The best paintings simply take your breath away! They have a unique theme or a new painting style that makes it stand out in this crowded field.
Many of these paintings are a testimony to the skill and talents of many artists from different parts of the world. Pablo Picasso rightly said that every child is a born artist, the problem is to retain that artist within themselves.
This universe is full of art and inspiration, that is what everyone can see, but it takes a really talented and visionary artist to pick paint and brush and illustrate their thoughts, visions and this beautiful universe into paintings.
To blow you off the ground, we have gone through the great detail to find some of the best artwork that has ever been produced. Below are the 45 most beautiful, famous and expensive paintings of all time.
45. Anders Zorn – Our daily bread
Painted in 1886 “Our daily bread” by Anders Zorn from Sweden, depicts his mother sitting at the edge of a ditch, and cooking potatoes for the harvesters. The painting is from his private collection and shows his mother’s sacrifices.
He was in his mid-20s when he painted it to pay a tribute to his mother’s love for him and his big joint family. The composition came in public domain, after the artist’s death in 1920. After that, it was purchased by the National Museum of Stockholm.
44. The Wounded Angel
The painting with two gloomy boys carrying an angel on a stretcher with a bandaged forehead and a bloodied wing makes people curious in a second. And the direct gaze of the boy to the right touches the viewers ‘soul.
The composition is still considered as one of the finest works of art since 1903, and it is in the same year it was produced by Finnish symbolist painter Hugo Simberg.
The painting was a source of strength for Simberg, as he had been suffering from meningitis for a very long time. In 2006, the painting was voted Finland’s “National Painting” through a contest organized by the Ateneum art museum.
43. Christina’s World
Christina’s World is one of the most famous paintings of the 20th century by American painter Andrew Wyeth.
The 1948’s canvas depicts a woman, Anna Christina who is crawling up from a yellowish-brown grass field and looking lovingly at a gray farmhouse on the top of the crag. The woman in the painting was suffering from a muscular disorder that prevented her from hiking. However, she was still doing an effort to get to the farmhouse that was situated quite far off.
The challenge here for the artist was to do impartiality to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless. The beautiful painting with a deep meaning and desire to achieve is currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks is one painting that depicts the elusive assessment of today’s society. The four characters in the painting are isolated and disconnected from their environment despite being in a chic environment.
On the outside, it looks that the man and woman are holding hands however on closer inspection they are not even looking at each other. The other two characters also look like talking to each other however they are not.
The painting was bought immediately after it was completed by Hopper by the Art Institute of Chicago which remains there to date. Although Hopper claimed that the location was real, however, people were not able to find any such restaurant. The painting gives the idea that everyone in this world is alone since the characters are disconnected and placed in an ambiguous relationship.
The painting was produced by Hopper in 1942 on canvas and was painted with oil.
41. Glow of Hope
The Glow of hope also referred to as the “Woman with the Lamp” is one mater piece from S.L. Haldankar. This masterpiece was produced in 1945-46. Haldankar was stuck with the idea of painting it on an Indian Festival Diwali – The festival of lights; when he saw his daughter in a beautiful Indian outfit saree with a candle in one hand and her other hand protecting the flame from the wind.
Haldankar made his daughter Geeta the subject of his painting and immortalized her on painted handmade paper using watercolors. Watercolors were used deliberately by Haldankar since he wanted to prove that he can make a painting without any mistakes. Oil colors can be erased however it is not possible with watercolors.
40. Salvator Mundi
Salvator Mundi, the 66 cm x 45 cm long and wide artwork was created in the 1500 century by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo.
The medium oil painting depicts Jesus as a savior of the world, making the sign of the cross with his right hand while holding a transparent crystal globe in his left. The painting is called to be a copy of a lost and original one, which was rediscovered and restored, and included in a major Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery, London, in 2011-2012.
The painting was last sold at an auction in November 2017 for $450.3 million to Prince Badr bin Abdullah. It is a new record for the most expensive painting ever sold at a public auction.
39. Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee
Storm on the Sea of Galilee was a piece of art painted in 1633, by the Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt van Rijn.
For a very long time, it was exhibited in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Unfortunately in 1990, two thieves broke into the museum and stole it with 12 other artworks.
Sadly, it is still missing. This theft is still considered as one of the biggest art thefts in US history.
