It’s said that the greatest people in history can be considered brilliant through their sheer capacity to be remembered even beyond their domain of activity. You don’t need to be a military expert or historian to know of the deeds of Napoleon Bonaparte or a well-versed classical music junkie to have heard of Beethoven or Mozart. You just do. In a sense, it’s like these personalities have been part of our knowledge since forever. Can anyone really remember the first time they’ve heard of Jules Verne?
This applies to painters as well. In their case, however, something else intervenes – their roles as creators. We all know the “one hit wonder” scenario. A musician, let’s say, releases a song that explodes overnight and becomes a major hit worldwide, but none of the pieces they release afterward manages to match this tremendous display of success. Does anyone, generally, know what happened to the people behind Macarena after they took the world by storm? And, sure, PSY might still be a familiar name today, but in generations to come, his name will likely fade into oblivion and Gangnam Style will undoubtedly be what humanity truly remembers.
Some painters, no matter their legacy, are often outshined by their creations. It may seem like everyone knows who Leonardo da Vinci is, but more than everyone knows about the Mona Lisa. And, with this said, let’s kick off the list which contains the most famous paintings in the world.
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The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
It’s hard to argue about this one, isn’t it? No other woman has been replicated, printed on mugs and other various souvenirs, or thoroughly analyzed like da Vinci’s Gioconda. The painting took roughly 15 years to complete, work for it having been started during the heart of the Renaissance era. The piece has been through a lot, even having been stolen at some point. Fortunately, today it hangs on the wall of Paris’ Louvre, where it’s exhibited under the protection of a thick bullet-proof barrier and visited by an average of 6 million people yearly.
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Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh’s work can easily be considered to be the most famous painted landscape of all time. The image of the village of Saint-Rémy under a trademark intense, swirling blue night sky has become equivalent to the name of the famed Dutch painter. It’s definitely not the only piece by van Gogh that can be universally recognized by quite a lot of people and, in fact, one of his latter works stands as one of the most expensive works of art ever sold. This is truthfully ironic given the fact that van Gogh has only sold one painting while he was alive. This definitely says a lot about his legacy.
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The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
Everyone knows this painting, and there have been numerous interpretations of the iconic scene unfolding in this legendary da Vinci piece. Painted near the end of the 15th century, the piece depicts the scene of The Last Supper, where Jesus gathered all of his Twelve Apostles to announce that one of them (spoilers, it’s Judas) would betray him. However, almost as famous as the image itself are the controversies surrounding it. While many people claim that the person seated to Jesus’ right is John the Apostle, several theories have surfaced which claim that was Mary Magdalene. All of this led to numerous media works that used the theory as a focal point, the most famous being Da Vinci’s Code.
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The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti
Nine scenes from the Book of Genesis have been transmuted into works of art through the mastery of Michelangelo. These artworks now embellish the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, located in the heart of the Vatican. The most distinct of the images, though, is The Creation of Adam, which was one of the last pieces to be finished. And even though The Last Supper was definitely the source of numerous parodies in its time of existence, this Michelangelo piece probably holds the record.