From Van Gogh to Da Vinci: The 20 Most Famous Painters of All Time
Can you name some of the world’s greatest painters? Often, these painters’ masterpieces precede their fame since the paintings are more easily recognizable as part of pop culture or school learning.
Think van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” or da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” which were brought to life by these maestros’ outstanding talent and piercing insight.
These painters, regardless of style, era, or nationality, achieved widespread popularity because of their original perspectives and innovative styles, often becoming pioneers in art movements and influencing generations of artists.
This article lists some of the most famous painters and a gist of their prodigious achievements that made them celebrated artistic geniuses.
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20 Most Famous Painters of All Time
Famous painters from different centuries, countries, and cultures have inspired and captivated many admirers through their art. Here are 25 famous painters of all time:
1. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452–1519)
Famous painters come and go, but Leonardo da Vinci consistently withstands the test of time. He is renowned for being a “Renaissance Man” – a thinker and artist whose works have been studied for over 500 years since his death.
Famous works from Leonardo da Vinci include “The Last Supper,” “Mona Lisa,” “The Vitruvian Man,” and “The Virgin and Child with St Anne.” The “Mona Lisa” is probably the most easily-recognizable work of art in the world. Beyoncé and Jay-Z featured it in a video clip they recorded in the Louvre, where the masterwork is kept.
2. Michelangelo (1475–1564)
Michelangelo is one of the most well-known and renowned Old Master painters in the world, with a plethora of masterpieces to his name. Among them, some famous artworks are the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
His ability to meld styles together in his paintings showcased his talent, making his works timeless for generations.
3. Raphael (1482–1520)
Raphael was an Italian Renaissance painter who was an absolute master at capturing emotion and expression within his pieces. He is especially renowned for “The School of Athens,” “The Transfiguration,” and “Madonna Della Seggiola.”
His paintings are still admired today for their incredible detail and pursuit of realism; however, his mastery of composition genuinely stands out. With thoughtful consideration of light, color, line, and shape, Raphael has left behind a long-lasting legacy in painting that continues to captivate viewers even centuries later.
4. Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656)
Artemisia Gentileschi has become an influential figure of utmost importance in the art world. Her life and works have inspired generations of artists and enthralled spectators.
Famous works such as the painting “Judith Beheading Holofernes,” inspired by a Biblical tale, are only some of the many pieces bound to be remembered throughout history.
5. Rembrandt (1606–1669)
Rembrandt was a Dutch master of the 17th century whose extraordinary portrayals of religious and mythological scenes earned him a place amongst the most iconic painters in history.
His famous works, such as “The Night Watch” and “The Syndics of the Clothmakers Guild,” demonstrate his talent for creating lifelike figures with meticulous detail.
6. Judith Leyster (1609–1660)
Judith Leyster was a Dutch Golden Age painter widely acclaimed for her contributions to the genre of painting. She produced several works with various subject matters, including portraits and genre scenes, most notably “The Proposition.” Her work has taken on a life of its own over the ages, continuing to surprise and delight viewers.
7. Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675)
Johannes Vermeer was undoubtedly a great artist of the Dutch Golden Age. His most iconic works include “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” “The Milkmaid,” and “The Little Street.” He had an incredible ability to capture everyday moments, encapsulating them in light, color, and perspective like few others could.
Through his works, we can transport ourselves to that time in history and understand what it was like to live during the era.
8. Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807)
Angelica Kauffman, a famous 18th-century Swiss painter, was renowned for her technical skill and delicate classical style. Her most famous works include “The Death of Cleopatra” (1763) and “Coriolanus Begging the generosity of Rome” (1773).
Although she has been all but forgotten by mainstream culture, art connoisseurs worldwide recognize Kauffman’s monumental contributions to painting during the period known as Neoclassicism.
9. Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842)
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was one of the most famous French portrait painters of the 18th century. She is best known for her portraits of Marie Antoinette, with whom she had a close relationship, and other members of the royal family and high society.
10. Claude Monet (1840–1926)
Claude Monet was a world-renowned French Impressionist painter. He is best known for his paintings depicting the landscape and water lilies of his home in Giverny, France. Monet’s striking works, including “Impression, Sunrise” and “The Water Lily Pond,” have influenced modern art. His unique vision and use of vibrant, expressive colors established him as one of the most influential painters of the 19th century.
11. Berthe Morisot (1841–1895)
Berthe Morisot was a nineteenth-century French Impressionist artist who was instrumental in developing the avant-garde movement. She practiced multiple art forms, including painting, sketching, and photography. Morisot’s works often contained intimate scenes depicting women participating in everyday activities. Her most renowned pieces include “The Cradle,” “The Basket of Chips,” and “In the Dining Room.”