38. Dog Lying in the Snow
This popular composition was created in 1911 by a German-based artist, Franz Marc.
The painting with angular aspects features Marc’s own Siberian Shepherd dog named Russi, lying carefree on white freezing snow in the month of January, near the village where he lived.
The scene featuring primary colors of yellow, blue and their combinations, illustrates the affection of dogs with nature. Marc was known for painting animals, as he felt they were pure and closer to God. Of all his popular creations, this was very intimate and close to his heart.
37. Portrait of Mari Clasen
Portrait of Mari Clasen is one of the most liked oil paintings in the world. The Drammen, Norway-based artist Halfdan Johnsen Egedius painted it in 1895 when he was only 17-years.
He wonderfully blended the colors to describe the beauty of Norway’s folk costume Bunad, worn by Mari Clasen, a young pretty woman from South Central Norway. The painting speaks a lot about the beauty and culture of the country.
36. The Old Guitarist
The old guitarist is one of the most haunting images created by Pablo Picasso since Picasso had restricted himself to a cold monochromatic blue palette depicting the emotional, psychological themes of human misery and alienation. The painting is an epitome of a timeless expression of human suffering.
Picasso produced the painting while working in Barcelona in 1903. This was known as the blue period of Picasso (1901 to 1904). The subject of this masterpiece of Picasso is an old man although emaciated however still holding to his guitar and playing it. A remarkable effect on the painting comes out in the form of the old man’s bony frame.
The painting can be attributed to the lifestyle led by Picasso in that time period since he was quite poor in that period and his subjects of art in that particular period were people from the lowest strata of that particular society – beggars, prostitutes, single mothers, and drunks.
35. The Birth of Venus
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli is a painting that depicts the emergence of Goddess Venus from the sea as a beautiful woman. The most striking part of this simple painting is the beautiful face of Goddess Venus and her shy posture. It is currently housed in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery.
34. Dogs Playing Poker
Painted in 1903 by C.M. Coolidge, this painting has 16 images of dogs sitting around a poker table and playing cards. This painting was an iconic depiction of Americans during the early part of the 19th century.
33. Portrait of Madame Recamier
This portrait shows Juliette Recamier sitting on a style sofa in a simple dress with bare arms. This painting steeped in neoclassical fashion is now located at Louvre in France.
32. No.5, 1948
This famous painting by Jackson Pollock is a signature piece of art that depicts the chaos raging within Pollock at the time of painting. The many swirls and meshes make it a unique piece of work. For these reasons, it is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold by an American artist as it was sold for a huge $140 million.
31. The Son of Man
The Son of Man, painted by Rene Magritte, is a piece of work that shows his own self in a black suit, but with an apple instead of his face.
30. Royal Red and Blue
This recent painting by Mark Rothko shows royal blue and red squares on a canvas. The highlight of this painting is its hand-made canvas, and it is currently placed in the Art Institute in Chicago.
29. Massacre of the Innocents
Based on the biblical massacre of innocents in Bethlehem, this painting by Peter Paul Rubens strikes a chilling note in the minds of viewers.
28. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
Created by Georges Seurat, it shows the relaxed atmosphere of people on a lazy Sunday afternoon on an island. This painting is an excellent example of pointillism, where many dots are joined together to create an image.
27. The Dance
The Dance by Henri Matisse is based on the art form of fauvism that is depicted by bright colors. This painting is about a few people dancing together in a circle and is especially noteworthy for its bright blue background.
26. American Gothic
American Gothic symbolizes the grit and determination of Americans during the Great Depression. In this painting, Grant Wood, shows a stern-looking couple standing in front of a house with Gothic windows.
25. The Flower Carrier
Painted by the most popular Mexican painter of the 20th century, this painting shows how a person is struggling to carry a huge flower basket on his back. Its bright colors are a trademark of Diego Rivera.
24. Whistler’s Mother
Also known as “Arrangement in Grey and Black. The Artist’s Mother,” it is one of the most famous paintings by American artist James McNeill Whistler. In this painting, Whistler depicts his mother sitting on a chair against a grey wall. This painting is so-called because the artist has used only black and grey shades in this painting.
23. The Persistence of Memory
This painting by the Spanish artist Salvador Dali is a classic example of surrealism where hard and soft things are present side by side. In this picture, a soft image of clock slides in the background of a hard table.
