Top 10 Famous Painters And Their Work
It is unfair to name just ten painters and single them out as the best when the list is much more vast but for our limited time and internet space we will stick with 10.
Each of the following artists is “responsible” for numerous beautiful paintings which reside in the worlds most renowned museums (like Louvre for example).
The order in which I will write about is not chronological or alphabetical so it is not a “the best to the worst” kid of list but more or less random.
Plenty or resources online get into deeper descriptions of these men and their life and personalities so feel free to explore by yourself.
So lets start with our list and I believe until we reach the end you will have a good overview and get you motivated to go to a museum or at least do your research for more details.
- Vincent van Gogh
Born in Netherlands in 1853 and dies in France in 1890, Van Gogh was a Post-Impressionist painter who is one of the most influential figures in the history of Western art.
He studied at the Willem II College Royal followed by the Academy of Fine Arts a few years later.
The Starry Night
The Potato Eaters
Café Terrace at Night
A little about his life:
His family was struggling financially so forced by circumstances he has to leave school and go to work in his uncle’s art dealership. This certainly helped him learn English, French , German and of course native Dutch. Later he was studying to become minister but due to latin language he was refused to take the exam considering it a “dead language”.
After this episode he moved to Brusells hoping to become an artist even though he didn’t have any art education at that time. His life brought him to difficult situation (catastrophic even) with women that were in trouble and since he wanted to help them more trouble followed (some of them were prostitutes).
Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese art and began studying eastern philosophy to enhance his art and life. He wanted to travel there, but was told by Toulouse-Lautrec that the light in the village of Arles was just like the light in Japan, meaning he didn’t have to go so far to be a good artist.
2. Pablo Picasso
Creator or cubism, Pablo Picasso was a spanish painter that can be considered one of the most influential artists of 20th century.
Believe it or not his actual name was “Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso”
A very interesting side note about him that I think helped him evolve was his mother’s saying “If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope”.
She definitely believed in his powers and he later confirmed replaying to her “Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” Since the beginning he was considered a bad student and disregarded his teacher’s lessons, complaining to a friend that “teachers go on and on about Michelangelo and Velazquez” instead of being more flexible and explore other avenues.
So this is what he did, he skipped school and went in the city to paint what he wanted gypsies, beggars and prostitutes.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
3. Leonardo da Vinci
You really don’t have to be an art savvy to hear about Leonardo da Vinci or Mona Lisa. Even Louis Vuitton created a new bag with the famous painting exposed in Louvre.
But just in case you never heard of him, Leonardo was an Italian Renaissance leading artist and intellectual.
The Last Supper
Since early age Leonardo didn’t receive any special education except basic reading, writing and mathematics but his talent evolved during his apprenticeship in Florence with the artist Andrea del Verrocchio. His teacher asked (according to writings) Leonardo’s help in finishing a painting and after completion was so surprised and awed by his pupil’s skill that he didn’t paint again.
Leonardo’s fame grew while he was employed as architecture and military engineering advisor as well as a painter and sculptor for Lorenzo de’ Medici.
4. Claude Monet
Founder of the french impressionist painting, Claude Monet was born in 1840 in Paris. It is said that a critic wanted to insult Monet told him that he was more interested in light and form than realism. So the term stuck which created the impressionism style of painting. Due to financial problems he even tried suicide in the river Seine.
After the war in 1872 he came back to France and eventually remained in Argenteuil and began to develop his own technique and style. Monet also visited with many of his artist friends, including Renoir, Pissarro and Edouard Manet—who, according to Monet in a later interview, at first hated him because people confused their names. Banding together with several other artists, Monet helped form the Société Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs, as an alternative to the Salon and exhibited their works together.
Women in the Garden
Another Dutch painter (17th century) Rembrandt is knows for his self portraits and biblical scenes. His painting style is focused on light and majority of his works have large parts obscured in shadow. His light and dark painting games are meant to create focus points to something specific that he wanted the audience to see and later go into the more details of the peace.
This can be seen in Judas Repentant and Returning the Pieces of Silver, or Peter and Paul Disputing.
The Night Watch
The Anatomy Lesson
During what is called The Third Amsterdam Period , Rembrandt’s work diminished , meaning he didn’t paint as much or didn’t receive commissions , but it is also speculated it is due to artistic issues.
Not primarily a painter but a sculptor and architect, Michelangelo was one of the biggest renaissance men. He sculpted “David” and “Pieta” statues and the Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Since he was not interested in family business (finances) his father decided to apprentice him to painter Domenico Ghirlandaio where he was exposed to the technique of fresco.
The vivid vignettes of Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling produce a kaleidoscope effect, with the most iconic image being the “Creation of Adam,” Images God touching the finger of man.
The Last Judgement
Sistine Chapel ceiling
7. Gustav Klimt
The Austrian painter Gustav Klimt is famous for many artworks the most important is The Kiss and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
Commissioned in 1903 by Bloch-Bauer’s wealthy industrialist husband, the work remained in the family’s possession until it was seized by the Nazis during World War II. Ultimately displayed in the Austrian State Gallery, the painting remained there until one of Bloch-Bauer’s nieces, Maria Altmann, filed suit against Austria for its return. Altmann won her case in 2006, and the painting was sold at auction in June of that year for $135 million, making it the most money ever paid for a work of art at auction. The work’s storied past has been the subject of numerous books and documentaries, and most recently is the focus of the film Woman in Gold, which stars Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann.
Judith and the Head of Holofernes
17th century Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer is known for his “Girl with a Pearl Earring” painting and “The Milkmaid”.
A lot of Vermeer’s works are centered on domestic scenes like “The Milkmaid”. This showcases two of his trademarks: his realistic renderings of figures and objects, and his fascination with light. Many of his works have a luminous quality, including the portrait “Girl with a Pearl Earring” . This captivating portrait of a young woman inspired the 1999 novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, as well as a 2003 film adaptation of this book.
It is said that just 36 of his paintings exist so a very small number.
Girl with a Pearl Earring
9. Edvard Munch
Norvegian painter, Munch is well know for his painting The scream “The Cry” .
Raphael is a leading figure in the Italian renaissance period. He is well known for his “madonnas” including works in the Vatican.
He was taken under tutelage by painter Perugino but soon left for Florence where he was inspiredby Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and others.
One of his most important work is Transfiguration along the line with The School of Athens.
The School of Athens
All these amazing artists influenced our current esthetics, each building on top of the general knowledge of another. It is fascinating to go deeper into each of their biographies and discover their internal struggles and evolution. Majority of these fantastic painters didn’t receive the “glory” during their lifetime and a lot of their artwork was lost during the years or destroyed but their spirit and mastery can be seen today in the marvelous galleries for anyone interested in beauty to see.
Until next time