Paintings are not just a piece of art that looks good, a painting evokes emotions from within. The emotions are poured out from the soul of an artist into its painting and it touches the viewer’s heart. Among various types of paintings like landscape paintings, abstract paintings, etc, Portrait painting is one of the most popular genres in painting, where the main focus is on the human subject. The face, expressions, inner essence, and personality of the model are captured by the artist.

These famous portrait paintings are known to people of all ages and cultures as they are the representative of the greatest work of art ever created and they will continue to resonate in the mind of art lovers for many centuries. Here are some of the Famous Portrait Painting from Art History produced by the greatest painters of all time.

 

Mona Lisa

 

Mona Lisa

 

  • Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Year: 1503-1506
  • Medium: Oil on poplar panel
  • Location: The Louvre Museum, Paris
  • Period: Italian Renaissance

 

The Mona Lisa is a half-length portrait painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, he had begun working on this portrait by October 1503 and left it unfinished in 1516 because Leonardo da Vinci’s right hand was a paralytic circa in 1571. The painting of Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world. It is an Italian Renaissance painting that is considered as a masterpiece. It also holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known insurance valuation. It is described as best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world. The painting is in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel. The woman in the painting is thought to be Italian Nobel-woman Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco Del Giocondo. It seems like the women lacking eyebrows and eyelashes follow the viewer wherever they go! The painting now is the property of the French Republic and permanently displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

 

10 Famous Portrait Painting from Art History

Girl with a Pearl Earring

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring

 

  • Artist: Johannes Vermeer
  • Year: 1665
  • Type: Tronie
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Location: Mauritshuis Museum, Netherlands
  • Period: Dutch Golden Age

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring is an oil painting by Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch Golden Age Painter in the year 1665. This is the most renowned work of Vermeer, which depicts a European young woman wearing an exotic dress, an oriental turban, and a large pearl earring. The work resides in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague. The painting represents a young woman in a dark shallow space that draws the viewer’s attention to her. She turns her head looking over her shoulder and locking the viewer’s gaze with her. This painting is not a portrait, but an example of the Dutch genre called a ‘Tronie’, a Dutch term for a character or type of person. The Dutch public declared it the most beautiful painting in the Netherlands. In 1999, American Novelist Tracy Chevalier published a novel of the same name inspired by the famous painting.

 

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

 

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

 

  • Artist: Gustav Klimt
  • Year: 1907
  • Type: Oil, silver, and gold on canvas
  • Location: Neue Galerie, New York
  • Period: Art Nouveau

 

This painting is also called as ‘The Lady in Gold’. It is a painting by Gustav Klimt. This painting took three years to complete from 1903 to 1907. The portrait was commissioned by the sitter’s husband, an industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. It is made of oil paint and silver and gold leaf on canvas. In 1941, the painting was stolen by the Nazis and then displayed at the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere. The portrait depicts Adele Bloch-Bauer sitting on a golden throne, wearing a tight golden dress in a triangular shape.

 

Arnolfini Portrait

 

Arnolfini Portrait

 

  • Artist: Jan van Eyck
  • Year: 1434
  • Medium: Oil Paint
  • Location: The National Gallery, London
  • Period: Northern Renaissance

 

The portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife is an oil painting on an oak panel painted by Jan van Eyck, the Early Netherland painter in the year 1434. It’s a full-length double portrait, representing the Italian merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, in their residence at the Flemish city of Bruges. It is considered as the most original painting in western art with the greatest riddles. A couple stands in a wonderfully furnished room, the woman’s hand on top of the man’s left hand and they are dressed in heavy-looking fabrics and furs. An odd convex mirror on the wall behind the couple reflects the whole scene back at the viewer. The glowing colors highlight the realism of the painting. Some art historians have spent their whole career attempting to decode the symbols, the hands, and the couple and considered it as a unique form of a marriage contract. In 1842, the painting was bought by the National Gallery in London. Its beauty, complex iconography, rich details, and the use of the mirror makes it one of the finest works of art history.

 

Guernica

 

Guernica

 

  • Artist: Pablo Picasso
  • Year: 1937
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Location: Museo Reina Sofia, Spain
  • Period: Surrealism

 

Guernica is a large oil painting in the year 1937 by Pablo Picasso, a Spanish artist. It is grey, black, and white 3.50 meters tall, and 7.76 meters wide painting. It portrays the suffering of people and animals caused due to violence and chaos. This best known Picasso painting is considered as one of the most powerful anti-war paintings in history. Guernica was painted in his home in Paris in reaction to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country town in northern Spain. After completion of the painting, it was exhibited at the Spanish display at the 1937 Paris International Exposition and displayed around the world which brought worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War. Guernica was painted on canvas using matte house paint. This work has gained a monumental status, a reminder of the tragedies of war, and an embodiment of peace. According to Patricia Failing, an art historian, the bull and the horse are important characters in Spanish culture and the painter has used these characters to play many different roles.

