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Famous paintings

From since humans first appeared on Earth million years ago, painting has been most probably the most famous way of artistic expression. From cave paintings of buffalos and hunters, to complex and abstract compositions, we-humans have left tracks of amazing art throughout different eras. Of course what is art and what is not has been subject to many debates, however no-one can argue that some paintings have endured the test of time and they are recognizable even from people that are less interested in art by others.

Here are the 10 most famous paintings of all time, ranked. Of course the order is subject to debate, but we will try our best.

10. Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830

Liberty Leading the People

Known as Liberty Leading the People, this painting from the Romantic period, has become synonymous with revolution, liberty and struggle. It has inspired other works of art and works of literature. Moreover, this painting was also the inspiration for the Statue of Liberty. It combines some of the most important elements of the Romantic period, like allegory and contemporary figures/elements. In addition the carefully painted characters can be seen as individuals apart from being part of the painting. Today the painting is seen as a symbol for democracy and human rights.

9. Claude Monet, Impression, Sunrise, 1874


Claude Monet laterally gave the movement “Impressionism” its name with this painting. In his famous painting we can see the defining elements of the famous movement-use of light and color. The painting depicts the port of Le Havre near the artist’s hometown.

8. Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1503–1515

Garden of Earthly Delights

The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of the defining pieces of Northern Renaissance. This triptych is one of the few surviving works of the most famous Dutch artist and there are many speculations and theories as to why he made it. What cannot be argued however is the mastery with which Bosch depicts every detail and landscape in this fascinating piece of art. If you want to learn more about this defining work from the 16th century, you can check our YouTube episode on Hieronymus Bosch.

7. Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907–1908

The Kiss

Klimt’s famous painting has become a symbol of Symbolism and Vienna Jugendstil, the Austrian variant of Art Nouveau. The artist inspired himself by the Byzantine mosaics of the Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna and used the same technique for his painting. This is Klimt’s most famous work from his most active years and the best example of his style-to represent his objects as mythical creatures.

6. Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937


This is definitely Picasso’s most famous painting. It is inspired by the bombing of the Basque city by the same name. Picasso depicts the horrors of war that took place during the bloody civil war in Spain. He gave the painting to the1937 World Fair in Paris. After the exhibition Guernica went on a world tour, before ending up at Museum of Modern Art in New York. Today, the painting is housed at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.

5. Andy Warhol, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964)

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn

This portrait of Marilyn Monroe is Warhol’s most famous painting. It is the absolute symbol of the Pop Art period and a statement of fame, beauty and high life. Many critics consider it the Mona Lisa of the 20th century. Moreover, this particular piece sold for US$195 million (£158 million) at Christie’s New York in 2022.

4. Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory, 1931

The Persistence of Memory

This is one of Dali’s most famous paintings. These melting clocks are a representation of Dali’s theory of Softness and Hardness which is central to the thinking of his time. It is a symbol of Surrealism as it defined not only one of the most important eras in art, but also became a trademark of Dali’s unique style. It currently sits in the museum of modern art, in New York.

3. Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, 1485–1486

The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus is one of the most famous paintings from the Renaissance period. It became famous, because of the lady’s beautiful face and also the coy posture while standing gracefully in a shell and other people celebrating her modesty. You can find it in Florence’s Uffizi Valley, Italy.

2. Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893

The Scream

This painting has inspired fashion, films, popular culture and in general we have all seen the famous face in some form, somewhere. However, did you know that its original name is Der Schrei der Natur in German. It is painted by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch and it is kept in the National Gallery of Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway.

1. Da Vinci, Mona Lisa, 1503

Mona Lisa

As you most probably guessed, the Mona Lisa should be the most famous painting ever made. Painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, it has sparkled various theories as to who Mona Lisa actually is, as well as conspiracy theories connected with religion and

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