How many paintings do you think there are out there? In galleries and museums?
A few million?
And out of them all, there are a handful of paintings so recognizable by people from all over the world and of all ages that they will probably be admired and talked about until the end of what we call human civilization.
A handful of paintings that have inspired artists ever since they were completed. A handful of paintings that have helped shape what we define as art.
In recognition of these paintings, here are the ten most famous paintings of all time.
1. Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci. The most famous painting in the world and the main attraction of the Louvre, where it is seen by over eight million people every year!
2. The Last Supper – Leonardo da Vinci. This famous painting covers the back wall of the dining hall at Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery in Milan, Italy. It depicts the scene of The Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples.
3. The Creation Of Adam – Michelangelo. Adorning the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, Rome. Painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.
4. Starry Night – Vincent van Gogh. Widely considered to be van Gogh’s magnum opus. Painted in 1889, it was created from memory and depicts the view from his room at the sanitarium he once resided in.
5. The Scream – Edvard Munch. Using oil and pastel on cardboard, Edvard Munch painted his most famous piece in 1893. Sold for $120 million in 2012.
6. The Persistence of Memory – Salvador Dali. Painted in 1931 and depicting a dismal shoreline draped with melting clocks, it is thought to be inspired by Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
7. Girl with a Pearl Earring – Johannes Vermeer. Considered by some to be the “Mona Lisa of the North.” Completed circa 1665, this piece can now be found in the Mauritshuis Gallery in the Hague.
8. The Kiss – Gustav Klimt. A realistic yet geometric depiction of a kissing couple, completed in 1908 in Vienna, Austria. What makes this piece different than the other oil paintings on the list is that it also incorporates gold leaf on canvas.
9. Guernica – Pablo Picasso. Completed in 1937, Picasso’s most famous painting was inspired by the bombing of Guernica in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The painting is on permanent display in Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain
10. Las Meninas – Velázquez. A painting of a painting within a painting, this masterpiece consists of different themes rolled into one: A portrait of Spain’s royal family and retinue in Velázquez’s studio; a self-portrait; an almost art-for-art’s-sake display of bravura brush work; and an interior scene, offering glimpses into Velázquez’s working life.