Famous Painters

Famous Painters – Explore the Top 25 Painters in History

Who are the top 25 most famous painters of all time? Well, we have it covered for you! In this article, we will explore the top 25 most influential master painters of all time, whose contributions to the field of painting have significantly informed the way that many aspiring artists approach and view art. From your favorite French and Italian painters, to some of our cherished old masters, you will surely enjoy this recap of famous artists from art history.



Mastery Over Medium: The Greatest Painters in Art History

Painting has been a medium that has almost effortlessly developed in the hands of humans since the era of cave-dwellers. The earliest mediums shifted from natural pigments of the earth to refined and processed pigments with varying levels of quality. Over time, the greatest master’s in art history have succeeded in developing their unique styles and techniques by mastering the medium of painting. An artist’s approach to painting is one of the defining elements that determine the success of an artwork in its intended context and many of the greatest painters in art history have no doubt spent dubious amounts of time perfecting their hand.

Luckily for you, we have compiled a list of the most famous painters of all time whom you can draw inspiration from!



Top 25 Most Famous Painters of All Time

Coverage of the best master painters in art history has predominantly been presented in a male-dominated lens, which stems from the fact that art history was very much patriarchally-driven and there were points in history where female artists struggled to gain the same recognition for their incredible talents as compared to their male contemporaries. The selection below is inclusive of some of our favorite femme artists and their contemporaries, which enables a wider lens of representation that you can enjoy!

Famous Portrait ArtistStarry Night (1889) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Giotto Di Bondone (c.1267 – 1337)

Artist NameGiotto di Bondone
Date of Birth c. 1267
Date of Death 8 January 1337
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesProto-Renaissance, Italian Renaissance, and Late Gothic
MediumsPainting, and frescoes
Most Famous Paintings●      Adoration of the Magi (1305)

●      Lamentation (1306)

●      Kiss of Judas (1306)

●      Ognissanti Madonna (c. 1310)

●      Peruzzi Altarpiece (c. 1322)

Giotto di Bondone, most commonly known as Giotto, was one of the first pioneering European artists of the Proto-Renaissance period. Giotto is regarded as one of the most famous painters in art history and celebrated for his deviation from the then-traditional Byzantine style in religious painting. It was no secret that Giotto was talented and even received praise from Italian banker and diplomat Giovanni Villani who claimed that Giotto was “the most sovereign master of painting” at the time.

Some of Giotto’s best works include his frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua featuring Kiss of Judas (1306) and Lamentation (1306).

Most Famous French PainterMadonna Enthroned (1310) by Giotto di Bondone; Giotto, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons


Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

Artist NameLeonardo di ser Piero da Vinci
Date of Birth 15 April 1452
Date of Death 2 May 1519
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesItalian High Renaissance, design, figurative, portraiture, religious art, landscape art, and human anatomy
MediumsPainting, drawing, architecture, sculpture, and science
Most Famous Paintings●      Annunciation (1472 – 1476)

●      Lady with an Ermine (1489 – 1491)

●      The Last Supper (1492 – 1498)

●      Mona Lisa (1503)

●      Saint John the Baptist (1507 – 1516)

Leonardo da Vinci is easily on top of the list as one of the most influential master painters in art history whose talent exceeds the realm of painting. His most famous creation is the Mona Lisa (1503), which is currently one of the most viewed artworks at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (1490 – 1500) is also recognized as the world’s most expensive painting, with a value of over $450.3 million. Da Vinci operated during the Italian High Renaissance and had since established himself as an icon in painting.

Many of his drawings can also be found at Windsor Castle in England under the Royal Collection.

Most Famous Portrait ArtistLady with an Ermine (c. 1489–1491) by Leonardo da Vinci; Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 – 1564)

Artist NameMichelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
Date of Birth 6 March 1475
Date of Death 18 February 1564
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesItalian High Renaissance, Renaissance, and frescoes
MediumsPainting, architecture, sculpture, and poetry
Most Famous Paintings●      Doni Tondo (1504 – 1506)

●      The Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508 – 1512)

●      The Creation of Adam (1510)

●      The Last Judgment (1534 – 1541)

Michelangelo Buonarotti has been praised for centuries by painters and sculptors who admired his contributions to each discipline. An architect, poet, and painter, this old master is most famous for his frescoes at the Sistine Chapel, executed between 1508 and 1512. Another iconic image that continues to feature in popular culture is Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam (1510), which is one of his most recognizable works that can be identified by most people, even outside of the art sphere. Michelangelo was one of the most prolific painters of the Italian High Renaissance who was greatly inspired by works from classical antiquity as well as religious iconography.

