History of Art Institute of Chicago
In 1866, a group of 35 artists founded the Chicago School of Design, now called the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The school constructed a building in 1870, but in less than a year, the Great Fire of Chicago destroyed it. As a result, the School operated from temporary space until moving into its present location, a Beaux-Art building made for the 1893 Columbian Expo.
Since then, The Art Institute of Chicago has added exhibition space, including a 264,000 square foot Modern Wing designed by Renzo Piano.
Famous Paintings at Art Institute of Chicago
The sheer number of influential paintings here makes a visit to this museum a must for fans of art history. With some 300,000 works of art exhibited in nearly a million square feet, the Art Institute also has all the trappings of an overwhelming experience!
Take along this curated list of famous paintings at Art Institute of Chicago as a starting itinerary (and read below about the research backing selection of these works):
Bacon, Francis. Head Surrounded by Sides of Beef (Figure with Meat)*
Bonheur, Rosa. Going to Market. Read about another Bonheur work, Plowing in the Nivernais
Caillebotte, Gustave. Paris Street: Rainy Day. Now one of the most famous Impressionist painters, he was better known in his time as a collector – the works he bequeathed to the Louvre Museum formed its foundation of Impressionist paintings.
Cassatt, Mary. The Child’s Bath.
Cole, Thomas. Distant View of Niagra Falls
Courbet, Gustave. Mere Gregoire
David, Jacques Louis. Madame de Pastoret and Her Son. Learn about other David paintings, like Napoleon Crossing the Alps (actually done by donkey, and not by the glorious steed David painted), Death of Marat and Death of Socrates.
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.
Gauguin, Paul. Mahana no atua (Day of the God)
Gogh, Vincent van. The Bedroom. Explore other Vincent van Gogh paintings like Potato Eaters, and the seldom seen van Gogh paintings at the Hermitage including Portrait of Madame Trabuc. And who isn’t smitten with his Starry Night?
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!
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.
Hockney, David. American Collectors*. Above left.
Homer, Winslow. Croquet Game
Hopper, Edward. Nighthawks*. Above right. One of the most famous paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago. Learn about Nighthawks.
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. Bathers by a River (left) , which he considered to be one of his five most pivotal works, and Interior at Nice. Read about the recent Metropolitan Museum’s blockbuster show of Matisse paintings. Discover two of his best paintings, The Dance and The Music, which are in the Hermitage. Read about The Yellow Dress, and 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.
Monet, Claude. Stacks of Wheat (End of Day, Autumn).
O’Keeffe, Georgia. Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses. Explore the series of O’Keeffe paintings titled Jack in the Pulpit.
Pippin, Horace. The Wedding. Learn about the life and works of Horace Pippin.
Puvis de Chavannes, Pierre Cecile. The Sacred Grove, Beloved of the Arts and the Muses.*
Rembrandt. Old Man with a Gold Chain. Explore some of the leading Rembrandt paintings in the Rijksmuseum.
Rivera, Diego. The Weaver. Learn about one of the most astonishing female artists, Frida Kahlo, the wife of Rivera.
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 (see above). One of Spain’s most famous painters, Juan Sanchez-Cotan is Spain’s first still life painter. There are only 6 Juan Sanchez Cotan paintings still existing… so don’t miss this.
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*. Above. One of the most famous paintings at Art Institute of Chicago, this work is an example of the theory of Divisionism. In it, each color is divided into its component parts instead of being mixed as pigments and painted onto a canvas. As a result, the colors mix in the viewer’s eye when viewed at the right distance.
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.
Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri de. At the Moulin Rouge*. Above. Toulouse-Lautrec, a dwarf, stands to the left of the very tall man in the back of the room.
Turner, Joseph Mallord William. Fishing Boats with Hucksters Bargaining for Fish. Learn about one of Turner’s most highly regarded paintings, The Fighting Temeraire.
Whistler, 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*. Above left. Not only one of the most famous paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago… but one of the best know works by any American painter.
Zurbaran, Francisco de. The Crucifixion
Are you a fan of famous paintings?
We thought so! So is Masterpiece Cards. We researched which paintings were most often discussed in some 17,000 pages of art history books, identified the top 250 works, selected art historians’ essays about them, secured images of each work… and packaged all this into Masterpiece Cards. The paintings marked by an * asterisk are ones featured in the Cards.
This set of art history flashcards explores and explains 250 of the most highly regarded paintings made from the Renaissance through Pop Art.
Each 4″ by 6″ Card tells the history of the work and its vital facts along with a museum-approved reproduction.
Look at sample Cards!
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