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Famous Paintings Reviewed

Famous Paintings at Art Institute of Chicago

Posted by Susan Benford

The Art Institute of Chicago houses some of the most famous paintings in all of Western art history.  Period.

With some 300,000 famous works of art spread out over nearly a million square mary cassatt childs bath resized 600feet, it also has all the trappings of an overwhelming experience!

Take along this curated list of famous paintings at the Art Institute as a starting itinerary. Click the links to read the history behind each work and to discover more about its painter: 

  • Bacon, Francis.  Head Surrounded by Sides of Beef 

  • Bonheur, Rosa.  Going to Market. Read about another of her best paintings, Plowing in the Nivernais.

  • Caillebotte, Gustave.  Paris Street: Rainy Day.  Now one of the most famous painters in Impressionism, he was better known in his time as a collector. 

  • Cassatt, Mary.  The Child’s Bath, left. 

  • Cezanne, Paul.  The Basket of Apples.  Explore more famous paintings by Cezanne like Bathers and Card Players Read about the astonishing Paul Cezanne paintings of his wife, shown in a 2015 Met show. 

  • Cezanne, Paul.  Madame Cezanne in a Yellow Chair, right. How many of these major 20 Cezanne paintings from U.S. and European art museums have you seen? 

  • Cole, Thomas.  Distant View of Niagra Falls

  • madame cezanne yellow chair resized 600Constable, John.  Stoke-by-Nayland

  • Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille.  Interrupted Reading. This compelling work will make you wish Corot exhibited his portraiture, not just his landscape paintings and history paintings. 

  • Courbet, Gustave.  Mere Gregoire

    Right: Cezanne, Madame Cezanne in a Yellow Chair

  • Dali, Salvador.  Mae West’s Face Which May be Used as a Surrealist Apartment

  • David, Jacques Louis.  Madame de Pastoret and Her Son.  Learn about other David paintings, like Napoleon Crossing the Alps (done by donkey, and not by the glorious steed David painted), Death of Marat and Death of Socrates 

  • De Kooning, Willem.  Excavation.  Read an analysis of Excavation (at left) and discover how de Kooning paintings shaped and helped define modern art. 

  • dekooning excavation resized 600Degas, Hillaire-Germain-Edgar.  The Millinery Shop

  • Delacroix, Eugene. The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan.  Read an analysis of Liberty Leading the People, one of the best paintings by Delacroix, and learn why hats matter.  Yes, hats.

    Left: Willem de Kooning, Excavation 

  • El Greco.  Assumption of the Virgin. One of Greece's most famous painters, El Greco is well known for his Burial of Count Orgaz. Explore his View of Toledo, too!

  • Gauguin, Paul.  Mahana no atua (Day of the God)

  • Gonzales, Eva.  Girl with Cherries. Taught by one of the most famous painters of art history, Edouard Manet, Gonzales was his sole known student.  Her stunning Girl with Cherries is evocative of one of the lesser known Manet paintings, Street Singers.  Think cherries! 

  • Gorky, Arshile.  The Plow and the Song (II)

    Right: Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom

  • Goya.  Friar Pedro Shoots El Maragato as His Horse Runs Off. One of a charming series of small, intimate works. Explore some influential Goya paintings, including his heart-wrenching The Third of May 1808.  And don't miss Duchess of Alba, and one of the most poignant self-portraits in art history, Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta

  • Hartley, Marsden.  Movements

  • david hockney american collectors resized 600Hockney, David.  American Collectors, right. 

  • Homer, Winslow.  Croquet Game 

  • Hopper, Edward.  Nighthawks. Read the art history behind and an analysis of Nighthawks

    Right: David Hockney, American Collectors

  • Ingres.  Amedee-David, Comte de Pastoret.  Investigate two masterpieces by Ingres, Grande Odalisque and his two portraits of Madame Moitessier.

  • Kandinsky, Vasily.  Improvisation No. 30 (Cannons)

  • Lawrence, Jacob.  The Wedding.  Learn about the extraordinary series of Jacob Lawrence paintings called The Migration Series.  

  • Magritte, Rene.  Time Transfixed (La Duree poignardee)

  • Manet, Edouard.  Beggar with Oysters (Philosopher) and Beggar with a Duffle Coat (Philosopher). Discover these works by Edouard Manet: Luncheon in the Studio, The Street Singer, Olympia, and The Old Musician

  • Matisse, Henri.  Bathers by a River (below) and Interior at Nice.  See the works in the Metropolitan museum's blockbuster show of Matisse paintings.   Discover two of hismatisse bathers by river best paintings which are in the Hermitage, The Dance and The Music.  

