Famous Drawing Artists

Famous Drawing Artists – Take a Look at the Top Drawing Masters

Many people might think of sketch artists as those people who draw caricatures of tourists at the beach. However, many popular drawing artists were also extremely adept painters, such as Leonardo da Vinci and other drawing masters. Let us explore the most famous drawing artists responsible for producing the world’s most famous drawings.



The Most Famous Drawing Artists

Due to the relative affordability of sketching tools, sketch artists have arisen from many cultures, classes, and regions. Drawing masters have emerged throughout the centuries, from the early charcoal scratchings of ancient man to the modern artists who push the technique in interesting and innovative directions.

Over the years, there were certain famous drawings that stood out from the rest, and despite being drawn centuries ago they are still admired to the present day.

The popular drawing artists who created these timeless works left behind a legacy that scholars and historians have analyzed and reinterpreted over the years – whether it be for their aesthetic beauty, scientific accuracy, or representation of a groundbreaking technique.


Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

Date of Birth15 April 1452
Date of Death2 May 1519
Place of BirthAnchiano, Italy
Famous Drawings●      Vitruvian Man (c. 1490)

●      Self Portrait (c. 1490)

●      Head of a Woman (1500)

Leonardo da Vinci is regarded by many as one of the most remarkable and creative people in Western art history. He was educated as a sculptor and painter at the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence and is also known for his scientific breakthroughs. His unquenchable enthusiasm for knowledge lasted his entire lifetime.

He was always researching, experimenting, and creating, and sketching was a means for him to document his observations of nature.

Drawing MastersVitruvian Man (c. 1492) by Leonardo da Vinci; Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Although Leonardo da Vinci’s completed artworks are rare, he left a significant volume of sketches (nearly 2,500) that reflect his theories, most of which are still conserved in notebooks. These notebooks were loaded with many sketches and drawings of various individuals, as well as some of Da Vinci’s creative ideas and inventions.

He is believed to have begun each painting by first drawing the majority of the artwork’s details.


Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528)

Date of Birth21 May 1471
Date of Death6 April 1528
Place of BirthNuremberg, Germany
Famous Drawings●      Self-Portrait at 13 (1484)

●      Studies of Dürer’s Left Hand (1493)

●      Bacchanal with Silenus (1494)

Albrecht Dürer’s first drawing was a self-portrait done in silverpoint produced when he was 13 years old. He used silverpoint for several of his drawings, particularly those from after 1520 and his voyage to the Netherlands. His first notable self-representation was produced in Strasbourg in about 1493.

When the artist arrived in Italy in 1494, his technique shifted and he began using watercolors for his portrayals.

Sketch ArtistsSelf-portrait at Thirteen (1484) by Albrecht Dürer; Albrecht Dürer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

During his time in the Alps, he produced several scenes of the Alps and collected woodcuts of Martin Schongauer’s works. He developed a wide range of styles and techniques, renowned for the themes and the excellent mediums he used, he was regarded by many as a virtuoso.

He did, however, focus on three major areas: painting, printing, and theoretical publications.


Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475 – 1564)

Date of Birth6 March 1475
Date of Death18 February 1564
Place of BirthCaprese Michelangelo, Italy
Famous Drawings●      Nude from the Back (1505)

●      Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (1511)

●      The Three Labors of Hercules (1528)

According to Vasari, Michelangelo destroyed “a considerable number of his paintings, sketches, and drawings so that no one could know how hard he worked on his artworks and the methods he used so that he would appear flawless as an artist” before his death in Rome in 1564.

Because of the artist’s passion for perfectionism, his graphic work is extremely uncommon and valuable.

Popular Drawing Artists to KnowStudies for the Libyan Sibyl (1511) by Michelangelo; Michelangelo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Even Michelangelo’s nephew was forced to pay a premium price for a set of his sketches that appeared on the Roman market following Michelangelo’s passing. These were most likely the ones his nephew gave to Cosimo I Dei Medici in 1566.


Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

Date of Birth28 June 1577
Date of Death30 May 1640
Place of BirthSiegen, Germany
Famous Drawings●      Bull (1620)

●      Cows (1620)

●      Etude of Lion (1620)

Peter Paul Reubens, like many renowned Renaissance artists who produced art around 100 years before his birth, was a virtuoso at portraying the human body in a range of poses or motions. Even though he made very few compositions that were just intended to be drawings, he is regarded as one of the most prominent drawing masters.

