Elaborating on my discussion on portrait paintings, I would further like to state about the famous paintings of women from history.  Paintings have not only become popular nowadays, but these forms of art are admired by people from all over the world and forages. 

Art is something that every age group people enjoy. Some choose their passion to be and some they do it because they find peace. Paintings are not bound to any particular language or ages, in fact, it has a language of its own. Paintings can speak up thousands of emotions, it can mold us into different feelings like it can repel us or draw us even more towards us. 

Paintings: An Expression

Paintings are good in a way that helps you to collect your own opinions or how you want to see the world revolving around. Paintings can evoke our deep down rooted feelings or even have been proved to heal the person in any way. 

The blessings bestowed upon us as a painter is that the whole world is at our fingertips. We can mold the story into any form, giving another way to it, giving it all twists and turns, providing the story a happy ending or a tragic or ending it anonymously, in short, the whole of the plot depends upon us.

Let me bring into your notice the 10 most famous paintings of women from history along with their artists’ names and also what these paintings depict.

1. Whistler’s Mother

Whistler's Mother (Famous Paintings of Women)

Whistler’s Mother



  • Artist: James McNeill Whistler
  • Year: 1871
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Dimensions : 1,443mm×1,623mm
  • Location: Musee de Orsay in Paris
  • Model: Anna McNeill Whistler



The famous painting Arrangement in Grey and Black no.1 also known under the colloquial name Whistler’s Mother. It is an oil painting, beautifully painted on canvas by the American born painter James McNeill Whistler in 1871. The protagonist of the painting is Anna McNeill Whistler, Whistler’s mother. The painting is displayed in his own design of frame. 

The angular portrait of the woman is assumed to be Whistler’s mother. Anna McNeill Whistler posed for the painting when she was living in London with his son at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.

Several stories revolve around the painting behind this pose of the woman, one is that Anna McNeill Whistler posed in replacement of another model when she could not show up for specific reasons. It is also said that the elderly Mrs. Whistle aged 67 at that time became tired of standing so she sat for the rest of the remaining session. 

Amazing Facts:

This painting became a symbol of motherhood when the stamp was issued by the US post office with this image engraved on it along with the writing ” In Memory and In the Honor of Mothers of America”. 

This painting is one of the famous paintings of American Artists bought by the French state in 1891 and stored in Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

2. Monalisa By Leonardo Da  Vinci

Monalisa By Leonardo Da Vinci

Monalisa By Leonardo Da Vinci


  • Artist: Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Year: 1503-1506 perhaps continuing till 1517
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas 
  • Location: The Louvre Museum, Paris
  • Dimensions : 77cm×53cm 
  • Model: Lisa Gherardini

One of the most famous paintings women of all classical times: MONALISA.

The painting is of the Italian noble women Lisa Gherardini. She was the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. The painting was done in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel.  It was believed that this picture have been painted between 1503 and 1506.

It was earned by King Frances I of France and is now the property of the French Republic. It is on a permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797.

Amazing Facts:

Monalisa is one of the most precious paintings in the world. It belongs to the Guinness  World Record. 

The title of the painting, that is known in English as Mona Lisa has been described by Renaissance art historian Giorgio Vasari. He is known for writing “Leonardo committed to painting, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of his wife Mona Lisa”. Mona is an Italian word that is used for addressing someone politely originating from madonna which is similar to words Ma’am, Madam, or My Lady in English. Thus the word became Madonna and it’s short-form sounded Mona. Though traditionally spelled Mona is also spelled in modern Italian as Monna Lisa because Mona being the vulgarity in some Italian dialects. 

Other famous Da Vinci paintings include:

  • The Last Supper
  • St.John Baptist
  • Annunciation
  • Lady with an Ermine etc.


3.Portrait of Dora Maar

Portrait of Dora Maar

Portrait of Dora Maar

  • Artist: Pablo Picasso
  • Year: 1941 
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas 
  • Location: Private Collection
  • Dimensions : 128.3cm×95.3cm
  • Model: Dora Markovic



This milestone in history o famous paintings of women was produced by Pablo Picasso. Picasso’s life crossed a path with this new woman named Dora Maar, whose real name was Dora Markovic, in 1936. She was a young Yugoslavian photographer. She spoke Spanish and was a friend of Paul Eluard.

In Portrait of Dora Maar, she is represented as solemnly seated in an armchair, smiling and resting her head on a pinky finger. The face of the lady is shown in the combination of both frontal and profile view with a red eye and the green eye facing in different directions. These deformations are the hallmark for many people in Picasso’s Art.

Well, because of these distortions Picasso achieved what is said to be “truer than life”. The idea is to express less to remake reality than to show possibilities, in total to capture all the aspects of the sitter 


With every possible pictorial means, he has tried to bring out the physical characteristics, her temperament, and the painter’s vision of her. Certain features are specific to it like the coating of the red nail polish, the long hand, the pose, the large, dark and staring eyes, the black hair, the round chin. The expression is pleasant but distant; eyes sparkle with full of life and intelligence. The cross structure of the chair, the vertical and horizontal stripes of background, and the squared pattern of the skirt give the impression of the prison which makes us believe that the model was confined to narrow and cruel mental space. 

