mona lisa smileLove reading analysis of famous paintings? Discover more about 250 of the best paintings in the history of art with the Famous Paintings ebook.  It names names (and titles, art museums, and dates), with links to in-depth commentary about the works.  Explore must-see masterpieces in US and European art museums! 

Download 250 Paintings ebook

It'll make you smile. 

Join this Blog - (we'd love your thoughts, too!)

Your email:

Feeling Lucky?

famous paintings cards






Good - because we're feeling generous. Join this blog and earn a chance to win a FREE set of these art history cards (a $75 value). 

Enter Me to Win!

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

Book of Kells

Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights

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

Duccio, Maesta

Duncanson, Robert Seldon.  Art History Welcomes Duncanson 

Durer, The Four Apostles

Dutch Painters at the Frick Collection, 2013-2014 Show

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

Horace Pippin.  Life and Work

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

Sargent, Smoke of Ambergris

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

van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait

van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb

van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece

van Gogh, Patience Escalier

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

Vincent van Gogh paintings up to 1889

Vincent van Gogh paintings, 1888-1890

Overview of works and life of Diego Velazquez 

Velazquez, Pope Innocent X

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

Famous Paintings ebook

This free ebook has a wealth of facts and articles about the 250 influential paintings in Masterpiece Cards.

Did we mention it's free?

Famous Paintings Reviewed

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Vermeer Paintings: Girl with the Red Hat


An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

Of the 36 known Johannes Vermeer paintings, none is more spellbinding than The Girl with the Red Hat.  In pure art history terms, it stands out in two ways:

  • vermeer paintings girl red hatits subject gazes directly at the viewer - in most Vermeer paintings, his figure or figures are isolated; and

  • it's the only Vermeer painting on panel that survives.

I'll add a third: The Girl with the Red Hat is one of the most famous works of art... in an art museum overflowing with famous art, the National Gallery of Art. 

Johann Vermeer.  The Girl with The Red Hat, ca. 1665-1666.  Oil on panel.  Painted surface 9 by 7 1/16"; framed 15 7/8 x 14 x 1 3/4".  Andrew W. Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

At first glance, The Girl looks like a portrait. Most likely, though, it is a tronie, a type of painting study that explored imaginary costume and expression and flourished in the Dutch Golden Age. 

Tronie or portrait, this Vermeer painting is, inch per inch, one of the most dazzling in European art history. 

At 9 by 7 1/8 inches, The Girl with the Red Hat is curiously small; its size reflects the response of Dutch painters to decorating trends in 17th century middle-class Flemish and Dutch homes.  These families often had specific rooms for exhibiting small paintings, called kabinetstukken (or cabinet pieces).  Dutch painters like Vermeer (and Pieter de Hooch) were commissioned to create small scale paintings for these spaces, so that these citizens significantly shaped the development of painting and collecting in 17th century Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam and Antwerp. 

Art historians generally concur that Vermeer used a camera obscura, a pre-photography device used to project images.  This device turns small reflections of light into tiny pinpoints or highlights; these are seen on the girl's earrings, the tip of her nose, in her vermeer paintings woman holding balanceeyes, and on the chair's lion-head finials (as well as in numerous other Vermeer paintings like Woman Holding a Balance, right).  

The Girl looks momentarily startled, as if she'd just turned toward the viewer and gasped. Her surprise leaves you with questions of her. And conjecture.

As in most Vermeer paintings, the viewer isn't allowed beyond the immediacy of the scene presented.  Frederick Hartt makes a marvelous generalization about Vermeer paintings: 

No matter what Vermeer may suggest or summarize of the outer world or invite the spectator to imagine, wisdom begins and ends in the room, conceived as a cube of shining space in which the figures and their transitory actions seem forever suspended in light. (1)

Imagine what you will, but wisdom begins and ends in any rooms painted by Vermeer, now accepted, along with Rembrandt, as one of the most influential Dutch painters.  It's hard to fathom that when Vermeer died in 1675, his wife declared bankruptcy to support herself and their (gulp) eleven children, and sold many Vermeer paintings for a song.  

Oh, to time travel! 

