The art has existed for as long as the artist has but not every artist who has lived has been fortunate enough to be bestowed with eternal fame. Then there are a few whose works have led them to surpassing all known boundaries of popularity and have rendered them immortal in the world.
Shedding some light on such artists, we bring you the five of best known paintings that still exist and continue inspiring new artists:
Who hasn’t heard of the Mona Lisa? It is no surprise that the most well-known, the most celebrated, the most written about and the most parodied painting in the world is the work of one of the greatest artist of all times – Leonardo da Vinci. Though rumours surrounding the identity of the subject of the painting are plenty, the most commonly accepted theory recognises her as Lisa Gherardini, the wife of an Italian merchant Francesco del Giocondo. From being a prized possession of Leonardo Da Vinci himself, one he would carry with him to all places to catching the fancy of King Francis I of France, and from being stolen by an Italian patriot who believed Italy had a better claim to Mona Lisa than France to being featured in the Guinness World Record for its insurance value, Mona Lisa has had quite a journey since her conception (debatable) in 1517.
Where The Painting Is Now: Musée du Louvre, Paris
A Replica can be found at: Museo del Prado, Madrid
An Interesting Theory about the Painting: Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage claims that tiny letters and numbers, visible only in the magnified images of the painting, are painted into the eyes of Mona Lisa, including the letters ‘L V’ in her right eye and that these letters could be symbolic of a larger mystery.
The Last Supper
Another gem crafted from the stroke of Leonardo da Vinci’s brush, the Last Supper matches Mona Lisa in popularity, and together the two paintings have made Leonardo da Vinci immortal. Depicting the Last Supper of Jesus with his 12 apostles before his death, where he announces that one of them will betray him, the painting remains one of the most discussed and deliberated upon works since its existence. In the recent times, the painting has found mention (and created quite a stir) because of Dan Brown’s interpretation of it in his bestselling novel Da Vinci Code.
Where The Painting Is Now: Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
A Replica can be found at: Minoritenkirche church in Vienna, Austria
An Interesting Theory about the Painting: As per a theory by Slavisa Pesci, an Italian scholar; when superimposed with its mirror image, and made partially transparent, the Last Supper reveals the hidden image of a woman holding a child in her arms.
The Creation of Adam
A renowned fresco painting by another genius from the renaissance era, Michelangelo’s the Creation of Adam tells the narrative of creation as dictated by the Book of Genesis. The painting portrays God breathing life into Adam, the first man. Considered to be the epitome of humanity and an epic presentation of humans’ existential vows, the painting remains one of the most replicated in the world.
Where the Painting Is Now: Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
A Replica can be found at: Acebron Palace, Doñana National Park, Spain
An Interesting Theory about the Painting: It is widely believed that the painting has hidden anatomical illustrations of human body parts including human brain, spinal cord and brain stem. The theory is substantiated through the belief that Michelangelo used to dissect human corpses to better understand the human anatomy.
The Starry Night
The most renowned work of the legendary post-impressionist Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh; the Starry Night has an interesting story behind its creation. Vincent Van Gogh, suffering from a mental breakdown, was admitted to an asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence of France. The landscape as painted in the Starry Night, with an addition of a village, was that of the view from the east-facing window of his room on the 2nd floor. Recognised as one of his greatest works now, the Starry Night could never really find favour neither with Vincent himself nor his audience while he was alive.
Where the Painting Is Now: Museum of Modern Art, New York
A Replica can be found at: Musée d’Orsay, France. This version of the painting, though less popular, is believed to have been painted before the actual Starry Night that Van Gogh painted in the asylum.
An Interesting Theory about the Painting: Albert Boime, an art historian pitied the Starry Night against the actual planetarium recreation of the night sky on the day it was painted and found out striking similarities between the two, including his depiction of planet Venus which he referred to as the ‘morning star’ in a private letter to his brother.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring
A 17th century oil-painting by famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, the Girl with a Pearl Earring is a ‘tronie’ style of painting featuring a girl with a headscarf, an oriental turban and a pearl earring in the left ear. Owing to its huge popularity, the painting has been the central theme of a popular novel which inspired a play and a movie starring famous Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson.
Where the Painting Is Now: Mauritshuis art museum, The Hague, Netherlands
A Replica can be found at: Several replicas of the painting are available for sale online
An Interesting Theory about the Painting: There is no certain information on who the girl in the painting actually is. A theory identifies her as Vermeer eldest daughter whereas another says that she is a servant girl turned muse. The latter has inspired the movies and the play centred on the painting.