Oil painting on Canvas is the process by which pigments are painted with a drying oil medium as a binder. linseed oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil are commonly used drying oils. The choice of oil imparts to the oil paint a number of properties, such as the amount of yellowing or drying time. Such variations are also evident in the sheen of the paints, depending on the solvent.

In the same oil painting, an artist can use many different oils depending on the particular pigments and the desired results. Depending on the medium even the paints themselves acquire a specific consistency. To make a varnish valued for its body and shine, the oil can be boiled with a resin, such as pine resin or frankincense.

Here are ten famous oil paintings of history/historical significance:

1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

Monalisa by Leonardo Da Vinci (Famous Oil Paintings)

Monalisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

The Mona Lisa is a drawing of a half-length portrait by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is considered an archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance and has been described as “the best known, the most visited, the most written, the most sung, the most parodied, of the world’s works of art.”

The novel qualities of this most famous painting include the speech of the subject, which is often characterised as mysterious, the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modelling of forms and the illusionism of the atmosphere

The painting is possibly by the Italian noblewoman Lisa Gherardini, Francesco del Giocondo ‘s wife, and is in oil on a panel of white Lombardy poplars. It was thought that it was painted between 1503 and 1506; however, Leonardo may have continued to work on it as late as in 1517. It was purchased by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic itself, and has been permanently exhibited at the Paris Louvre Museum since 1797.

The Mona Lisa is among the world’s most famous paintings. It holds the Guinness World Record at US$ 100 million in 1962 (equivalent to $650 million in 2018), for the highest recognised insurance valuation in history.

2. The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

The Starry Night is an= famous oil painting on canvas by the post-impressionist Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June 1889, with the addition of an imaginary town, it portrays the view from the east-facing window of its asylum room at Saint-Rémy – de-Provence, just before sunrise.

Since 1941 it has been in the permanent collection of the New York City Museum of Modern Art, acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. Commonly considered the magnum opus of Van Gogh, The Starry Night is one of the most widely known paintings in Western cultural history.

The Starry Night is the one nocturne from his bedroom window in the sequence of views. Vincent wrote to Theo in early June, “This morning I saw the countryside a long time before sunrise from my window with nothing but the morning star, which looked really big.” Researchers have established that in the spring of 1889, Venus was still visible at dawn in Provence, and was almost as bright at that time. So the brightest “star” in this famous oil painting, just to the viewer’s right of the cypress tree, is actually Venus.

3. The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Scream is the famous name of a composition produced in 1893 by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch. Munch ‘s original German title for his work was Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature), and Skrik (Shriek), the Norwegian title. The painting’s agonised face has become one of the most iconic images in art, seen as a representation of the human condition’s anxiety

Munch remembered that he was out at sunset for a walk when the sunlight unexpectedly turned the clouds “a red blood.” He heard a “infinite scream of nature.” Scholars have observed Oslo and suggested other reasons for the unnaturally orange sky, ranging from the effects of a volcanic eruption to a psychological reaction by Munch to his sister’s commitment at a nearby lunatic asylum.

Munch created two paint versions, and two pastel versions, as well as a lithograph stone from which several prints survive. Both painted versions were stolen, but have been recovered ever since. One of the pastel versions had commanded the fourth highest nominal price paid at a public auction for a painting.

4. The Creation Of Adam by Michelangelo

The Creation Of Adam by Michelangelo

The Creation Of Adam by Michelangelo

The Creation of Adam is a fresco painting by Italian artist Michelangelo which forms part of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It illustrates the narrative of the Biblical Creation from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to the first man, Adam. The fresco is part of a complex iconographic system, and is the fourth in the series of panels representing Genesis episodes chronologically.

The image of God and Adam’s near-touching hands has become iconic to mankind. The famous oil painting was reproduced in countless parodies and imitations. The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo is one of the most replicated religious paintings of all time.

5. Napoleon Crossing The Alps by Jacques-Louis David

Napoleon Crossing The Alps by Jacques-Louis David

Napoleon Crossing The Alps by Jacques-Louis David

Napoleon Crossing the Alps is one of five versions of Napoleon Bonaparte ‘s famous oil painting on canvas equestrian portrait, painted by the French artist Jacques-Louis David between 1801 and 1805. The composition, initially commissioned by the King of Spain, shows a highly idealised view of the real crossing made in May 1800 by Napoleon and his army across the Alps via the Great St. Bernard Pass.