22. Portrait of Dora Maar
Pablo Picasso is one of the most accomplished Spanish painters, and his skill is most evident in this painting. He is the founder of a style called Cubism that shows the same picture from different angles. This picture is about a woman’s face, believed to that of Picasso’s lover, shown from different angles, thereby marking the first of many paintings in cubism style.
21. Portrait de L’Artiste Sans Barbe
This painting by Van Gogh is an interesting piece because it shows the artist without his beard. It is also one of the few paintings sold by Van Gogh, and it fetched a whopping $71.5 million in 1998, making it one of his most expensive paintings ever sold.
20. Cafe Terrace at Night
Painted by Vincent Van Gogh, this painting shows an everyday setting in bright colors. A simple dinner at a cafe along a street is well-depicted in this simple painting.
19. Composition 8
Kandinsky is often known as the founder of abstract art, a form that uses shapes and symbols instead of real people. Composition 8 is one of his first paintings that expound this form of art.
18. The Kiss
One of the first pieces of art in the Art Nouveau style, this painting used gold leaf as the background. Created by Gustav Klimt, this painting is renowned for this style.
17. Le Moulin de la Galette
The name of this painting translates to “Pastry Chef” and is a vivid description of city life. This painting by Renoir is also one of the most expensive paintings ever bought.
Olympia by Edouard Manet created quite a controversy as it showed a woman with a gaze and subtlety that indicated that she is a mistress. It is also a good early example of the realism style.
15. The Third of May
This painting by Francisco Goya shows Napoleon’s attack on Spaniards. This is one of the first Spanish paintings to show war in a bad light.
14. Las Meninas
Las Meninas portrays Margarita Teresa of Spain as a young child along with the King and Queen of Spain. Painted by Diego Valazquez, this is considered to be an important baroque painting.
13. The Arnolfini Marriage
This painting is one of the oldest preserved ones dating back to 1434. It was done by Jan van Eyck and portrays the Italian businessman Giovanni Arnolfini and his pregnant wife in their home in the city of Bruges.
12. The Scream
The Scream is a painting by Edvard Munch of Norway and it shows the distorted face of a figure against a bloody sky. The hill landscape in the background adds to this picture’s charm. It is also one of the first few paintings done in the expressionism style where the reality is blurred to give more importance to emotions.
11. Water Lilies
Water lilies, painted by Claude Monet, is a series of 250 oil paintings based on his own flower garden. These paintings are located in different art museums world over.
10. Starry Night
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh shows the village of Saint-Remy under a swirling sun. It is one of the most well-known images in modern culture and is currently housed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
9. Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
This painting by Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel shows man’s indifference to the suffering of his fellowmen. It is a powerful theme shown in a rather simple way with Icarus, the Greek character suffering underwater and people going on with their work.
8. The Creation of Adam
The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo shows how God created Adam. It is one of the paintings that adorn the 12,000 square feet area of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
7. The Last Supper
The Last Supper is a painting that depicts the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples. Displayed at the dining hall of Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan, this painting has also created much controversy around Mary Magdalene, the supposed character sitting next to Jesus.
Guernica by Picasso depicts the bombing of the city of the Spanish city of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. It is a black and white painting that shows the role of Italians and Germans in this bombing.
5. Girl with a Pearl Earring
The Girl With a Pearl Earring is often known as Dutch Monalisa because the expression on the girl’s face is hard to understand. This painting by Johannes Vermeer has her pearl earrings as the focal point.
4. Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
This painting by Caravaggio shows a realistic depiction of a murder moment in a prison. The gloom of the picture and the expressions of the onlookers make it a true classical masterpiece. It is displayed in St. John’s Cathedral in Valletta, Malta.
3. Night Watch
Night Watch is one of the most popular pieces of work by Rembrandt. It depicts an entire city moving out led by its captain. A unique aspect is its dark varnish that gives an impression of a night scene. It is currently housed in Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
2. School of Athens
Painted by Raphael, this painting contains pictures of famous philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle walking in the middle along with other philosophers on the sides. It is now located in the Vatican.
Probably the most famous painting in the world is Monalisa by Leonardo da Vinci. It is a portrait of a lady called Gherardini and is famous because the lady’s expression is indecipherable. This painting is currently displayed in Louvre, France.
Here is our list of the most famous 45 paintings ever done. Which of these is your favorite? Do let us know through your comments.