Many of Rubens’ drawings were intended to be the foundations of his oil canvases, and some of his most notable drawings included domesticated animals and other naturalistic settings.

Popular Drawing ArtistsYoung Woman with Folded Hands (c. 1629 – 1630) by Peter Paul Rubens; Peter Paul Rubens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Peter Paul Rubens’ drawings were lacking in detail but they did have extended, flowing hand movements in free form. He sketched directly on the canvas and practiced various perspectives, themes, and concepts on outlined papers.


Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851)

Date of Birth23 April 1775
Date of Death19 December 1851
Place of BirthCovent Garden, London, United Kingdom
Famous Drawings●      A Tree, with a Line of Trees Beyond (1789)

●      Sketches (1819)

Few artists from the Romanticism period were as famous as Joseph Mallord William Turner. The English artist, who was born in 1775, is well-known for his works that depict natural landscapes as well as sea scenes with sailboats and nautical motifs. Turner’s father noticed his son’s creative talent when he was very young, and the young Turner began selling his sketches when he was only ten years old.

While he is best known for making works that are very representative of the Romanticism era, Turner’s drawing skills soar above those of his contemporaries. Turner’s sketches are among the most sought-after by modern art collectors.


Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863)

Date of Birth26 April 1798
Date of Death13 August 1863
Place of BirthSaint-Maurice, France
Famous Drawings●      Landscape with Tree (1853)

●      Nude Person Seated Facing Right (1857)

●      Denial of Saint Peter (1862)

Eugène Delacroix was a prolific draftsman throughout his career, recognized for a drawing style that favored energy, interpretation, and ambiguity above meticulous detail and precision. In the latter years of his life, he created a separate series of ink drawings with these qualities prominently shown.

Individual pen strokes are heavy and forceful, with enough space between them to express their originality, drawing attention to their expressive intensity and quick, spontaneous rhythms.

Famous Drawings by ArtistsTiger (year unknown) by Eugène Delacroix; Eugene Delacroix, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Between 1850 and 1863, Delacroix utilized this drawing style in a variety of subjects, including people, landscapes, compositional studies, animal studies, and copies. A set of figure sketches, the majority of which are of males and number at least 15, have a similar focus with rounded shapes for muscular masses, along with attitudes and gestures which appear contradictory to physical prowess.


Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917)

Date of Birth19 July 1834
Date of Death27 September 1917
Place of BirthParis, France
Famous Drawings●      Two Studies of Dancers (1873)

●      Dancers with Arms Outstretched (1878)

●      Racehorse (1878)

For many decades, draughtsmen’s abilities were overlooked in favor of their paintings, but this medium gradually gained the necessary recognition. Sketches by Edgar Degas are regarded as among the best contributions to the discipline during the entire 19th century.

Degas was a man who was passionate about sketching; it was never just a way for him to prepare for oil paintings.

Celebrated Drawing MastersDanseuse rajustant son chausson (1887) by Edgar Degas; Edgar Degas, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

As with any excellent draughtsman, this artist would return to the same topics over and over to hone his sketching talents. Degas wanted to enhance his sketching abilities early in his career and thought of it as a form of art in its own right that could be exhibited as such, instead of being considered as just part of the process of producing oil paintings.


Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926)

Date of Birth22 May 1844
Date of Death14 June 1926
Place of BirthAllegheny, Pennsylvania
Famous Drawings●      The Long Gloves (1889)

●      Sketch: Grandmother and Child (1893)

Mary Stevenson Cassatt was a painter, sketcher, and printmaker from the United States. She spent most of her adulthood in France, where she met and later exhibited alongside the Impressionists. Cassatt frequently depicted the private and social lives of women of the era, with a focus on the affectionate bonds between children and their mothers.

Cassatt persuaded her rich and powerful American family and friends to purchase art pieces, and by doing so way, more than through her own artworks, she had a long-lasting impact on American preferences.