Buonarotti was so highly praised in his own time that he was even nicknamed “the divine one”.

Explore Famous ArtistsThe Torment of St Anthony (c. 1487–88) by Michelangelo; Attributed to Michelangelo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Lavinia Fontana (1552 – 1614)

Artist NameLavinia Fontana
Date of Birth 24 August 1552
Date of Death 11 August 1614
Nationality Bolognese
Movements, Themes, and StylesMannerism, portraiture, mythology, religious art, and Carracci
Most Famous Paintings 

●      Child of the Monkey (1575)

●      Assumption of the Virgin with Saints Peter Chrysologus and Cassian (1584)

●      Assunzione della Vergine (1593)

●      Minerva Dressing (1613)

Lavinia Fontana was one of the first and most successful female artists in Western Europe who operated in Rome and Bologna during the 16th century. Fontana was also not only incredibly talented in portraiture and Mannerist style painting, but she also played a major role in influencing other Baroque creatives such as Alberto de Rossi and Alessandro Tiarini. Fontana was the daughter of a painter named Prospero Fontana who trained the young aspiring artist from an early age. By the age of 23, Fontana had produced one of her most famous paintings, Child of the Monkey in 1575, which has been lost to time. One can still view one of her earlier works at the El Paso Museum of Art, which houses Christ with the Symbols of the Passion (1576).

Fontana is perhaps one of the most iconic early female painters whose entire career was dedicated to art with the support of her husband who served as her agent while she mothered 11 children!

Explore Famous American ArtistsPortrait of Bianca Lucia Aliprandi (1602) by Lavinia Fontana; Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Caravaggio (1571 – 1610)

Artist NameMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Date of Birth 29 September 1571
Date of Death 18 July 1610
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesRenaissance, Baroque, still-life, portraiture, and chiaroscuro
Most Famous Paintings●      Boy with a Basket of Fruit (1593 – 1594)

●      Medusa (c. 1597)

●      Judith Beheading Holofernes (1599 – 1602)

●      Saint Jerome Writing (1605 – 1606)

●      The Denial of Saint Peter (1610)

Caravaggio was one of the most famous artists in art history whose approach to painting and technical excellence over the use of the chiaroscuro painting technique went on to influence many artists well into the next century. Caravaggio was a hot-headed character who was also found guilty of murder. His paintings, however, are regarded as iconic and earned him the title of one of the best still-life and portraiture artists of the 16th century. His influence on Baroque painting was immense since his unique style combined the very realistic nature of human expression and emotion with dramatic Baroque lighting, which was incredibly theatrical.

His subject matter revolved around religious scenes, mythology, and creative still-life compositions.

Explore Influential ArtistsDavid with the Head of Goliath (1601) by Caravaggio; Caravaggio, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

Artist NameSir Peter Paul Rubens
Date of Birth 28 June 1577
Date of Death 30 May 1640
Nationality Flemish
Movements, Themes, and StylesFlemish Baroque, classical, Christian themes, history painting, mythology, portraiture, and hunting scenes
MediumsPainting, tapestry design, drawing, and print design
Most Famous Paintings●      The Fall of Phaeton (1604)

●      Old Woman and Boy with Candles (c. 1616 -1617)

●      Descent from the Cross (1618)

●      Portrait of Anna of Austria (c. 1622 – 1625)

●      The Fall of Man (1628 – 1629)

Sir Peter Paul Rubens is one of the most celebrated master painters of the Flemish Baroque style in painting. Rubens operated during the 16th century and specialized in a variety of subject matter with his portraits and commissioned works being among the best of his paintings. Rubens is also one of the last prolific figures in painting to use the wooden panel as a backing in his art. Rubens studied under two major figures in Antwerp at the time, Otto van Veen and Adam van Noort, who specialized in Mannerist paintings. Among the many celebrated artists of his time, Rubens was also inspired by Caravaggio as well as Greek and Roman art.

Some of his most popular works include Descent from the Cross (1618) and The Three Graces (1635).

