance of all creation.

According to this train of thought, the "humours" have been unbalanced since the Biblical Fall of Adam and Eve. The relative presence and absence of these temperaments create humans' physical and psychological diversity, a tenet of Protestantism.  Although humours may now seem simplistic, consider the science available in the 16th century -- with Gregory Mendel and Charles Darwin two centuries away, humours are a reasonable explanation for the wonder of human diversity!

Coming next: More art beyond the European tradition, created around Durer's era in art history.


Art History Beyond Europe

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

I applaud incorporating art history beyond the European tradition into survey courses -- I just know little about this field, once called non-Western art. Because I've been writing about Renaissance paintings (like Mantegna's Dead Christ and Giorgione's Three Philosophers), it seems timely to look at some non-Western art of the same era in art history.borgia codex

 

Off to Mexico then!  What's not fascinating about the Borgia Codex (ca. 1497)? It is a divinatory, painted manuscript housed in the Vatican's Apostolic Library since the demise of its prior owner, the Italian cardinal Stefano Borgia. 

Created by an artist of Mixteca-Puebla heritage, the Borgia Codex is a series of animal skins folded into 39 sheets, each of which is 11" square.  Its contents include, among other things, tables for measuring planetary and lunar cycles; dynasty histories; and information about the 260 day-long year.  Used to divine advantageous timing for key events, the Codex is a single-source repository of a culture's knowledge and history.

In China, major building projects that typified the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) were being completed, most notably the 1500 mile long Great Wall.   Painting flourished as well.  A group of four tang yin quiet boats 

Tang Yin.  Quiet Boats on an Autumn River,  c. 1500. Ink and color on silk, 11 1/2 by 11'6".  National Palace Museum, Taipei.

famous painters, the so-called Four Masters of the Ming dynasty, included Tang Yin (1470-1523), commonly known as Tang Bohu. He was best known for capturing the mood and essence of mountains, as in Quiet Boats on an Autumn River, above.

At the same time in India, Hindu paintings were celebrating the incarnations of the diety Vishnu, known as Krishna krishna and gopisduring his eighth incarnation.  In Krishna and the Gopis, he is depicted with blue skin to indicate his origins from a non-Arayan or tribal group.

Artist Unknown. Krishna and the Gopis, Leaf from a Bhagavata Purana Series.  Opaque watercolor on paper, ca. 1540.  6 7/8" by 9 1/8".  Brooklyn Museum, New York.

Krishna is shown here courting favors from gopis, or milkmaids.  Although neither the artist nor patron of Krishna are certain, art historians concur this is one of the earliest Hindu paintings..

I hope you, too, have learned from this glance at early 16th century artwork outside the European tradition!

Art Paintings to See at the National Gallery

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

With 2300 famous paintings in its collection of European paintings, London's National Gallery can be overwhelming. In fact, most art museums are -- which is when (and where) Masterpiece Cards' research is indispensable.

We surveyed nearly two dozen art history books to learn which famous paintings were discussed most frequently when art history pros assessed famous painters and art movements. These famous paintings, shown in bold-face, are included in 250 Masterpieces in Western Painting, a boxed set of art history cards examining Renaissance paintings through Pop works of art. The other paintings below are "runner-ups", according to art history pros. If you're lucky enough to be visiting London, this National Gallery itinerary will amaze and amuse.  Have fun!

Bellini, Giovanni. Doge Leonardo Loredon.  Oil on wood, 1501

Botticelli, Sandro. Mystical Nativity. Oil on canvas, 1500 or 1501

Bronzino, Agnolo. An Allegory (Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time). Oil on wood, before 1545

Canaletto. Venice: The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day.  Oil on canvas, c. 1735 - 1741

Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da. The Supper at Emmaus.  Oil on canvas, 1601.  Read about other famous paintings by Caravaggio

Constable, John. The Hay Wain.  Oil on canvas, 1821

della Francesca, Piero. The Baptism of Christ. Tempera on wood, c. 1440 - 1450

Gainsborough, Thomas. Mr. and Mrs. AndrewsOil on canvas, c. 1748 - 1749

Hogarth, William. Marriage a la Mode: The Tete a Tete.  Oil on canvas, c. 1743.  Read about this art painting hereMarriage a la Mode: tete a tete

William Hogarth. Marriage a la Mode. Oil on canvas, ca. 1743.  28" x 36".  National Gallery, London.

 Holbein the Younger, Hans. Erasmus of Rotterdam oil on panel, c.  1523

Holbein the Younger, Hans. Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve (The Ambassadors). Oil on oak panel, 1533.  Read about other famous paintings by Holbein

Hooch, Pieter de. The Courtyard of a House in Delft.  Oil on canvas, 1658

Kalf, Willem. Still Life with Lobster, Drinking Horn and Glasses.  Oil on canvas, 1653. Read about this famous painting by Willem Kalf.

Lorrain, Claude. Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba.  Oil on canvas, 1648

Michelangelo, The Entombment.  C. 1500-1501.  Explore famous paintings by Michelangelo- there are four! 