6. The Storm On The Sea By Galilee Rembrandt

The Storm On The Sea By Galilee Rembrandt

The Storm On The Sea By Galilee Rembrandt

The Storm at the Sea of Galilee is a famous oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, the Dutch Golden Age painter. It had previously been in Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum but was robbed in 1990 and is now missing. The famous oil painting portrays Jesus’ miracle calming the storm at the Sea of Galilee, as mentioned in Mark’s fourth chapter of the Gospel. It is the only seascape Rembrandt has.

7. Composition VIII By Wassily Kandinsky

Composition VIII By Wassily Kandinsky

Composition VIII By Wassily Kandinsky

Composition VIII, created in 1923 by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky, is an abstract-style oil-on-canvas painting.

The famous oil painting consists of a number of geometric shapes , colours, straight and curved lines set against a cream backdrop that melds into areas of light blue at some stages.

The use in the artwork of circles , squares, rectangles, semicircles, triangles, and other mathematical types is consistent with the painter’s belief in the magical properties of geometric shapes, whereas the displayed colours are chosen for their emotional effect.

Kandinsky, who had been fascinated by colour since an early age and regarded it as having transcendental properties, wanted to explore an interrelation between sound and colour that would allow a painter to create an artwork similar to how a musician composes a song.

The famous oil painting is currently on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

8. Red Balloon By Paul Klee

Red Balloon By Paul Klee

Red Balloon By Paul Klee

In 1922 the legendary artist Paul Klee painted The Red Balloon. The colourful show of seemingly floating geometric shapes in the air, provides a unique picture. The history to the cityscape reflects the view in vivid shades in red, yellow, blue and green. With his use of shape and form, Klee skilfully guides the eye to the centre stage of the lone red circular balloon band.

Paul Klee put the cubist technique into masterful practice in the creation of this famous oil painting. This abstract style is brought to life by the deconstructed forms and diverse perspectives. Using oil and chalk on muslin helps bring out the vivid colours and demonstrate the skill of Klee in the theory of colours.

The sharp lines, vivid colours and geometric forms create a life of their own for The Red Balloon. In its execution Paul Klee’s cubist technique is unmistakable. The Red Balloon is an abstract show of style and form, whilst its whimsical images tend to entertain its audience.

9. The Japanese Bridge By Claude Monet

The Japanese Bridge By Claude Monet

The Japanese Bridge By Claude Monet

In 1899 Monet painted the Japanese Bridge in his Giverny garden, passing through the canal. Image is a canvas famous oil painting. Like his other works including the Haystacks and Parliament, Monet did not create just the one bridge painting.

Claude Monet is noted to have drawn some pictures depicting the bridge and its environs. Every displays it at a different time of the day, or at a different season stage.

10. Adoration Of The Magi by Gentile da Fabriano

Adoration Of The Magi by Gentile da Fabriano

Adoration Of The Magi by Gentile da Fabriano

The Adoration of the Magi or Adoration of the Kings is the name historically given to the subject in Jesus’ Nativity in art where the three Magi, depicted as kings, particularly in the West, found Jesus by following a star, laid gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh before him, and worship him. It is related by Matthew 2:11 in the Bible:

“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path”.

Christian iconography has greatly extended the bare account of the Biblical Magi provided in the second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (2:1–22) and used it to press the argument that Jesus was known as the King of the Earth from his earliest infancy. The scene has also been used to depict the Nativity, one of the most important episodes of Christ’s life cycles

The occurrence is commemorated in the church calendar as the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) in western Christianity. On the Feast of Nativity (December 25), the Orthodox Church commemorates the Adoration of the Magi. For this passage the word is anglicised from the title of the Vulgate Latin section: A Magis adoration involves studying a piece of art by looking at the artist’s use of lines, shape, texture, approach and even composition.

Although there are different approaches to art and how to go about interpreting its works, there are still a few approaches that have been standardized into the field. Arts history bachelor’s degree has a solid foundation in courses like liberal arts, education, philosophy, social and natural sciences, a foreign language and more.


Paintings from the past help to learn about crucial times in history and know exactly how the experience of that timeline was like. The history behind artworks as at separate times helps to learn of different tribes and their cultures. It has also helped in a lot of cases to learn of the transition of time in both social, political and economic stages.

Also, they provide rich insights into various world cultures, tradition and transition in the socio-economic role. It also brings together the meanings and interpretation of encrypted messages in old artworks.

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