Explore Famous French PainterVenus in Front of the Mirror (1614) by Peter Paul Rubens; Peter Paul Rubens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Artemisia Lomi (1593 – 1656)

Artist NameArtemisia Gentileschi
Date of Birth 8 July 1593
Date of Death c. 1596
Nationality Italian
Movements, Themes, and StylesBaroque, Caravaggio, allegory, myths, and biblical narratives
MediumsPainting, and drawing
Most Famous Paintings●      Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist (c. 1610 – 1615)

●      Susanna and the Elders (1610)

●      Venus and Cupid (c. 1625 – 1630)

●      Lot and His Daughters (1635 – 1638)

●      Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1638 – 1639)

Perhaps one of the most poetic and masterful Baroque painters, Artemisia Gentileschi was a prominent Italian painter who operated during the 17th century and was an expert in the Caravaggio-styled aesthetic. Gentileschi was also the first female artist to join the Florence-based Accademia di Arte del Disegno and had accumulated a global clientele during her lifetime. Gentileschi covered a diverse array of subject matter that ranged from profound poetic works dealing with allegory to biblical themes and scenes from mythology that made her one of the most sought-after painters of her time.

Gentileschi had many high-profile patrons during her career, including the House of Medici and Cassiano dal Pozzo.

Gentileschi is also a symbol of strength during a time when she faced personal struggles and sexual assault. Her choice to represent key female figures from the bible is also considered an important decision on her part as a manner of highlighting her position within the male-dominated space that often made it difficult for women in art to pursue their passions without being subject to objectification and questions of morality.

Explore Famous Portrait ArtistCleopatra (1620) by Artemisia Gentileschi; Artemisia Gentileschi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 


Rembrandt (1606 – 1669)

Artist NameRembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Date of Birth 15 July 1606
Date of Death 4 October 1669
Nationality Dutch
Movements, Themes, and StylesDutch Golden Age, portraiture, and Baroque painting
MediumsPainting, drawing, and printmaking
Most Famous Paintings●      The Anatomy Lesson (1632)

●      The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633)

●      The Standard Bearer (1636)

●      The Night Watch (1642)

●      The Return of the Prodigal Son (1669)

One of the best master painters in art history, Rembrandt, was a famous portrait artist from the Dutch Golden Age period of the 17th century. Rembrandt created some of the world’s most recognizable paintings and is often dubbed one of the best oil painters of the century. He was a popular figure during his lifetime and produced stunning works such as The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632) and The Night Watch (1642).

Rembrandt is admired for his mastery of the baroque painting style that leveraged sharp contrasts in color and shadow to create brilliant scenes filled with drama, intrigue, suspense, and quiet curiosity.

Discover Famous ArtistsAllegory of Hearing (1625) by Rembrandt van Rijn; Rembrandt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Judith Jans Leyster (1609 – 1660)

Artist NameJudith Jans Leyster
Date of Birth 28 July 1609
Date of Death 10 February 1660
Nationality Dutch
Movements, Themes, and StylesDutch Golden Age, portraiture, genre painting, and still life
Most Famous Paintings●      Serenade (1629)

●      The Happy Couple (1630)

●      Self-Portrait (c. 1630)

●      The Proposition (1631)

Judith Jans Leyster was one of the first Dutch female artists to register with the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke during the 17th century and was a master still-life painter and portraitist of her day. Many of Leyster’s works were attributed to Frans Hals the Elder or her husband, which led to most of her career being overshadowed and somewhat forgotten. It was only in the late 19th century that her works were rediscovered and properly credited.

Leyster chose to represent the lighter side of life in the Dutch Golden Age with cheerful portraits of figures in domestic scenes and merry men with drinks.

Leyster’s paintings reflect a feminine point of view with one of her works, The Proposition (1631), illustrating a woman focusing on her sewing as a man appears to make advances at her while offering her money. It is speculated that the woman may have been offered money for prostitution services but her dedication to her craft or trade in sewing is seen as a rejection of the man’s advances. Other theories include the woman in the painting refusing advances because she is a married woman.

Discover the Best Artists of All TimeBoy playing the Flute (c. 1630s) by Judith Jans Leyster; Judith Leyster, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675)

Artist NameJohannes Vermeer
Date of Birth c. 31 October 1632 (Baptism)
Date of Death 15 December 1675
Nationality Dutch
Movements, Themes, and StylesDutch Golden Age, and Baroque
Most Famous Paintings●      The Milkmaid (c. 1658)

●      The Music Lesson (1662 – 1665)

●      Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665)

●      The Astronomer (c. 1668)

●      The Allegory of Faith (1670 – 1672)

Johannes Vermeer was a famous Dutch Golden Age artist who created few but masterful artworks throughout his career. Vermeer was the type of artist to take his time with a masterpiece and this can be seen in one of his best works, Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665), which also found its way into popular culture. Vermeer chose to paint with expensive pigments, with research showing that he only utilized approximately 20 known pigments. Vermeer, being self-taught, displayed some of the finest photorealistic images in his artworks. Throughout his career, he created around 50 paintings, only 34 of which remain today.

Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí was later inspired by Vermeer’s work, along with other artists such as Simon Duiker and American painter Thomas Dewing.

Discover Influential ArtistsThe Milkmaid (c. 1658–1661) by Johannes Vermeer; Johannes Vermeer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


J. M. W. Turner (1775 – 1851)

Artist NameJoseph Mallord William Turner
Date of Birth 23 April 1775
Date of Death 19 December 1851
Nationality English
Movements, Themes, and StylesRomanticism
Most Famous Paintings●      Fishermen at Sea (1796)

●      The Shipwreck (1805)

●      The Fighting Temeraire (1838)

●      The Slave Ship (1840)

●      Snow Storm, or Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth (1842)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, better known as J. M. W. Turner, was one of the best Romantic painters of the 19th century who specialized in maritime scenes and seascapes. Turner’s imaginative and diverse approach to representing the sea and the relationship between humans, marine vessels, and the use of old marine technologies was evident in his paintings and often executed with a great deal of attention to atmospheric conditions and Romantic moments in naval history.

Some of his artworks appear abstract, yet his keen eye for detail in not only the sea but the sky above is what makes his unique approach to painting so remarkable.

Despite Turner possessing a fine-tuned eye for the sea, one might conclude that painting was a form of escapism for the artist who faced much criticism and controversy during his lifetime. Turner aspired to avoid the trap of success and fame despite his talents and also took up architectural draftsmanship to support his family. Following the passing of his father, his perspective on the world took a turn for the worst and the artist fell into a state of neglect. Today, his paintings are valued at up to $47.6 million at auction.

Discover Famous French PainterThe Burning of the Houses of Parliament, 16 October 1834 (1834) by J. M. W. TurnerJ. M. W. Turner, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)

Artist NameOscar-Claude Monet
Date of Birth 14 November 1840
Date of Death 5 December 1926
Nationality French
Movements, Themes, and StylesImpressionism, French Impressionism, and Modern art
Most Famous Paintings●      The Green Wave (1866)

●      Woman in the Garden (1867)

●      La Grenouillére (1869)

●      Impression, Soleil Levant (1872)

●      Springtime (1872)

●      Madame Monet in a Japanese Kimono (1876)

Oscar-Claude Monet was one of the pioneering artists of the French Impressionist movement, who remains one of the most referenced French painters to date. The Impressionist movement was a profound statement in the mid-19th century and a powerful shift driven by a group of artists who wished to change the banal traditions of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Monet was a leading artist in the demonstration of the Plein-air painting technique, which became a core characteristic of Impressionist painting.

Monet’s most popular painting series, Water Lilies, was executed over the last 30 years of his life and features serene scenes from the pond at his home.

Discover Famous Portrait ArtistThe Magpie (1868-69) by Claude Monet; Claude Monet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926)

Artist NameMary Stevenson Cassatt
Date of Birth 22 May 1844
Date of Death 14 June 1926
Nationality American
Movements, Themes, and StylesAmerican Impressionism, French Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Realism, and Modern art
Most Famous Paintings●      Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1878)

●      Portrait de fillette (1879)

●      In the Box (1879)

●      Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge (1879)

●      Tea (1880)

Mary Cassatt is one of the most famous American artists who is celebrated as an icon of the American Impressionist movement. Cassatt was inspired by the French Impressionist group and befriended her fellow contemporary Edgar Degas, who she worked closely with for the rest of her career. Cassatt was also known to be a famous portrait artist who often painted subjects related to the relationship between mother and child as well as the subtle relationships between the observer and the observed.

Her paintings were created with an intimate gaze toward the moments that express deep bonds among women and draw attention to the different roles that women in the 19th century played.

Female Influential ArtistsThe Child’s Bath (1893) by Mary Cassatt; Mary Cassatt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)

Artist NameVincent Willem van Gogh
Date of Birth 30 March 1853
Date of Death 29 July 1890
Nationality Dutch
Movements, Themes, and StylesPost-Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, and Pointillism
Most Famous Paintings●      The Potato Eaters (1885)

●      Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers (1888)

●      The Night Café (1888)

●      Van Gogh Self-Portrait (1889)

●      The Starry Night (1899)

●      Irises (1889)

Vincent van Gogh was one of the best artists of all time whose paintings inspired many to view the world through kinder eyes. Van Gogh was a leader of the post-Impressionist movement who invented his own unique style and as such became one of the most loved artists in art history. Van Gogh’s most famous painting, The Starry Night (1899) is one that reflects his approach to painting, driven by generous layers of paint in a windswept landscape of the night sky just before sunrise at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Van Gogh’s unique style and application of color have not been successfully replicated yet his works have inspired many artists of Fauvism, well into the 20th century.