Morisot, Berthe. Summer's Day.  Oil on canvas,1879

Poussin, Nicolas. The Abduction of the Sabine Women.  Oil on canvas, c. 1633 - 1634.  Learn about other famous paintings by Poussin. 

Rauschenberg, Robert. Bed. Oil and pencil on pillow, quilt and sheet on wooden supports,1955

Rubens, Peter Paul. Portrait of Suzanne Fourment (Le Chapeau de paille).  Oil on wood, 1625

Rubens, Peter Paul. The Judgement of Paris.  Oil on panel, 1632 - 1635. Love this famous painter? Explore more famous paintings by Rubens

Ruisdael, Jacob van. Two Watermills and an open Sluice near Singraven.  Oil on canvas, c. 1650 - 1652

Seurat, Georges. Bathers at Asnieres.  Oil on canvas, c. 1883 - 1884

Titian. Bacchus and Ariadne.  Oil on canvas, 1520-1530.  Read about some world famous paintings by Titian.   Bacchus and Ariadne

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne. Oil on canvas, c. 1522-23. 5' 9" x 6' 3". National Gallery, London 

Turner, Joseph Mallord William. The "Fighting Temeraire" Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken Up.  Oil on canvas, 1838

Uccello, Paolo. The Battle of San Romano(left panel of a triptych). Tempera on panel,  c. 1445.  Read an art analysis of this famous painting, a favorite at Masterpiece Cards. The Battle of San Romano, and see images of this famous painting. 

van Dyck, Sir Anthony. Equestrian Portrait of Charles I. Oil on canvas, c. 1636

van Eyck, Jan. Man in a Red Turban (Self-Portrait?)Tempera and wood on panel, 1433. Below. Read about some of van Eyck's other famous artwork, The Adoration of the Lamb, the Ghent Altarpiece, and The Arnolfini Portrait.

man in a red turbanJan van Eyck. Man in a Red Turban (Self-Portrait?). Tempera and oil on wood, 1433.  13 1/8" x 10 1/8".  National Gallery, London. 

van Eyck, Jan. Arnolfini Portrait.  Oil on oak, 1434. Read about this famous painting by van Eyck

Velazquez, Diego. Venus with a Mirror (The Rokeby Venus). Oil on canvas, 1644 - 1648.

Wright (of Derby), Joseph. An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, Oil on canvas, 1768.

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Famous Paintings: Bacchus and Ariadne

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

One of Titian's most famous paintings, Bacchus and Ariadne, is one of five commissioned by Alfonso d'Este (1486-1534) for his palace in Ferrara, Italy.  Like many Italian Renaissance princes, he had a private art gallery, known as a camerino or studiolo.  His was a camerino d'alabastro, or small alabaster room, with white marble-veneered walls to showcase his collection of Renaissance artwork.

bellini feast of gods

Giovanni Bellini and Titian, Feast of the Gods.  Oil on canvas, 5' 7" x 6' 2".  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. 

The bacchanal paintings commissioned for the Alabaster Room are all based loosely on Roman rites and rituals described by the poet Ovid (43 B.C. - A.D. 1). 

The centerpiece of the Alabaster Room was Feast of the Gods (left) by Giovanni Bellini (1430/1435 - 1516), the greatest Venetian painter of the 15th century. 

Like Feast, the other four commissions treated the theme of love. These works are:

  1. Dosso Dossi's Aeneas in the Elysian Fields; 

  2. Worship of Venus by Titian; 

  3. The Bacchanal of the Andrians by Titian; and

  4. Bacchus and Ariadne, the most renowned of these four Titian paintings.  

 titian worship of venusTitian, The Worship of Venus.  Oil on canvas, 1516  - 1518.  5'8" x 5'8". Museo del Prado, Madrid.

In The Worship of Venus (left), Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete, aided Theseus in his escape from the Minotaur's labyrinth, subsequently falling in love with the Athenian hero. 

Ungrateful for her assistance, he callously abandoned her on the Greek island of Naxos, where she wandered in mourning.  In Bacchus and Ariadne, she hopelessly extends her hand toward Theseus' dimly visible ship.  At that moment, her life is miraculously transformed by the scene Titian memorializes in this landmark painting - love at first sight from, and toward, Bacchus, the god of wine.

Bacchus is immediately recognizable both by the laurel and grape leaves adorning his hair, and by his company of satyrs and maenads (Bacchus groupies); one of these crashs cymbals while in a pose mirroring Ariadne's. He bounds from his chariot, pulled hertitian bacchus and ariadne

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne. Oil on canvas, c. 1522-23. 5' 9" x 6' 3". National Gallery, London  

by cheetahs rather than leopards.  This deviation from tradition is Titian's nod to Bacchus' conquest of India.  On the far right, the strongman Laocoon would have been immediately identifiable to the Italian Renaissance audience: an antique statue of this Trojan priest was unearthed in 1505, inspiring cross-references from many Renaissance painters and artists. The fat, elder man seemingly asleep on a donkey is Silenus, the head of the satyrs and foster-father to Bacchus.  

