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6 Most Famous Oil Paintings

Paintings by famous oil painters are an effective means of conveying emotions and conveying deep meaning, providing them with an edge over other art forms.

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night are among the most beloved oil paintings ever created; others, such as Pablo Picasso's Guernica, have become iconic symbols against war.

1. Jan van Eyck

Jan van Eyck was one of the premier European artists. Known for his realistic painting techniques and use of natural lighting to produce lifelike images, Van Eyck also used symbolism and subtle nuance in his pieces that often resulted in emotionally stirring paintings even though his subjects primarily consisted of everyday people rather than royalty or religious figures.

Although little is known of Jan's personal life, it is believed he had a brother named Hubert (also Huybrecht), with whom he collaborated on numerous pieces. Hubert likely assumed responsibility for Jan's artistic education at their home in Ghent; however no documents from that period exist to verify this claim.

Van Eyck was an artist of impeccable taste, which is evident in his paintings. He would take as long as necessary to ensure every detail was flawlessly rendered, from the glitter of gold thread in their costumes, to creases on men's chaperon hats.

His passion for detail is what made his paintings so captivating, and has ensured its lasting legacy. Additionally, he was adept at using symbolism to convey messages - his works often depict references to religion, marriage and love within them.


Caravaggio lived an eventful life. His entire family perished from bubonic plague, while his unpredictable behavior got him in all sorts of trouble - throwing stones at his landlord's home, insulting patrons, and killing someone in a swordfight among them. Unsurprisingly he spent much of his adulthood as an exile.

He remained an immensely successful painter despite this handicap, though. Not only was he adept at exploring humanistic narratives but he was also skilled at chiaroscuro, an art technique using light to create contrast and depth in art works such as Young Sick Bacchus that depicts him clutching yellow grapes to match his subject's yellow skintone.

Caravaggio was known for the striking contrasts, stark lighting effects and barbarity of his work. This portrait could have been inspired by Mario Minniti - an old friend and fellow painter who often posed for him in paintings he created.

Caravaggio pioneered the tavern scene genre that would come to define his later career, using this style to elicit drama and tension that far outshone any produced by his contemporaries. This painting is considered as the precursor of its kind, leading to an entire genre of paintings depicting tavern scenes full of deviant characters gambling, feasting and otherwise enjoying themselves at these gatherings.


Vermeer was best-known for his intimate genre paintings depicting female figures engaging in everyday activities near windows that let in natural light, often situated near windows that let in natural light from outside. His mastery of color harmony and use of light make these works exceptional; furthermore, his unique painting technique involved using thin layers of gray or ocher ground layer before applying multiple transparent glaze layers to define forms and define forms further.

Vermeers' work focused on domestic and artistic subjects, often featuring women. His paintings had an air of calm that conjured an image of peaceful living in Delft; using light and perspective to create the impression of space he is also noted for his masterful handling of shadows.

Vermeers works often feature religious undertones, yet one of his more iconic paintings, Woman Holding a Balance stands out due to its depiction of an activity many would see as mundane. Vermeer displayed his skill at depicting light through its effect on clothing as sunlight streamed through her window and lit her clothing richly colored. Together with Astronomer, these two are among the only remaining Vermeer paintings depicting male subjects; Vermeer himself belonged to the Jesuit order and named one of his sons after its founder; one such painting depicted astronomer depicted male subjects that depict male subjects who also were created by Vermeer himself!


Rosa Bonheur stood out during a period when women weren't generally accepted to art schools and most went into domesticity instead. With her father's backing she studied drawing at Paris' Ecole des Beaux-Arts where she quickly gained proficiency at realistic rendering - becoming adept at painting animals which fascinated both men and women as well as landscapes and portraits.

One of Bonheur's first paintings to become well-known was Plowing in the Nivernais, which won her a medal at the 1849 Salon and is currently displayed in Musee du Luxembourg. She clearly loved horses as evidenced by many of her works that sought to depict man and nature living harmoniously together.

Bonheur was an outstanding artist of her day who painted depictions of horses at markets throughout Paris; Bonheur did not portray animals merely as accessories to humans but instead highlighted their beauty and independence, showing great respect for each animal's unique individual personality. Her Horse Fair painting serves as an outstanding example.

Bonheur's Horse Fair was shown at Paris Salon to great acclaim, then displayed by Queen Victoria herself in England, who greatly admired it. As her work became immensely popular, Bonheur quickly earned enough money to purchase both a chateau and farm in Fontainebleau Forest nearby where she could study animals more thoroughly - she was an expert at animal anatomy as well as believing each had its own soul.


Gustave Courbet was a passionate French artist known as a rebel with a deep-seated passion for art. He would visit museums to observe other artists' works for inspiration, though without formal training himself he learned much from master painters such as Jose de Ribera, Zurbaran and Velazquez as well as Rembrandt and other Dutch painters to recreate their techniques.

Courbet was among the pioneering modernist artists who went beyond traditional art forms. His paintings portrayed scenes from daily life and were not afraid to depict naked bodies. Additionally, light was often used to add depth and create more realistic effects in his paintings; this technique ultimately allowed Courbet to develop his signature style.

Some of his paintings were divisive and many critics considered them vulgar; this was due to his interest in Erotic Realism which he created as an alternative style; The Woman Seducing Herself caused outrage among feminist scholars in the 20th century.

Courbet's painting The Meeting, depicting him meeting his patron Alfred Bruyas and showing their great respect for one another, is another iconic oil work by this acclaimed French artist. It depicts their meeting as well as Alfred's gesture demonstrating it.

6.Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was an eminent Dutch painter renowned for creating some of the world's most iconic oil paintings. After studying art in Antwerp and being heavily influenced by Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens' works, Vincent began gravitating toward more contemporary styles during a two-year stay in Paris - meeting Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac; these encounters helped his style blossom further.

Van Gogh often painted landscapes, but he also experimented with different colors and subjects. He was heavily influenced by Japanese prints known as ukiyo-e, which used striking forms and vibrant hues to depict nature's beauty. Van Gogh found inspiration for Irises from flowers growing at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum garden in Provence; one experiment he conducted using more muted tones.

Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear is an important symbol for this artist to demonstrate the significance of artistic creation in his life and cope with mental illness. He believed that creating paintings could provide him with relief; in addition, his hopes were that they would continue inspiring millions even after his passing away; this wish has indeed come true today!

Van Gogh created this painting while staying at the hospital in Saint-Remy-de-Provence to treat his ear injury. Hoping the climate would aid his healing, he immersed himself in painting with renewed zeal - producing this dramatic depiction of a swirling blue sky that captures his intense emotions.