    Read about The Yellow Dress.  Learn about one of his most renowned paintings anywhere, Red Studio.  

  • Miro, Joan.  The Policeman.   

  • Mitchell, Joan.  City Landscape.  Explore in this historical survey of female artists some of the overwhelming obstacles they faced and overcame.   

  • Modersohn-Becker, Paula.  Still Life with Green Vase.  One of the most influential female painters of the 19th century, Modersohn-Becker influenced art history in her brief 31 year life. 

  • Mondrian, Piet.  Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red and Gray

  • Monet, Claude.  Stacks of Wheat (End of Day, Autumn), right.

  • Morisot, Berthe.  Woman at Her Toilette.  Discover some of the best-known paintings of Berthe Morisot.  Learn about The Cradle

  • monet stacks of wheat resized 600Munch, Edvard.  Girl Looking out the Window.  Learn about his iconic painting, The Scream - and why the sky is so wildly colored. 

  • O’Keeffe, Georgia.  Cow's Skull with Calico Roses.  Explore the series of O'Keeffe paintings titled Jack in the Pulpit. 

    Right. Claude Monet, Stacks of Wheat (End of Day, Autumn)

  • Picasso. Mother and Child and Old Guitarist.  Explore Girl Before a Mirror; Portrait of Gertrude Stein; and his astonishing series of 58 paintings titled Las Meninas

  • Pippin, Horace.  The Wedding. Learn about the life and works of Horace Pippin

  • Pollock, Jackson.  Greyed Rainbow and The Key

  • Poussin, Nicolas.  Landscape with Saint John on Patmos. Compare it with Assumption of the Virgin. 

  • Puvis de Chavannes.  The Sacred Grove

  • Rembrandt.  Old Man with a Gold Chain, left.  Explore some of the leading Rembrandt rembrandt old man gold chain resized 600paintings in the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, including the newly conserved Night Watch.

  • Reynolds, Sir Joshua.  Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces

  • Rivera, Diego.  The Weaver.  Learn about one of the most astonishing female artists, Frida Kahlo, the wife of Rivera. 

  • Rosetti, Dante Gabriel.  Beata Beatrix

  • Rubens.  The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth & John the Baptist.  Read an analysis of Rubens' Venus and Adonis.  

  • Sanchez-Cotan, Juan.  Still Life with Game Fowl.  One of Spain's most famous painters, Juan Sanchez-Cotan is Spain's first still life painter with existing works. 

  • Sargent, John Singer. The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy.  Explore Sargent's Madame X.  Looking at it now, you wouldn't know it ranks as one of the most controversial paintings in art history!   Don't miss his mysterious Smoke of Ambergris and El Jaleo. 

  • Seurat, Georges.  A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

  • grant wood american gothic resized 600Simpson, John Philip.  Captured Slave.  Although a comparatively unknown painter, Simpson painted this wrenching portrait in 1827, a time when slavery was highly contentious.

  • Tanner, Henry Ossawa.  The Two Disciples at the Tomb.  Now recognized as one of the 19th century's famous painters, Henry Ossawa Tanner had a remarkable background.

    Right, Grant Wood, American Gothic

  • Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri de.  At the Moulin Rouge

  • Turner, Joseph Mallord William.  Fishing Boats with Hucksters Bargaining for Fish.  Learn about one of Turner's best paintings, The Fighting Temeraire

  • Warhol, Andy.  Mao, below.  At nearly 15' tall, you can't (and don't want to) miss this. Explore his Gold Marilyn and the Marilyn Diptych. 

  • andy warhol mao resized 600Whistler, James McNeil.  Nocturne: Blue and Gold--Southampton Water, 1872.  

  • Read about the painting by which he is best known, Whistler's Mother. 

  • Wood, Grant.  American Gothic, right.

  • Zurbaran, Francisco de.  The Crucifixion

Download this information in our (free) ebook.

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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 Reading List: 50+ great reads in fiction and non-fiction

Art History Videos on YouTube

Cave Paintings

Most Controversial Paintings

Google Art ProjectArt Museums Up Close

Survey of Female Artists

Survey of Renaissance Paintings.

Art History Beyond Europe

A few forays into art outside Europe:

African Art and Bocio

African Mask of Idia


Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Great Wave

The Terracotta Warriors