12. Mary Cassatt (1844–1926)
Mary Cassatt is among the famous painters known for her many beautiful post-impressionist paintings. Her most well-known works include ‘”A Cup of Tea,” “The Child’s Bath,” “Little Girl in a Blue Armchair,” “The Boating Party,” and many more.
Mary Cassatt may no longer be with us, but her beautiful works remain its timeless beauty that inspires generations today.
13. Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)
Vincent van Gogh is a household name known for his iconic works of art and pioneering spirit. His most famous work is probably “The Starry Night,” which depicts a swirling scene of a village at night with bright stars above it all.
Even though his troubled life ended in 1890, his vibrant works and unique style continue to inspire generations all over the world.
14. Gustav Klimt (1862–1918)
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian symbolist painter, active at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. One of Klimt’s most iconic paintings is “The Kiss,” depicting a couple locked in a warm embrace beneath a blanket of gilded swirls.
15. Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Pablo Picasso is undoubtedly one of the most famous painters. Notable among his works is the fantastic work titled “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” which shocked the Parisian art world during its time due to its radical shift from traditional painting conventions.
Nowadays, plenty of collectors pay millions to own a Picasso. These include famous art collectors like Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Madonna.
16. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986)
Georgia O’Keeffe was a pioneering artist who created vibrant aesthetic modernist works that were visually captivating and emotionally charged. Among her most famous pieces are “Abstraction White Flowers,” “Horse’s Skull with Blue,” “Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue,” and the iconic artwork “White Rose with Larkspur.”
She was an innovator in exploring texture, color, and line while paving the way for future female painters. O’Keeffe left an indelible mark on art history – her gorgeous masterpieces have inspired generations of creative minds.
17. Grant Wood (1891–1942)
Grant Wood is recognized as one of the famous painters of 20th-century American art, using his rural Iowa upbringing as inspiration for iconic works such as “American Gothic.” Wood’s works often depict a unique combination of traditional rural culture and modern aestheticism.
Wood was also known for heavily encouraging cultural development throughout Iowa and the Midwest during his time. He dedicated much of his life to creating and preserving local artwork, helping pave the way for many budding Midwestern artists.
18. Tamara De Lempicka (1898–1890)
Tamara De Lempicka was a revolutionary artist of the 20th century who created modernist portraits that still captivate audiences today. She elevated art to a higher level, mixing techniques of Renaissance masters with the Art Deco movement of her era.
Her most famous piece is “The Beautiful Rafaela,” a mesmerizing painting that captures a moment of beauty between two women. Whether familiar with her work or just discovering her legacy for the first time, De Lempicka is an undeniable force within the art world and deserves to be remembered for generations.
19. Frida Kahlo (1907–1954)
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter and activist widely known for her self-portraits and her pressure on political issues. She connected her art directly with her life, experiences, and culture in Mexico. Frida Kahlo’s immense talent has been celebrated worldwide since the beginning of her career in the early twentieth century.
Her most famous works include “The Two Fridas,” “The Broken Column,” and “Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace.” Although she died over fifty years ago, Frida Kahlo continues to symbolize female empowerment, achievement, and pain. Madonna is a big Kahlo fan and owns five paintings created by Frida Kahlo, including her iconic painting “The Wounded Deer” and “My Birth.”
20. June Leaf (1929–Present)
June Leaf is an American sculptor renowned for breaking boundaries and pushing the limits of the art form. Born in Connecticut, she began making sculptures at a young age. She became famous for building up and breaking apart materials, combining found objects with organic imagery.
Her works often explored bold themes, creating emotional responses in her viewers and producing highly unique experiences. Her most celebrated work is thought to be “A Gathering of Clarity,” which has been seen in art galleries across the United States and Canada.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Famous Painters
Who Is The Most Famous Painter?
The answer to this question will depend on the respondent’s subjectivity and many other factors. However, even while the art world jury is still debating on a definitive verdict, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt usually top the list.
What Is The Most Viewed Painting in The World?
The Mona Lisa draws in crowds; 10 million guests visit it annually. Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting from the early 16th century is highly valued, estimated at over $660 million.
Conclusion – Most Famous Painters
Whether you like Surrealism, Pop-Art, or Italian Renaissance paintings, these painters’ art and lives will undoubtedly inspire you to aspire for similar success and recognition brought about by their passion for their chosen work.
Their awesome talent, remarkable skills, and innovative visions attest to their right to be the most famous painters that the world is fortunate to have.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Author: Marjolein Dilven (Radical FIRE)
Marjolein is the founder of Radical FIRE. She has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. Radical FIRE is a personal finance blog that helps you live your dream life by making more money and investing.