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Top 10 Famous Paintings of All Time

Updated on April 22, 2014

The world possesses many art-works established as the masterpieces. And every masterpiece has its followers and admirers. Moreover, maybe the paintings could have greater or lower price tags on them, but their artistic value is priceless.

So, it was very hard to choose just top ten of them, because every famous painting has its own legacy and uniqueness. But, forced to choose, here is the list of top-ten famous paintings in the world.

10. WHISTLER’S MOTHER By James McNeil Whistler

Whistler’s Mother is easily recognized art-work by its appearance in the Rowan Atkinson’s movie Bean. It’s an oil-on-canvas by an American born artist James McNeil Whistler in 1871. Its official name is Arrangement in Grey and Black, but became famous by its current name. It is a depiction of the artist’s mother, Anna McNeil Whistler. The art-work is so popular in American culture that it has appeared in numerous shows, films and parodied works. Becoming the symbol of “Motherhood” and “Family Values”, the American post office released a stamp showing the image of Whistler’s Mother. Because of its fame and artistic accomplishments, it is sometimes stated as American Icon and Victorian Mona Lisa. Currently, it’s located at Musee d’Orsay, Paris.

Whistler's Mother
Whistler's Mother

9. THE SCREAM By Edvard Munch

Filled with dismay, sadness and awe, The Scream is a painting made by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch in 1893. Initially, it has four versions, one painted and other three pastels.

Aside from its artistic and emotional value, its value in money is also very high. In 2012, the forth pastel version was sold for record-breaking $ 119,922,600 in an auction. And that’s the reason many art-thefts are interested in the painting. Different versions have been stolen in the past, but now all of them are recovered unharmed. There is also a Norwegian postal stamp representing the painting. Pointing to its fame in general culture, there are some TV series and books which include the painting in their stories.

The Scream
The Scream


Inspired from the American concept of American Gothic House, the artist Grant Wood depicted the people he thought should live in such house. It is considered as one of the most recognizable paintings of twentieth century. The models for the painting were artist’s sister and dentist. In portrait, there are represented as daughter and father. The pitchfork in man’s hand is a symbol of the hard labor. Its popularity in American culture can be seen, when like many other paintings this one also comes in numerous films, TV-series and as a parodied work in many other types of Media.

American Gothic
American Gothic

7. GUERNICA By Pablo Picasso

Guernica is a masterpiece by the renowned 20th century artist Pablo Picasso. It is a demonstration of infamous bombing on the town of Guernica, Spain. Picasso wanted to draw world’s attention to those inhuman bombings on the town. In this 3.5 x 7.8 meters oil-on-canvas painting, there is a mixture of elements like a bull, a horse, a woman with a dead child, a light bulb, a soldier’s arm and supposedly some hidden objects. All represents the chaos and violence of the bombings. This 1937 portrait is one of the most famous works done by Pablo Picasso.


6. NO. 5 By Jackson Pollock

Made in 1948, No. 5, 1948 is an oil-on-fiberboard painting made by American painter Jackson Pollock in his own style of drip painting. He used to have canvas lied on the ground and then make the painting by dripping the colors on it by knives, sticks, towels and other foreign objects which are not used in regular style of painting. Because of its uniqueness and artistic value, in 2006, the painting sold for around $ 140 million, becoming the second highest price paid for any painting. Painter Jackson Pollock have left us a new style of abstract expressionism by this portrait.

No. 5
No. 5

5. GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING By Johannes Vermeer

Sometimes referred as “The Dutch Mona Lisa”, Girl with a Pearl Ear-ring is a portrait of a girl depicted by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It was painted around 1665, when portraying just a head was not considered as a portrait. In his time, Johannes Vermeer couldn’t sell the painting for much, but today, it’s one of the most admired paintings in art-world. In present time, we can find it at Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague.

Girl with a Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring


The School of Athens is a fresco in Apostolic Palace, Vatican by a prominent artist of renaissance era Raphael Sanzio. He made this fresco in two years on the wall of the Apostolic Palace. Paintings shows all the major figures of the school including famous philosophers and savants like Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Pythagoras and many others. Every figure is doing different activities. The central figures of the painting are Plato on the left and Aristotle on the right. In this grand picture, Raphael has put big efforts. In modern world, this kind of work and artistic knowledge gives new artist a great inspiration.

The School of Athens
The School of Athens

3. THE CREATION OF ADAM By Michelangelo

Second fresco art in the list, The Creation of Adam, was made by the celebrated renaissance era artist Michelangelo. It’s is a part of the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco, which consists many incidents from holy bible. This is the most popular part of the entire fresco.

It represents the moment when Adam, the first man, received life from God. Adam lying on the ground and God giving life by a single touch of finger. Though, the touch is not depicted in the scene. It is said that the fame of this piece is only achieved by Mona Lisa. As every famous painting has, this one also possesses the parodies and imitations in modern culture.

Creation of Adam
Creation of Adam

2. THE LAST SUPPER By Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper is a mural art painted by the renowned artist Leonardo da Vinci on a wall of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Mila, Italy. Allegedly, it was painted in 1495. The painting depicts the act of the last supper, when Jesus and his twelve disciples are taking dinner. At that time, Jesus reveals that one of his disciples would betray him. On this news, every disciple’s reactions are portrayed in this mural. Many controversies and speculations has aroused by this art-work. Most of them revolving around, allegedly depiction of Jesus and Mary in it. The painting has been restored three times, in which the last restoration took three years to complete. Currently, it is open to general public.

The Last Supper
The Last Supper

1. MONA LISA By Leonardo da Vinci

The second artwork by Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa is the greatest and most renowned art-piece of all time in the history. No other painting has gained fame and popularity as much as this single painting has gained in 500 years of its lifespan. Bearing the world-records of Most Imitated, most written about and most parodied work of art; it is the best-known portrait of all the time. The reason of its fame is the revolutionary work in its depiction and the “secret of the smile” of the woman. Every one’s baffling about if the woman is smiling or not. That’s the mystery. It is still unsolved. There is even a story about a French artist named Luc Maspero committed suicide leaving a note saying he preferred death after years of struggling to understand the mystery behind the woman’s smile. Any list for famous paintings is not complete without having this masterpiece.

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa

Your Favorite Painting

Which is your favorite painting from above mentioned list?

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Any reason why Starry, Starry Night was not included by Vincent Van Gogh? I don't recall a song being written about the Gothic painting

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I would not use such a grand statement a lot of these are very far from being the most famous paintings of all time. Where is Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, no damoiselles?!

    • profile image

      Bobby Joe 

      3 years ago

      I went for The Scream

    • profile image 

      3 years ago

      I have a painting I inherited trying to find out something about it where can I do this can I send a picture it's a oil painting 3/4 figure of a man in a suit an is old the man I acquired from was in his mother's house growing up an he was 89 thanks if you can direct me

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      this is stupid


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