Greatest Paintings

Ten of the greatest paintings, which have inspired and illumined humanity. It includes classics, such as The Mona Lisa (Da Vinci), The Creation of Adam (Michelangelo) and Cafe Terrace at Night. (Van Gogh) and Poppies in a Field (Monet). Comment on your favourites at the end.

Mona Lisa – Leonardo Da Vinci

The Renaissance (1503–1517)


Leonardo da Vinci worked on his masterpiece over a period of 20 years. He carried it with him everywhere. The enigmatic smile has captured the imagination of the world. I love this painting because it is very human, but also gives a glimpse of the world beyond, the transcendental.

Creation of Adam – Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

Renaissance (1508-1512)


Michelangelo took four years to paint the Sistine Chapel. He chose scenes from the Old Testament. This is the epic moment of God creating Adam. How similar God is to man in this picture.

Cafe Terrace at Night – Vincent Van Gogh


The genius of Vincent Van Gogh is captured in this atmospheric portrayal of French cafe life at night.

The Starry  Night – Vincent Van Gogh (1889)


It shows the view from the east-facing window of his room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (with the addition of an idealised village) It has been voted the most popular watercolour.

It resides in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Poppies in a Field – Claude Monet

Impressionist period (1886)


Claude Monet is one of the great impressionist painters. This wonderful pastoral scene captures the essence of how the impressionists captured the beauty and simplicity of nature.

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee – Rembrandt

Dutch Golden Age (1633)


Rembrandt captures the drama and emotion of this epic scene from the Gospels. Note his effective use of light and dark to highlight the drama of the scene.

The Girl With a Pearl Earring – Jan Vermeer

Dutch Golden Age – (1665)


Jan Vermeer was relatively unknown in his lifetime. But, this fascinating portrait (somewhat reminiscent of the Mona Lisa) is a beautiful example of the Baroque style.

Le Moulin de la Gallette – Jean Renoir



A leading impressionist, Auguste Renoir captures the buzz and excitement of this outdoor scene in Paris.

The Fighting Temeraire – John Turner



John Turner, an English Romantic painter, is often referred to as the ‘artist of light’. This scene is a captivating example of how Turner portrayed sunlight on the sea.

Peace – Picasso


The simplicity of this symbol of peace by Pablo Picasso remains one of the most powerful pieces of art.

L’Estaque – Paul Cezanne


1883-1885  by Paul Cezanne

Eugène Delacroix – Liberty Guides the People


Eugène Delacroix – La Liberté Guidant le Peuple. The painting Commemorates the French Revolution of 1830 (July Revolution) on 28 July 1830.

This painting epitomises the Romantic ideals of the French revolution. The French government bought it in 1830, but it was kept private for many years because it was considered too inflammatory.

Jewish Bride – Rembrandt

A painting of mesmerising ambiguity. ‘The Jewish Bride’ paints a tender portrayal of human love.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Greatest Paintings”, Oxford, 23rd May 2013. Last updated 30 October 2019.

Greatest Works of Art





Van_Gogh Famous artists – Including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.

pieta Ten greatest works of art of all time. Including the Pieta and the statue of David by Michelangelo; Ecstasy of St Therese by Bernini, Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh.

leonardo-da-vinci-mona-lisa-150 Ten most famous paintings – The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, The Scream, The Girl with a Pearl Earring.

leonardo-da-vinci People of the Renaissance (1350s to 1650s) The Renaissance covers the flowering of art and culture in Europe. Primarily in art, but also in science. Includes Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.

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