Famous Paintings at Met2017-09-15T14:31:05+00:00

Famous Paintings at the Met

The collection of famous paintings at the Metropolitan Museum is one of the world’s most comprehensive – and overwhelming.  This 2 million square foot facility houses 2 million works of art spanning 5,000 years of art history.

How can you see some of the most famous paintings at the Metropolitan – while staying focused? Take along this itinerary!

When I first began frequenting art museums, I wanted to know which famous paintings shaped art history, which art museums housed them, and what political and social forces influenced the famous painters (Yep, I was in a hurry to learn art history!)

I did loads of art history research to learn which of the Met’s paintings were discussed most often by art history experts.  The results:

  • Balthus.  Nude Before a Mirror.  Oil on canvas, 1955
  • Bierstadt, Albert. The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak. Oil on canvas, 1863.
  • Bonheur, Marie-Rosalie (Rosa). The Horse Fair. Oil on canvas, 1853.  Below.
  • Boucher, Francois.  The Toilet of Venus.  Oil on canvas, 1751.
Rosa Bonheur. The Horse Fair, 1853-55.  Oil on canvas, 8' 1/4" by 16' 7".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Rosa Bonheur. The Horse Fair, 1853-55.  Oil on canvas, 8′ 1/4″ by 16′ 7″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Campin (The Master of Flemalle), Robert. Merode Altarpiece (Triptych of the Annunciation). Tempera and oil on wood, 1425 – 1430
  • Caravaggio, (Michelangelo Merisi). The Musicians. Oil on canvas, ca. 1595.  See below.  Is it four young men, or two viewed from different angles? Answers are in Masterpiece Cards! Read about more Caravaggio paintings, including Conversion of St. PaulCardsharps and Fortune Teller.
Caravaggio.  The Musicians, ca. 1595.  Oil on canvas, 36 1/4" by 46 5/8".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Caravaggio.  The Musicians, ca. 1595.  Oil on canvas, 36 1/4″ by 46 5/8″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Christus, Petrus. A Goldsmith in his Shop, Possibly St. Eligius. Tempera and oil on wood, 1449
  • Cole, Thomas. View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, MA, after a Thunderstorm (The Oxbow). Oil on canvas, 1836.  Below.
Thomas Cole.  View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm - The Oxbow, 1836.  Oil on canvas, 51 1/2" by 76".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Thomas Cole.  View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm – The Oxbow, 1836.  Oil on canvas, 51 1/2″ by 76″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Constable, John. Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds. Oil on canvas, ca. 1825
  • Courbet, Gustave. Woman with a Parrot. Oil on canvas, 1866
  • Daumier, Honore. The Third Class Carriage. Oil on canvas, 1863 – 1865.  Below. An ardent defender of the poor and those who could, as here, only afford third-class rail tickets, Daumier frequently portrayed those displaced by industrialism.
Honore-Victorin Daumier.  The Third-Class Carriage, ca. 1863-65.  Oil on canvas, 25 3/4" by 35 1/2".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Honore-Victorin Daumier.  The Third-Class Carriage, ca. 1863-65.  Oil on canvas, 25 3/4″ by 35 1/2″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • David, Jacques-Louis. Death of Socrates. Oil on canvas, 1787.
  • Eakins, Thomas. Max Schmitt in a Single Scull. Oil on canvas, 1871
  • El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). View of Toledo. Oil on canvas, circa 1604 – 1614. Is this, one of the best known El Greco paintings, real or imagined? It’s some of each, as explained by the art analysis in Masterpiece Cards.
El Greco. View of Toledo, ca. 1604-14. Oil on canvas, 47 3/4" by 42 3/4".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

El Greco. View of Toledo, ca. 1604-14. Oil on canvas, 47 3/4″ by 42 3/4″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Goya, Francisco de. Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga. Oil on canvas, circa 1798.
  • Hartley, Marsden. Portrait of a German Officer. Oil on canvas, 1914. In this famous painting, Hartley eulogizes a young Prussian lieutenant.

    Marsden Hartley. Portrait of a German Officer, 1914. Oil on canvas, 68 1/4" by 41 3/8".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

    Marsden Hartley. Portrait of a German Officer, 1914. Oil on canvas, 68 1/4″ by 41 3/8″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique. Princess de Broglie. Oil on canvas, 1853
  • Kauffmann, Angelica. Telemachus and the Nymphs of Calypso. Oil on canvas, 1783.  Below. Kauffmann was one of the most prominent female artists of her era. Astonishingly, she was forbidden – like other female painters – from sketching nude models of either gender.
Angelica Kauffmann.  Telemachus and the Nymphs of Calypso, 1782.  Oil on canvas, 32 1/2" by 44 1/4".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Angelica Kauffmann.  Telemachus and the Nymphs of Calypso, 1782.  Oil on canvas, 32 1/2″ by 44 1/4″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Labille-Guiard, Adelaide. Self-Portrait with Two Pupils. Oil on canvas, 1785
  • Louis, Morris. Alpha-Pi. Acrylic on canvas, 1961. Morris’ paintings were considered “breakthrough” in art history — literally and figuratively!
Morris Louis.  Alpha-Pi, 1960.  Magna on canvas, 102 1/2" by 177".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Morris Louis.  Alpha-Pi, 1960.  Magna on canvas, 102 1/2″ by 177″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Matisse, Henri. Promenade Among the Olive Trees. Oil on canvas, 1905.
  • Memling, Hans. Maria Baroncelli Portinari and Tommaso di Folco Portinari. Oil on wood, circa 1470
  • Modigliani, Amedeo. Reclining Nude.  Oil on canvas, 1917
  • Monet, Claude. Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (In Sun).  Oil on canvas, 1894.
  • Murillo, Bartolome Esteban. The Virgin and Child. Oil on canvas, 1675 – 1680
Georgia O'Keeffe.  Black Iris, 1926.  Oil on canvas, 36" by 29 7/8".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Georgia O’Keeffe.  Black Iris, 1926.  Oil on canvas, 36″ by 29 7/8″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • O’Keeffe, Georgia. Black Iris III, Oil on canvas, 1926.
  • Panini, Giovanni Paolo. Modern Rome. Oil on canvas, 1757.
  • Picasso, Pablo. Portrait of Gertrude Stein. Oil on canvas, 1906.
  • Pollock, Jackson. Autumn Rhythm (Number 30). Oil on canvas, 1950.
  • Rembrandt. Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer.  Oil on canvas, 1653.
  • Rubens, Peter Paul. Venus and Adonis.  Oil on canvas, circa 1635.
Peter Paul Rubens.  Venus and Adonis, mid or late 1630s.  Oil on canvas, 77 3/4" by 95 5/8".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Peter Paul Rubens.  Venus and Adonis, mid or late 1630s.  Oil on canvas, 77 3/4″ by 95 5/8″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Sargent, John Singer. Madame X. Oil on canvas, 1894.
  • Stuart, Gilbert. George Washington.  Oil on canvas, 1795
  • van Goyen, Jan. Pelkus Gate near Utrecht.  Oil on panel, 1646
  • Velazquez, Diego. Juan de Pareja.  Oil on canvas, 1650.  One of the few Velazquez paintings in the U.S.!
Peter Paul Rubens.  Venus and Adonis, mid or late 1630s.  Oil on canvas, 77 3/4" by 95 5/8".  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Peter Paul Rubens.  Venus and Adonis, mid or late 1630s.  Oil on canvas, 77 3/4″ by 95 5/8″.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Vermeer, Jan. Young Woman with a Water Pitcher.  Watteau, Jean-Antoine. Mezzetin.  Oil on canvas, circa 1718.