In the middle foreground is a baby satyr who alone directly engages the viewer.  He dons a garland and drags a calf head; its dismemberment - and drinking of its blood by the revelers - is a gruesome part of Bacchus' ritual.  In the lower left, Titian's name is inscribed in Latin on the urn, and translates as "Titian made this picture".  He was one of the first Renaissance painters to sign his artwork, and was an early proponent of improving the lowly social status of painters.

Curiously, this didn't include maintaining the integrity of paintings completed by others. Feast, completed in 1514, was altered by Ferrara's court painter, Dosso Dossi, who reportedly altered the painting to coordinate with other decorations in the Alabaster Room. Additional (and well-documented) alterations were made in 1529 by Bellini's student, Titian, who completely repainted the background. It is not known if this alteration was also made to complement other 'decorations' in the Alabaster Room!  When the Este family lost control on Ferrara in 1598, these famous paintings and sculptures were dispersed.

Note: If anyone knows when it became unacceptable to re-paint another artist's completed work, I'd appreciation learning -- it is so remote from today's standards! 

 

 

 

Famous Paintings: Arnolfini Portrait

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

Among the most famous paintings in Renaissance artArnolfini Portrait has been enigmatic since Jan van Eyck (ca. 1370/90 - 1441) painted it over 450 years ago.

He left no documents to clarify the meaning of Arnolfini Portrait; furthermore, little is known of van Eyck's early life or training.  One of the few facts about van Eyck, gleaned from court and legal documents, is that he was retained in 1425 by Philip the Good, the duke of Burgundy (best known for having captured Joan of Arc). 

Although art historians generally attribute 25 Renaissance paintings to Jan van Eyck, that number is somewhat uncertain because signatures are rare on 15th century paintings. Instead, painters signed the frames but they were often lost or

van eyck margaret the wife Right: Jan van Eyck. Margaret, The Artist's Wife, 1439.  Oil on oak, 1439.  Approx. 13" x 10". On loan at National Gallery, London, from City Museums (Bruges)

replaced. 

In the case of van Eyck's Renaissance paintings, at least two bear his signature: Man in a Red Turban, believed to be a self-portrait (below) and Margaret, The Artist's Wife (right).

van eyck man in red turban resized 600

Jan van Eyck.  Man in a Red Turban (Self Portrait?), 1433. Tempera and oil on wood.  13 1/8" x 10 1/8".  National Gallery, London.

In both cases, the original frame bears van Eyck's motto, "Als ik kan", or the pun, "As I or Eyck can". While Arnolfini Portrait lacks its original frame, art historians agree that it's a Jan van Eyck painting, but disagree about its interpretation.

Above the concave mirror on the back wall, van Eyck has inscribed, "Johannes de eyck fuit hic 1934", which translates as "Jan van Eyck was here, 1434". Typically, though, a painting in 15th century Flanders would have been signed, "Jan van Eyck made this". 

The verbiage Jan van Eyck used in Arnolfini Portrait is what an eyewitness to a legal document would've used, fueling controversy about whether this is a wedding portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife, or a "power of attorney" painting in which the husband grants legal permission for his wife to act on his behalf during an absence.

arnolfini-portraitIf Arnolfini Portrait is a wedding portrait, we can safely surmise that Giovanni is 30 years old or younger: in 15th century Flanders, a marriage ultimatum was given to unmarried men who were thirty, with names of those who failed to marry recorded in the dreaded "Book of Disgrace".  

Jan van Eyck.  Arnolfini Portrait, 1434.  Oil on wood.  32 1/4" x 23 1/2".  National Gallery, London.

The German scholar Erwin Panofsy asserted in 1934 that Arnolfini Portrait was indeed a wedding portrait, with van Eyck seen in the mirror's reflection and his signature verifying his presence.  Corroborating this claim, various Arnolfini Portrait features are associated with matrimony:

  • the couple has removed their shoes in recognition of the sanctity of the bedchamber, turning it into a holy place;

  • the bedpost finial is a wooden statue of the patron saint of childbirth, Saint Margaret, a nod to the fertility sought in marriage;

  • the fruit on the windowsill and chest allude to abundance or fertility;

  • arnolfini portrait detailhonoring customs of the Renaissance, the woman's robe is cinched above her stomach, giving the appearance of pregnancy but intended to emphasize fertility

  • while the dog is a rare breed (affenpinscher) indicating the couple's prosperity, it is also a traditional symbol of fidelity (thanks to Gardner's Fred Kleiner for noting that the common dog name "Fido" comes from the Latin fido, to trust, the root of ‘fidelity);

  • the ten roundels surrounding the mirror show the Passion of Christ, suggesting the Christian idea that the "eye of God" will watch the newlywed couple. 

Research by Lorne Campbell in 1998, however, contends that Arnolfini Portrait is a double portrait and not a wedding picture. Campbell states that the wedding ceremony Panofsky cited in his argument occurred in 1447 -- four years after Jan van Eyck signed Arnolfini Portrait, and also six years after van Eyck's death.

Barring newly discovered historical documents, Arnolfini Portrait will remain enigmatic, with the intentions of the artist and patron unclear. 

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