Paintings of people are some of the most produced art of all time, originating several masterpieces. Be it a portrait painting, a landscape, or a genre painting, the odds are that there are people portrayed somewhere in the image. This article will explore the historical and aesthetic aspects of famous paintings of people.
Napoleon Crossing the Alps – Jacques-Louis David
Jacques Louis David’s painting “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” is an iconic reproduction of the French Emperor Napoleon. David, known for his famous people painting, was a highly influential artist responsible for popularizing the Neoclassical style. He was the chief painter of the French Revolution, depicting many of its distinguished figures and events, and played a key role in the sweeping changes happening in France at the end of the 18th century.
Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci
Without doubt, the most praised, the most discussed, and one of the gorgeous paintings of people in the world, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”. Painted between 1503 and 1505, many art historians believe it is a representation of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, Lisa Gherardini. This painting has been the highlight of the Musée du Louver’s collection since 1797, and the enigmatic ambivalence of the sitter’s smile, the subtle forms, and the monumental illusionism have ensured the painting continues to be a fascination five centuries after its creation.
Woman with a Parasol – Claude Monet
Silhouetted against a dazzling, azure blue sky, Camille Monet, Monet’s wife, is revealed as The Woman with a Parasol alongside their son Jean Monet. Camille Monet was one of Claude Monet’s main inspirations and models and, despite her short life, was immortalized by his paintings. This is especially true with this masterpiece, considered one of Monet’s most famous artworks. She also appears in famous paintings such as Luncheon on the Grass, Camille, and Camille in Japanese Costume, and many others. Monet was a master of creating famous art of people, depicting the everyday life of Paris.
Girl with a Pearl Earring – Johannes Vermeer
Jan Vermeer Van Delft’s captivating painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, painted around 1665, is one of the most recognizable and enduring paintings of people in the history of art. Resonating with an enigmatic calmness, Vermeer’s figurative reproduction of a young girl catching the glance of the viewer has been hailed as the Mona Lisa of the north. The masterpiece is considered one of the most relevant and gorgeous paintings of people.
The Arnolfini Portrait – Jan van Eyck
Jan Van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife is a startling painting of people in union and a fascinating glance into a world long gone. Currently hanging at the National Gallery in London, Van Eyck’s celebrated masterpiece expresses with elegance and eloquence the signs of marriage and companionship. The convex mirror set behind the couple anchors the entire composition. Reinforcing the dimensions of the room, one can also recognize the reflection of two small figures as well as the reflected backs of the couple.
American Gothic – Grant Wood
Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” is perhaps one of the most recognizable images in the world and an emblematic work of American culture. The artwork has one of the world’s most famous art people, a ‘typical’ rural Midwestern family. Grant Wood’s iconic – and ironic – work is a result of his upbringing in Iowa and also owes a great deal to the portraiture from the Northern Renaissance in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli
Botticelli’s painting “The Birth of Venus” is housed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the foremost collection of Renaissance art in the world. After over five centuries, Botticelli’s compelling masterpiece is still a source of fascination; generations have contemplated this classical reproduction of beauty.
The Red Vineyard – Vincent van Gogh
This incredible masterpiece holds a beautiful and drastic color palette, as the Post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh portrayed a brown, blue, violet, and green ground underneath the red and orange crop. The top left corner shows a series of light green trees that extend into the horizon. The yellow and green sky and the orange pigment of the fields reflect onto the stream. Van Gogh originally painted “The Poet’s Garden” and “The Green Vineyard” as a pair, seeing that they worked well together aesthetically. But, after painting “The Red Vineyard”, he began to mention this artwork, only pairing it with “The Green Vineyard” — as they formed a perfect fit.
Wanderer Above the Mist – Caspar David Friedrich
“The Wanderer Above the Mist” skillfully shifts the unpopular genre of landscape painting into an articulate reproduction of the complex mind of the individual. Featuring a reproduction of his own likeness gazing out on the ragged rocks and surrounded by creeping mist, the viewer is located only a few steps behind the artist himself, sharing his viewpoint.
The Scream – Edvard Munch
“The Scream” is without a doubt one of the most recognized and famous paintings by people of all time. The masterpiece was painted by Edvard Munch in 1893. In 1892, while walking by a steep rock formation during sunset, Munch felt suddenly ill and watched the sky turn blood-red. Suddenly, the painter felt a scream passing through the evening, and the feeling was strong enough to make him visualize the painting.
The representation of the human figure is one of the most captivating themes amongst artists and art enthusiasts. The vast majority of famous artists created paintings of people, each with their own unique view. By looking back through art history, we can see how paintings with people help us better understand the period in time in which the artwork was created, as well as helping create a more intense connection with the piece.