Examples of Famous DrawingsDetail of The Banjo Lesson (1894) by Mary Cassatt; Mary Casatt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)

Date of Birth30 March 1853
Date of Death29 July 1890
Place of BirthZundert, Netherlands
Famous Drawings●      Road in Etten (1881)

●      Nursery on Schenkweg (1882)

●      Street in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1888)

Vincent van Gogh is, without a doubt, one of history’s most famous artists. His unusual techniques of producing works with broad, sweeping brushstrokes and use of vibrant, dramatic color contrasts and combinations are just a few of the aspects of his work, and many art historians, academics, and critics consider his works to be among the foremost masterpieces of his age.

Van Gogh is believed to have spent a significant amount of time doing drawings and sketches that he eventually used as the foundation for his canvases.

Famous Sketch ArtistsStreet in Saintes-Maries (1888) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)

Date of Birth31 December 1869
Date of Death3 November 1954
Place of BirthLe Cateau-Cambrésis, France
Famous Drawings●      Drawings (1925)

●      Femme Aux Mains Croisées (1940)

●      Vierge et Enfant (1950)

Henri Matisse is most renowned for his paintings, although he also dabbled in sculpting, printing, collage, drawing and sketching. Matisse is regarded as one of the most important artists of the 20th century, alongside artists such as Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp.

He helped to establish the Fauvism art movement, which prospered briefly during his lifetime.

All of his brilliance as a painter sprang from his ability as a draughtsman, his proficiency with a line, especially curving lines that appear easy but are the product of thousands of hours of sketching. He left behind a massive collection of sketches and drawings many of which served as the inspiration for some of his most renowned works.


Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)

Date of Birth25 October 1881
Date of Death8 April 1973
Place of BirthMálaga, Spain
Famous Drawings●      Marie-Thérèse Coiffee d’un Beret (1927)

●      Dancer (1954)

●      Bullfight III (1960)

Picasso is regarded by art historians and academics as one of the most outstanding painters of the Cubist and Surrealist eras. Picasso had a distinct style in which he made many paintings and sketches that showed a very distinct method of presenting the world around him in a way that other creators, as well as critics and historians, found very appealing.

He was known to have done a multitude of drawings that included aspects and qualities of classic Renaissance artwork.

Picasso’s subjects included portraits, still life, animals, and mythology throughout his career. Picasso often produced with only a single, well-considered line in chalk or pencil. The simplicity was striking, and it assisted others in realizing the talents hidden in abstraction.


Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918)

Date of Birth12 June 1890
Date of Death31 October 1918
Place of BirthTulin, Austria
Famous Drawings●      Self-Portrait (1910)

●      Woman in Black Stockings (1913)

●      Standing Nude with Orange Drapery (1914)

Egon Schiele was born in 1890 and gained a reputation for his extraordinary paintings and sketches. The majority of Schiele’s most notable works focused on anatomy and physiology, particularly nude figures that were frequently seen as contentious by art experts and critics. His artworks were regarded as among the earliest of the Expressionist style that developed in the 20th century. Schiele established a sketching style that was unmatched by any other artist of the era.

Many of his most famous drawings were very explicit in nature and were regarded with contempt since they were thought to be sexual in character.

Famous DrawingsSelf-portrait (1910) by Egon Schiele; Egon Schiele, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


We hope you learned a few interesting facts from this list of famous drawing artists. As you have seen, many drawing masters were also painters and capable of producing art in a number of mediums. While some sketch artists use their drawings as a foundation for their oil canvases, many just enjoyed creating famous drawings with charcoal and pencil.



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Frequently Asked Questions


What Did Popular Drawing Artists Sketch?

The range of potential topics for pencil drawings is nearly endless. If you can think of a theme or subject for an oil painting then you can be sure there is the equivalent sketch out there somewhere. Many artists started their canvases by first creating sketch versions to work out the arrangement.


Who Were the Most Famous Drawing Masters?

Many of the most famous painters were also adept sketch artists. In fact, many of them were drawing masters whose sketches were regarded just as highly as their paintings. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Picasso, and Matisse were just as good at sketching as they were at painting.


Cite this Article

Liam, Davis, “Famous Drawing Artists – Take a Look at the Top Drawing Masters.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. November 2, 2022. URL: https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-drawing-artists/

Davis, L. (2022, 2 November). Famous Drawing Artists – Take a Look at the Top Drawing Masters. artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-drawing-artists/

Davis, Liam. “Famous Drawing Artists – Take a Look at the Top Drawing Masters.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source, November 2, 2022. https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-drawing-artists/.

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