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Top Ten Must Own Fine Art Posters

Updated on April 12, 2014

How they made the Top Ten

So how to decide what are the top ten fine art posters? You could base it on price paid for a particular piece of fine artwork, but that is only an indication of one person’s disposable income and not really a true sense of its worth. The other would be to judge it on how many people have visited a certain gallery, here again, you might love the piece of work but just not be able to travel halfway across the world to see it. Gathering a professional panel together to assess a paintings durability, influence and innovation. However these are all very subjective and you’d be hard pressed to get any group of academics that agree. So how to decide?

This is where the Internet plays perfectly into our hands; why not see how many hits a particular painting has received on Google Images. Not the perfect solution either but most definitely more indicative of an artists overall appeal but you can bet that you’ll see these images on bedroom art posters, lunch boxes, postcards and diary covers.

Here then are the top ten paintings by hits (remember search results may vary):-

10) Girl with a Pearl Earring

JohannesVermeer. This delicate 17th century masterpiece is kept safely away in the Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Vermeer’s famous painting is often referred to as the “Mona Lisa of the North” and was the inspiration for a book (1999), a film (2003) and play (2008) all of the same name. Vermeer wasn't a prolific painter but his work does demonstrate a masterful understanding of composition.

It is an oil on canvass piece, painted around 1667 in Delft of an unknown sitter for a little known reason. Whatever the story, Tracey Chevalier's novel, the film and the popular art poster have ensured it remains on of the most searched images.

9) The Scream

Edvard Munch. His worrying vision is on view in the National Museum of Norway, Oslo. Expressionist, Munch painted four versions of this iconic image of a screaming figure with the Norwegian landscape and distinctive red sky behind.

The eruption of Krakatoa a couple of years before is believed by some to be the result of the brilliant red sky in the picture and others talk about the figure being representative of his sister who spent time in a nearby asylum. The fourth painting, a pastel version from 1895 was sold at auction in 2012 for £74 million.

8) The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo Buonarotti. Adorning the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City was painted in 1511 as part of the biblical illustration surrounding the creation and downfall of mankind. Michelangelo worked on projects in the Vatican for over 40 years and the Sistine Chapel took him between 1508 and 1512 to complete and is considered one of the greatest pieces of art in existence.

7) Water Lilies

Claude Monet, as seen at a gallery near you, one of the largest renditions can be found in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York City. Although there were many versions in the water lilies and examples can be found all over the world.

The famous Impressionist painted most of them around 1919 near his home in Southern France. At this stage in his life he had been painting for nearly 70 years and decided to concentrate his artistic talents only on water and lilies.

6) Guernica

Pablo Picasso, displayed in the Museum Reino Sofia, Madrid painted in 1937 as an expression of horror at the bombing of the town of Guernica by Franco and Nazi planes during the Spanish Civil War and has served as a poster image for many an anti-war demonstrations.

It was originally used for the Paris International Exposition and afterwards it was taken on a world tour, spending a couple of years on show in the MOMA in NYC, later put on permanent exhibition until 1985 when it was returned to Spain..

5) The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci, St Maria della Grazie, Milan was an experimental piece by Da Vinci using tempera on plaster and was painted between 1495 and 1498. It was an innovative technique at the time and didn’t last well, even before the artist had finished painting it, the mural showed signs of damage. Over the centuries there have been many attempts to clean and restore that decay, many have only added to its ragged look.

Nowadays rather than move the mural, conservators have turned the refectory where it sits into a sealed controlled environment to prevent any further damage to this historically important work.

4) The Dream

Pablo Picasso. Le Reve or The Dream has been in private hands since the 1940s and rarely ever gets the chance to be appreciated by the public at large. It was created in 1932, Le Reve, “The Dream” is an oil on canvas painting of the 50-year-old artists young lover, Marie-Therese Walter.

Despite spending most of its life behind closed doors it still features as one of the iconic images of the 20th century. After the death of its original owners, it came up for sale in 1997 and fetched $48.4 million, which made it the sixth most expensive painting in the world at that time.

3) Marilyn Monroe

Andy Warhol, the Marilyn diptych is proudly displayed at the London Tate Museum. The screen print was produced in 1962; a just week after the famous film star died and contains 50 images of the actress taken from the publicity shot for the 1955 film, Niagara.

The Warhol picture is one of Pop Arts most famous images and keeping Monroe popular poster pin up to this day.

2) Starry Night

Vincent van Gogh, has been a permanent member of the MOMA collection in New York City since 1941. Painted in 1889, it depicts the night sky as seen from his room in the sanatorium of Saint Remy de Provence. His swirling patterns in the sky have been much lauded by scientists for their resemblance to the whirlpool galaxy and the clouds of gas that surround the star V838. Van Gogh himself wasn’t as happy with the result; he sadly took his own life the following year.

1) The Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci, is on permanent display at the Musee du Louvre, Paris. The painting, of Lisa Gherardini is a half-length portrait in oil on poplar wood and was completed between 1503 and 1519. The painting is famous for its “enigmatic smile”, its grand composition and the use of sfumato or smoky technique that was perfected by Da Vinci. Throughout its life it has been subject to vandalism, theft and imitation, estimates put its value at over $750 million and it’s probably the most well known image in the world.

While not everyone will agree with the list, and I feel that are probably other more influential or better-composed images in the art world. The fact that these are the more looked up paintings is also an indication as to their ultimate commercial success, being mass produced as cards, calendars, posters and book marks. Agree or disagree the truth is you won’t have much problem getting your hands on a copy of any of the above paintings.


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    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      great posters. enjoyed viewing them all.

    • knell63 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Thanks fotoviva, "The Scream" is always how I feel of a Monday morning. Thanks for dropping by.

    • fotoviva profile image


      6 years ago from Swansea

      'The Scream' has always looked like one of those grey aliens you see from the telly for me but it's a very popular painting for sure!

    • knell63 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Thanks Marcy, it was fun to research. My favourite is the Vermeer, I love his compositions, there are also so many that didn't make the cut that are worth looking at. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      6 years ago from Planet Earth

      I love the Monet and Vermeer choices here. I'm not a personal fan of Picasso, though, despite the huge influence he had on art. This is an interesting and lovely hub - thanks!

    • knell63 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Thanks PageC, I guess there's no surprises there really, it's such a recognisable image.

    • PageC profile image


      6 years ago

      I just knew the Mona Lisa would have to be first. Beautiful hub - thanks.


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