Johann Vermeer.  Woman Holding a Balance, ca. 1664.  Oil on canvas, painted surface 15 5/8 x 14"; framed 24 3/4 x 23 x 3.  Widener Collection.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 

1. Frederick Hartt, Art: A History of Paintings, Sculpture, Architecture, 4th ed., 2 vols. (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1993), p. 829. 

Interested in reading about more Vermeer paintings? Explore The Allegory of Painting.

Like what you read here? Consider joining this art history blog, which primarily discusses famous paintings from the Western history of art... but also checks in on current art history exhibits, discoveries in art history, and other goodies to keep it fascinating. Sign in on the right.



"Girl with the red hat" looks remarkably similar to "Girl with a flute" and the model for "The art of painting." I have often wondered if these models were possibly some of his 11 children. Certainly his wife was painted more than once in her ermine fur. Anthony bailey has some interesting conjectures in his book "Vermeer, A view of Delft."
Posted @ Saturday, October 22, 2011 1:53 PM by Brian
I think that Vermeer's windows, invariably on the left, which we associate with the direction west on a map, are symbolically representative of the opening of the New World in the west, which gave Holland its wealth in his century and made the Dutch Golden Age possible. Therefore his rooms are anything but isolated but are symbolic of the wide world, or rather of the impact of the current world on his countrymen. In The Astronomer he makes this symbolism plain. I think this symbolism is carried through in the several instances of pregant or non-pregnant women receiving letters which seem to be from that direction, representing the wealth coming into the country which would enrich its future. In the second painting reproduced, Woman with a Balance, the wealth is tangibly represented in the gold. I believe this theme of women reading letters is also on another level symbolic of the Annunication, quite disguised since Vermeer was a minority Catholic in a Protestant country and found it more politic to not paint overtly religious subjects which might draw attention to his faith. Nonetheless, as a believing Catholic he wanted to paint this kind of subject and therefore cloaked it in an everyday occurrence.
Posted @ Sunday, October 23, 2011 10:07 PM by Charles Zigmund
Fascinating to think that Vermeer's models may have been some of his daughters! 
I've read the theory that "The Girl with a Flute" is a pendant to "The Girl with the Red Hat", which seems credible given that both depict young, open-mouth girls sporting fanciful hats; both works are on panel; both girls have dangly pearl earrings, and so on. 
BUT the National Gallery of Art lists "The Girl with a Flute" as a work "attributed to" Vermeer! The painting, which has been retouched over the years, is presently in restoration -- that leads me to wonder if new evidence suggests that this isn't a Vermeer.
Posted @ Monday, October 24, 2011 3:33 PM by Susan Benford
I have always loved Vemeer's work from the first moment I saw it.
Posted @ Sunday, December 18, 2011 9:49 PM by Nancy Pratt
I think you may be mistaken as regards the locattion of the painting. To my eye this definitely an 'interior' positioning. A chair like that would be indoors. The decorated wall behind is an interior scene. The lighting of the subject is that typical Dutch aspect of low window light and intensity, not the sharpness of exterior daylight.
Posted @ Monday, December 19, 2011 12:37 PM by donal heffernan
You're absolutely right -- this most definitely IS an interior. I've corrected my mistake, and appreciate greatly that you pointed it out. 
Susan Benford
Posted @ Saturday, December 31, 2011 6:25 PM by Susan Benford
I differ with the first of your comments which theorizes on the possibility on "V" using his children as modles in the pictures mencioned. 
The figure in the "Art of Painting" Clio has been me adopted second hand muse for a good 20 yrs and ,for a start there is little or no resemblance and secondly or rather the lack of hair and the rather elongated nose(although the curve of the nose could be a give-away)..In my opinion if the artist had intended for there to be a semblance..or indeedif she(?) was infact a brother/sorry sister of the afore mencioned ..for us laymen it is a bit "idle speculaccionish"considering the difficultys we have in intering the seventeenth century household let alone asking Madam Vermeers oppinion.
Posted @ Thursday, February 16, 2012 3:05 AM by alfred .w.hutchison
The art of paintings model is his wife in my opinion, as she is depicted in several paintings wearing an ermine fur. Girl with a Red hat, Flute and Pearl earings could be his children and they do have some resemblance to my theory that the other woman is their mother.
Posted @ Saturday, February 18, 2012 4:56 PM by Brian
Post Comment
Website (optional)

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics