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Famous Works of Art

A single representative work of art per artist.

Logo of Famous Works of Art
First Published
Fri Apr 28 2023
Last Published
Thu Jul 27 2023
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Arnolfini Portrait

[Jan van Eyck]

Oil painting on oak panel by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. Believed to depict the Italian merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, presumably in their residence at the Flemish city of Bruges. One of the most original and complex paintings in Western art, because of its beauty, complex iconography, geometric orthogonal perspective, and expansion of the picture space with the use of a mirror.


Birth of Venus

[Sandro Botticelli]

By the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli in the Uffizi. Date is approximate.


The Garden of Earthly Delights

[Hieronymus Bosch]

By the Early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch. Date approximate. It has a pineapple depicted, so probably post-dates Columbus.


Mona Lisa

[Leonardo da Vinci]

By Leonardo da Vinci. Started on this date. Considered an archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance.


Venus of Urbino


An oil painting by the Italian painter Tiziano Vecelli (Titian), it depicts a nude young woman, traditionally identified with the goddess Venus, reclining on a couch or bed in the sumptuous surroundings of a Renaissance palace. Date approximate.


Portrait of Henry VIII

[Hans Holbein the Younger]

A famous lost work by the artist. A half-length portrait of Henry by Holbein is in the collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.


The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

[Pieter Bruegel the Elder]

Painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, it is a panorama of contemporary life in the Southern Netherlands.


The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

[El Greco]

A prominent Renaissance painter, sculptor, and architect of Greek origin. Widely considered among his finest works, it illustrates a popular local legend of his time. An exceptionally large painting, it is divided into two sections, heavenly above and terrestrial below, but it gives little impression of duality, since the upper and lower sections are brought together compositionally.


Judith Slaying Holofernes

[Artemisia Gentileschi]

The first version of this painting by the Italian early Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi. It shows Judith beheading Holofernes. The subject takes an episode from the apocryphal Book of Judith.


The Feast of Venus

[Peter Paul Rubens]

An oil on canvas painting by Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. It is a fanciful depiction of the Roman festival Veneralia celebrated in honor of Venus Verticordia. A statue of Venus Verticordia in a pudica pose is the focal point of the work. She is surrounded by attendants who, in turn, are encircled by dancing and cavorting cupids, satyrs, nymphs, and maenads. Rubens thought highly of Titian and made a copy of the Venetian master's The Worship of Venus, which influenced his painting. Date approximate.


The Night Watch

[Rembrandt van Rijn]

The painting is famous for three things: its colossal size, the dramatic use of light and shadow (tenebrism) and the perception of motion in what would have traditionally been a static military group portrait.


Girl with a Pearl Earring

[Johannes Vermeer]

An oil painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer.


The Hay Wain

[John Constable]

Depicts a rural scene on the River Stour between the English counties of Suffolk and Essex. Is regarded as "Constable's most famous image" and one of the greatest and most popular English paintings.


Liberty Leading the People

[Eugène Delacroix]

Commemorating the July Revolution (2nd French Revolution) in the year it was painted, which toppled King Charles X. A woman of the people with a Phrygian cap personifying the concept of Liberty leads a varied group of people forward over a barricade and the bodies of the fallen, holding the flag of the French Revolution – the tricolour, which again became France's national flag after these events – in one hand and brandishing a bayonetted musket with the other.


The Great Wave off Kanagawa


A woodblock print by Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, created during the Edo period of Japanese history. The print depicts three boats moving through a storm-tossed sea, with a large wave forming a spiral in the centre and Mount Fuji visible in the background.


Impression, Sunrise

[Claude Monet]

The painting is credited with inspiring the name of the Impressionist movement. It depicts the port of Le Havre, Monet's hometown, at sunrise, with the two small rowboats in the foreground and the red Sun being the focal elements.


A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

[Georges Seurat]

Georges Seurat's most famous work, and a leading example of pointillist technique.



[Vincent Van Gogh]

A series of still life paintings. The second series has the flowers in a vase, on this date. Many shades of yellow.


The Scream

[Edvard Munch]

The agonized face in the painting has become one of the most iconic images of art, seen as symbolizing the anxiety of the human condition. Munch's work, including The Scream, would go on to have a formative influence on the Expressionist movement. The Norwegian name of the piece is Skrik (Shriek), and the German title under which it was first exhibited Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature).


The Kiss

[Gustav Klimt]

An oil-on-canvas painting with added gold leaf, silver and platinum by the Austrian Symbolist painter, Klimt. The painting depicts a couple embracing each other, their bodies entwined in elaborate beautiful robes decorated in a style influenced by the contemporary Art Nouveau style and the organic forms of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement. Date approximate.


Composition with Red Blue and Yellow

[Piet Mondrian]

By Piet Mondrian, a Dutch artist who was a leading figure in the Neo-Plasticism movement. It consists of thick, black brushwork, defining the borders of colored rectangles.


The Persistence of Memory

[Salvador Dalí]

The well-known surrealist piece introduced the image of the soft melting pocket watch. It epitomizes Dalí's theory of "softness" and "hardness", which was central to his thinking at the time. Asked about the watches, Dalí replied that the soft watches were not inspired by the theory of relativity, but by the surrealist perception of a Camembert melting in the sun.




A grey, black, and white painting anti-war painting. Picasso painted this in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country town in northern Spain that was bombed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the request of the Spanish Nationalists.



[Edward Hopper]

Oil on canvas painting by Edward Hopper that portrays four people in a downtown diner late at night as viewed through the diner's large glass window. The light coming from the diner illuminates a darkened and deserted urban streetscape. It has been described as Hopper's best-known work and is one of the most recognizable paintings in American art.


The Son of Man

[René Magritte]

Painted near the end of his life, this self-portrait consists of a man in an overcoat and a bowler hat standing in front of a low wall, beyond which are the sea and a cloudy sky. The man's face is largely obscured by a hovering green apple.