4.Madame X

Madame X

Madame X

  • Artist: John Singer Sargent
  • Year: 1884
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Dimensions: 234.95cm×109.86cm
  • Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan
  • Model: Virginie Gautreau 

This is the title of the portrait painting by John Singer Sargent a young socialite. This painting is a study in opposition.  Sargent in his painting shows the woman posing in a black satin dress, strapped with jewels, a dress which is revealing but hides at the same time. This painting is one of the most controversial and famous paintings of women

The pose for VIRGINIE GAUTREAU was carefully chosen by Sargent. Her body is boldly facing forward and her head is turned in profile. Half of the face is hidden but the part that shows can be said to define more than the full face. 

The lady is standing with the support of the table that echoes her curves. The pose was considered sexually suggestive.

5.The cup of Tea

The cup of Tea

The cup of Tea


  • Artist: Mary Cassatt
  • Year: 1880s
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Dimensions : 92.4cm×65.4cm
  • Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Model: Lydia Cassatt

This beautiful painting is the product produced by Mary Cassatt. It belongs to the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This picture was painted around 1880 to 1881 in Paris. The model of the painting was Lydia, sister of Cassatt. 

Cassatt captures the subject of his frame to be a frequently domestic scene. This type of subject was favored because the women in Cassatt’s Era was not allowed to go out alone.  The Cup of Tea represents a social ritual of drinking tea when women meet. 

6.Woman with a Parasol

Woman with a Parasol

Woman with a Parasol


  • Artist: Claude Monet 
  • Year1875
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas 
  • Dimensions : 100cm×81cm
  • Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
  • Model: Camille Monet and Jean Monet


This painting Women with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son was the product produced by Claude Monet. This painting is also sometimes known as The Stroll. This is an oil painting on canvas in 1875. Monet has shown the artist’s use of color in the classical impressionist style. 

The subject of the frame is his wife Camille Monet and their son Jean Monet capturing a moment from a windy summer day. Monet has skillfully shown the inseparable bond of a mother and her child and the child looking up to his ever role model- his mother. This painting belongs to the collection in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.


7.The Crystal Ball

The Crystal Ball

The Crystal Ball


8.Woman with Fan

Woman with Fan

Woman with Fan

Woman With Fan is a painting by Gustav Klimt. This painting was a result of the influence of the Viennese Secession and Art Nouveau moment. Gustav Klimt is an Australian painter whose work revolves around love, death, and regeneration.

This sensual piece of a lady using an oversized fan to cover her chest. This painting consists of vivid colors and features brightly colored birds upon the yellow background. This lady is more styled in a Japanese dress, as in kimono, and holding a Japanese fan.

Klimt was considered as symbolist painting and was inspired by Japonism, by an art journal called Le Japon Artistique. He also loved to paint female figures. Both of these characteristics can be seen in The Woman with Fan.

9.Girl with Pearl Earring

Girl with Pearl earring

Girl with Pearl earring

  • Artist: Johannes Vermeer
  • Year: 1665 
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Dimensions : 44.5cm×39cm
  • Location: Mauritshuis Museum, The Hague

This is an oil painting on canvas by a Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer and this painting is one of his well-known works. The work is contained in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague. The painting consists of women wearing an exotic dress and as the title suggests, wearing a large earring. Vermeer in his entire lifetime produced 36 known works. The young woman in the painting is standing in a dark shallow area that gradually attracts viewers. The girl is wearing a golden and blue turban, a large pearl earring, and a gold jacket with white collars beneath.

Unlike the Vermeer subjects the lady is not doing her regular chore but unaware of the viewer. The picture appears to be lady turning suddenly whenever a voice called out her name meeting the viewer’s gaze with eyes wide open and lips parted as if she is about to speak. 

10. Woman in her Bath  sponging her Legs

Woman in her Bath  sponging her Legs (famous paintings of women)

Woman in her Bath  sponging her Legs

This painting is produced by Edgar Degas depicting ballet and romance in its project. The French artist has carefully captured the movement in an innovative way that is uniquely his own. The painting shows women rubbing her body after bathing. Most of Edgar’s paintings were sketched spontaneously in real-time and later on completed in his studio. The gentle curve lines of a woman are beautifully drawn and admired for a comfortable relaxing feel with which anyone can relate.


Since ages, women have been proved to be the favorite topic of artists. Women were often pictured as goddesses and mythological characters in ancient art. It was during the fifteenth century when they saw the emergency of an idealized portrait of women more with elaborate dresses. This type of painting was acquired by rich families who wants to showcase their more power and affluence. The famous painting of the Renaissance with a simple attire is MONALISA and other early famous paintings of women are the core of all famous paintings of art history.


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