“Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realising it.” - Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet are some of the most famous painters in the UK and around the world. They’re famous for their style and the art world is still fascinated by their works. That said, van Gogh and Monet aren’t the only painters to have left their mark on the art world.
In this article, we're going to look at the most famous artists to have ever graced the world of art, who they were, what they did, and some of their most famous paintings.
Vincent van Gogh
The Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh was a great painter during the 19th century. He was famous for his still lifes and landscapes and made history by bringing the pointillism technique to the forefront of art. Born in 1853, he died in 1890 in a field after painting a canvas. The painter is now thought of as one of the greatest of all time even though he was relatively unknown whilst alive.
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Born in Paris in 1848, Paul Gauguin is probably one of the most exotic French painters. He lived in French Polynesia where he died and was one of the greatest painters of the Pont-Aven School. He was inspired by Impressionism and Japanese prints and you can now find his works in the famous Musée d’Orsay in Paris. He died in 1903.
Monet is most famous for his “Impression, Sunrise” piece and was part of the Impressionist movement in the 19th century. He was arguably the first of the impressionist painters.
He was born in Paris in 1840 and died in 1926 in Giverny. Claude Monet cut his teeth as an artist in Paris. He studied in the Académie Suisse in Paris. Throughout his career, Monet rubbed shoulders with the famous artists of the time including Pissarro and Eugène Boudin.
The painter even said of himself:
“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand as if it were necessary to understand when it is simply necessary to love.”
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Manet’s famous painting “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” (Luncheon on the Grass) is rather well known now. While his father wanted him to study law, Édouard Manet refused and instead learnt to paint from Thomas Couture. He helped lead the impressionist painting movement with the subjects he decided to paint: portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and Parisian life.
He often hung out with intellectuals such as Charles Baudelaire and Émile Zola but was also regularly criticised by his contemporaries. His works are now an important chapter in the history of art and painting.
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) is widely considered as the father of modern painting although he started his career as a banker. He’d find his way into the world of art when he unveiled his talents in Paris. He’s famous for the landscapes of Aix-en-Provence in the south of France where he grew up.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), became a famous painter towards the end of the 19th century. While he started out in the Impressionist movement, he started moving towards Realism. With nudes, portraits, landscapes, still lifes, etc., Renoir is an accomplished artist who never seemed to stop. He even attached brushes to his wrists when suffering from paralysing rheumatism in later life to ensure that he wouldn't have to stop.
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Picasso is a complete artist who was born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881 and died in Mougins, France. He was a painter, sculptor, engraver, and ceramist who’s known for helping spark the surrealist movement. After studying art at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, he moved to Paris at the age of 23. It was in the French capital with the help of George Braque where he’d invent Cubism, which he was probably more famous for.
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Edgar Degas (1834-1917) first studied law to please his father but would end up falling in love with painting. He learnt by copying the great works from the Louvre.
He's quite the complex artists and art historians are still arguing whether or not he’s an impressionist artist. Degas was quite avant-garde and doesn’t tick all the boxes. His paintings are famous for including movement and dancing.
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Leonardo da Vinci
A famous Renaissance painter, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is famous all over the world for his works and especially his most famous painting, The Mona Lisa. A true scientist, da Vinci studied everything from the environment to the human body in order to be as accurate as possible. In addition to being a great painter, Leonardo da Vinci was also an engineer, botanist, inventor, writer, sculptor, architect, urbanist, musician, poet, and philosopher.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) was a Dutch Baroque painter. He was a Dutch School painter in the 17th century and later a Dutch Golden Age painter and also famous for his self-portraits. He was inspired particularly by the chiaroscuro painting techniques of Caravaggio and applied this contrast technique to his own works.
Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, also known as Botticelli, was an Italian painter who lived between 1445 and 1510. He was originally a beater-out of gold lead before learning to paint in Italian painting workshops. He was eventually tasked with painting the Sistine Chapel by Sixtus IV in 1481. With help from Cosmo Rosselli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Pietro Perugino, Botticelli made his mark on Italian art history with his works that are still enjoyed today.
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Peter Paul Rubens
The great Flemish painter Pierre Paul Rubens (1577-1640) is one of the greatest painters of his time. Almost every painter dreamt of having the fortune of plying their trade in Rubens’ famous workshop. He painted religious portraits such as “The Descent from the Cross”, which inspired artists all over the country. He is considered the master of Baroque Flemish painting.
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born in Caprese in 1475 and died in 1564 in Rome and was an Italian High Renaissance artist. He’s famous for his religious works and above all, for having painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. His technique and style led to the Mannerism movement.
In addition to painting, he was also an accomplished sculptor and is very famous for "David,", a marble carving that is currently housed in the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence, Italy.
The famous Spanish Rococo painter, Francisco Goya (1746-1828), brought with him the arrival of contemporary painting in Europe. He’s famous for painting what life was like in Spain at the time. He was a critic of war and injustice and he loved creating work on Spanish life.
Gustave Courbet, a French Realist painter, was born in 1819 and died in 1877. Throughout his career, he sought to reproduce life at the time and his contemporaries were shocked to see his piece “L'Origine du Monde” (The Origin of the World) in 1866 which is a close-up view of a woman’s genitals and stomach. He quickly moved away from Romantic pieces in order to turn the art world upside-down.
Art historians were recently thought to have discovered who the model in "L'Origine du Monde" was, just 152 years after it was painted. It was thought to be a painting of Courbet's lover and model, Joanna Hiffernan. However, letters and the fact that Hifferman was famously ginger have led art historians to believe that it's actually Constance Queniaux, a famous dancer of the time.
Famous for his psychedelic style, Salvador Dali, or Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, was born in 1904 and died in 1989. The art world was enamoured by the Surrealist movement. His canvases portrayed dream-like scenes.
Who are your favourite artists of all time?
If you'd like to learn more about art history, painting, or just art in general, consider getting tutorials from the tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorials available: face-to-face tutorials, group tutorials, and online tutorials.
Face-to-face tutorials are arguably the most effective but they also tend to be the most expensive. That said, they are usually the most cost-effective.
Online tutorials are cheaper per hour since the tutor doesn't have to pay travel costs and can fit more lessons into their schedule.
Finally, group tutorials are like traditional classes at school but with fewer students. If you and a few friends would like to learn about art or how to paint, this could be a really good way for you to share the cost of your tutorials.