 

The Last Supper

 

The Last Supper

 

  • Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Year: 1495-1498
  • Medium: Tempera, Gesso
  • Location: Convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazia, Milan
  • Period: Italian Renaissance

 

The last supper is a late 15th-century mural painting painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1495 and 1498 for the Dominican monastery Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan. It became one of history’s most influential works of art. The painting is a visual interpretation of the last supper of Jesus with his twelve apostles when Jesus revealed that one of them would betray him and the reaction given by each apostle with various degrees of anger and shock, as it is told in the Gospel of John. The Last Supper is one of the most iconic paintings and permanently resides in a convent in Milan, Italy. Leonardo painted the scene dry on the wall of the refectory with a double layer of gesso, pitch, and mastic. He abandoned the traditional method of fresco painting. The Last Supper is one of the most famous paintings in the western world.

 

The Kiss

 

The Kiss

 

  • Artist: Gustav Klimt
  • Year: 1907-1908
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Location: Belvedere Museum, Vienna
  • Period: Art Nouveau

 

The Kiss is an oil painting on canvas by the Austrian Symbolist, Gustav Klimt. It is Klimt’s most famous artwork, its powerful presence resounds from the wall as the life-sized figures wrapped in gold. The Kiss has enchanted viewers since 1908 with its shimmering gold tones, sentimental iconography, and stylized forms. It was painted in 1907 and 1908, during his luminous “Golden Period”. In 1908, it was displayed under the title Liebespaar.

The painting depicts two faces and bodies embracing each other, concealed behind a large golden cloak which encircles the couple, reiterating the immortality of their love. The male force is signified by the powerful coat of masculine black and grey blocks and the flowers on the woman to reflect images of femininity and maternity.

 

Whistler’s Mother

 

Whistler’s Mother

 

  • Artist: James Abbott McNeill Whistler
  • Year: 1871
  • Medium: Oil paint
  • Location: Louvre Abu Dhabi
  • Period: Realism

 

Whistler’s mother is popularly known as ‘Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1’. It was created by American painter James McNeill Whistler in 1871. The sitter in the painting is Whistler’s mother, Anna McNeill Whistler.  The painting is 56.8 inches by 64.2 inches, almost life-sized within the frame. It was painted in oil-on-canvas and displayed in a special frame designed by Whistler. The famous painting has been featured in numerous works of fiction and pop-culture, including films. It has been held at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris since it was purchased by the French state in 1891.

 

American Gothic (10 Famous Portrait Painting from Art History)

American Gothic

 

American Gothic

 

  • Artist: Grant wood
  • Year: 1930
  • Medium: Oil on Beaverboard
  • Location: Art Institute of Chicago
  • Period: Modernism

 

This painting by Grant Wood is one of the most famous works of the 20th century and has been widely parodied in American famous culture. The models in the painting are the artist’s sister and the dentist. The painting depicts a farmer standing beside his daughter who is often mistakenly assumed to be his wife. The woman is wearing a colonial print apron and the man is holding a pitchfork. The pitchfork is linked to the red barn with the tin roof in the background of the painting.

 

Vertumnus, Arcimboldo

 

Vertumnus, Arcimboldo

 

  • Artist: Giuseppe Arcimboldo
  • Year: 1590-1591
  • Medium: Panel Painting
  • Location: Skokloster Castle, Sweden
  • Period: Mannerism, Late renaissance

 

Vertumnus is a painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a Mannerist painter. It is the portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II re-imagined as the Roman god of Metamorphoses in nature and life. The portrait is created out of vegetables, flowers, and fruits that symbolize the abundance of the Golden Age and the perfect balance and harmony with nature under the Emperor’s reign. The painting is Arcimboldo’s most famous work of art.

Will a girl like her portrait drawn as a gift?

Of course they do, but most gifts only last for a couple of days or weeks before the interest is lost. Whenever a recipient sees their sketch however, they will feel the same emotion that they felt after seeing their sketch first time.

Why to gift portrait paintings from art history?

History paintings are defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style.They depict a moment in a narrative story, rather than a specific & static subject, as in a portrait.

Which Portrait paintings from the art history are the best?

Mona Lisa, The Starry night, Girl with a Pearl earing, The Kiss are one of the best portrait paintings from the art history.

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