What distinguishes famous artists from those others who slip into obscurity? The most well-known painters are those who depict a moment in time, a place, an idea, or a new artistic movement. Our list of renowned painters includes some of the most brilliant minds in history.
Their work has lasted the test of time and can be found in galleries all over the world. Several of their works can fetch hundreds of millions of dollars at auction on rare occasions.
Andy Warhol was a controversial pop artist who was born in Pennsylvania in 1928. He used irony and popular themes in his paintings, which fused the realms of art, advertising and celebrity. This was attacked as a business decision rather than an artistic one.
Warhol spent a lot of time bedridden as a young child, which he credits as a crucial era in shaping his skills and aesthetic expression. Unlike many other famous artists, Warhol studied commercial painting in high school. He then moved to New York City to work in magazine illustration and advertising before becoming recognized for his shoe designs.
His incendiary drawings rapidly made him a prominent and controversial artist. His studio housed drag queens and other queer people. And his personal life, in which he lived openly gay in the pre-Stonewall era, was even more contentious. In 1987, he died as a result of post-operative complications.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Few painters are more well-known than Leonardo da Vinci, who stands head and shoulders above all others. Leonardo da Vinci embodied the Renaissance man, with interests ranging from painting to architecture, anatomy, and engineering.
Despite his reputation and numerous activities, da Vinci was not a prolific painter. Only a few dozen paintings survived over the years, but his love of science pervaded his artistic work (e.g. Vitruvian Man).
Despite a limited academic education, da Vinci shown an early affinity for art. Born in 1452 in Tuscany, Italy. He apprenticed under Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence when he was fourteen years old; studying carpentry and sketching. He qualified as a master artist at Florence’s Guild of Saint Luke when he was twenty years old. He established his own workshop while continuing his apprenticeship with del Verrocchio for a few more years.
Da Vinci devoted his later years to scientific research until his death in 1519 after a flourishing painting career.
Even when he was alive, Michelangelo Buonarotti was considered as one of the most famous artists of all time.
Although he considered himself a sculptor, his artistic abilities extended to painting, architecture, and even poetry, but sculpting remained his most consistent medium throughout his career.
Michelangelo, who was born in 1475, was always more interested in church paintings than in formal education. He began an apprenticeship with Domenico Ghirlandaio when he was thirteen years old. It was scheduled to last three years, but it only lasted one because he had already learnt everything he could from Ghirlandaio. After this he moved on to the Humanist Academy in Florence.
Following the completion of David in 1501, he established himself as a respected artist paving the way for a prosperous career. Toward the conclusion of his life he gave up his artistic endeavors in favor of architecture.
The impressionist movement was founded by Claude Monet, who coined the term with his picture Impression, Sunrise.
His subject matter was always land and seascapes, with the French countryside being his favorite. To capture the changing of seasons, he would often paint the same location several times. He did, however, paint portraits. The most famous of which is The Woman in the Green Dress.
He began sketching charcoal caricatures in his teens, having been born in 1840 in Paris, France. Eugene Boudin, his tutor, taught him painting and his outdoor painting style. He met Edouard Manet, another future impressionist, while traveling as a boy. He finally found success within the impressionist movement. At the age of eighty-six, he died of lung cancer in 1926. One of the rare impressionists who achieved commercial success while still alive was Claude Monet.
Edvard Munch, the son of a priest, was born in Norway in 1863. He studied scaling and how to sketch after enrolling as an engineer in 1879, but his studies were disrupted by sickness. He dropped out, eventually pursuing painting instead. After a few years, he went to Paris to study the impressionist style and learn how to use their brilliant color schemes. He struggled to develop his own personal style throughout his adult life, going back and forth between naturalism and impressionism.
His paintings eventually became more symbolic than realistic, reflecting the essence of emotions rather than people displaying feelings. Munch lived alone for the last two decades of his life, until his death in 1944.
The Scream, one of his most renowned paintings has made Munch one of the most famous artists in th world. It is also one of the most valuable paintings of all time, reflecting the contemporary man’s anxiety. There are four variations of this work: two pastels and two paints.
Pablo Picasso, born in Malaga, Spain in 1881, is a painter, printmaker, poet, and playwright who has influenced generations of famous artists. He changed tactics multiple times throughout his life, making it difficult to pin down what his signature style was.
His paintings portrayed vibrant scenes of blue hues in his early years, but eventually transitioned to blue-green hues, which typically depicted scenes of underprivileged peoples.
Picasso’s father, a painter, taught him everything he knew until Picasso had surpassed him. His family relocated to Barcelona when he was fourteen years old, and despite his age, he was accepted into the local fine arts school. He had a highly successful career after becoming political during World War II, and he attained international success until he died of heart disease in 1973.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, also known as Rembrandt, was born in the Netherlands in 1606. He is well-known as a painter and printmaker in the field of visual arts. Despite the fact that he painted a wide range of subjects, he was particularly fond of self portraits and biblical settings. He is regarded as one of history’s greatest painters.
Rembrandt spent six months as an apprentice to Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam when he was fourteen years old. He then founded his own studio in Leiden, where he took on a large number of students. Despite having a decent income, he squandered his money recklessly, leaving him impoverished for the majority of his life. Fortunately, he spent his money on art that grew in value over time, allowing him to avoid bankruptcy by selling the art he had collected over the years. He eventually died as a poor man in 1669.
Salvador Dali is another famous surrealist artist who created spectacular and unusual visuals, typically incorporating sexual and Freudian aspects as well as mathematical and scientific elements. He was born in 1904 in Spain. He dabbled in film, poetry, sculpture, and graphic arts in addition to painting. Dali began studying drawing at the Municipal Drawing School in Figueres when he was fourteen years old, and then relocated to Madrid to continue his studies.
His early work was influenced by cubism and avant-garde forms, but he eventually turned to surrealism, where he became a famous character. He went across Spain and France before settling in the United States, where his career took off. Dali began to show signs of Parkinson’s disease in 1980, which, coupled with the death of his wife Gala not long after, resulted in a halt in his artistic pursuits and a continuous decline until his death in 1989.
Vincent van Gogh, a Dutch painter who was born in 1853, is one of the most famous artists in history. He painted landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and self-portraits, among other things, in a significant body of work.
Born into an affluent family he spent his early years as a missionary before deciding to pursue painting when he was nearly thirty. He was troubled by mental health concerns throughout his life, spending time in and out of psychiatric wards, one of which occurred after he cut his own ear, for which he is now famous. His mental health troubles eventually caught up with him, and he committed suicide in 1890.Van Gogh, ironically, rose to fame after his death, becoming a mythological figure regarded as a sad genius. His art is typically described as neo-impressionistic, with a lot of bright colors.
Johannes Vermeer, a baroque painter famed for his superb use of colours and light, was born in 1632 in Holland.
He specialized in painting domestic interior scenes of the middle class living, often representing the same situations and persons in several paintings, despite his enjoyment of painting biblical and mythological scenes. His casual use of expensive colors, as well as his lack of preparation for each of his works, were two characteristics of his painting that marked him apart from his contemporaries. Many information regarding Vermeer’s life, including who he trained under, remain unknown. Furthermore, only 34 works are currently assigned to him. However, it is known that Vermeer became a master in 1653, albeit he did not reach widespread fame until after his death in 1675, when he became one of the most well-known painters of the Dutch Golden Age.