Famous French PainterFarmhouse in Provence (1888) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Hilma af Klint (1862 – 1944)

Artist NameHilma af Klint
Date of Birth 26 October 1862
Date of Death 21 October 1944
Nationality Swedish
Movements, Themes, and StylesAbstract art, and Naturalism
Most Famous Paintings●      Evolution, No. 13, Group VI (1908)

●      Group IX/SUW, The Swan, No. 7 (1915)

●      Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece (1915)

●      Buddha’s Standpoint in the Earthly Life, No. 3a, Series XI (1920)

Hilma Af Klint was a famous artist whose paintings were inspired by science, Symbolism, religious practices, and geometry. Klint is an artist who is recognized as a mystic who incorporated her spiritual practice with her abstract approach to art involving complex diagrams and symbols. Important to her practice was also the exploration of the dichotomy of the world and representation of spiral forms alluding to evolution, growth, and progression.

Klint is perhaps one of the earliest female artists to explore abstraction alongside spirituality and discoveries of the 19th and 20th centuries, making her work unique.

Master PaintersThe Ten Largest No. 2 – Childhood (1907) by Hilma af Klint; Hilma af Klint, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918)

Artist NameGustav Klimt
Date of Birth 14 July 1862
Date of Death 6 February 1918
Nationality Austrian
Movements, Themes, and StylesVienna Secession, Art Nouveau, Symbolism, and Modern art
MediumsPainting, and drawing
Most Famous Paintings●      Judith and the Head of Holofernes (1901)

●      Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1903 – 1907)

●      The Kiss (1908)

●      Danaë (1908)

Gustav Klimt was one of the most famous Austrian painters of the Vienna Secession and Art Nouveau movements. Klimt’s paintings revolved around an exploration of the female body, eroticism, figurative artwork, allegory, and landscape scenes. He was most famous for his golden paintings, referred to as his “golden phase” in art, and his unique combination of different designs and motifs in painting that make his work “Art Nouveau”.

Some of Klimt’s most popular paintings include Judith and the Head of Holofernes (1901) and The Kiss (1907 – 1908).

Influential ArtistsDeath and Life (1910-1915) by Gustav Klimt; Gustav Klimt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944)

Artist NameEdvard Munch
Date of Birth 12 December 1863
Date of Death 23 January 1944
Nationality Norwegian
Movements, Themes, and StylesExpressionism, Symbolism, Modern art, and Post-Impressionism
MediumsPainting, and graphic arts
Most Famous Paintings●      Melancholy (1891)

●      The Scream (1893)

●      Love and Pain (Vampire) (1895)

●      Golgotha (1900)

●      Self-Portrait in Hell (1903)

●      The Sick Child (1907)

Edvard Munch was one of the first Expressionist artists to develop a unique approach to painting through the human experience of grief, melancholy, and deep psychological fears. Munch’s painting, The Scream, is vastly known across the globe and was popularized by Western popular culture. Not surprisingly, his influences were artists like Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, who were each unique painters in their own right.

Munch’s Expressionist paintings remain ever-so relatable through the emotions of angst, self-doubt, and sadness are very much prevalent in Contemporary times.

Famous American ArtistsMaddona (1894-1895) by Edvard Munch; Edvard Munch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)

Artist NamePablo Ruiz Picasso
Date of Birth 25 October 1881
Date of Death 8 April 1973
Nationality Spanish
Movements, Themes, and StylesCubism, Modern art, and Surrealism
MediumsPainting, sculpture, printmaking, and theater design
Most Famous Paintings●      Science and Charity (1897)

●      Self-Portrait (1901)

●      The Old Guitarist (1904)

●      Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907)

●      Man with Guitar (1912)

●      Guernica (1937)

Pablo Picasso is a name familiar to all. Picasso was one of the best Cubist painters in the world who not only explored his artistic ideas through Cubism and politics but also printmaking, sculpture, and theater design. Picasso is credited with being the inventor of constructed sculpture, also referred to as “assemblages”. Picasso was a natural-born talent from an early age who was also inspired by the Fauvism movement. Some of his most famous works stem from specific phases in his career, including the blue period, the rose period, and his analytic and synthetic Cubist eras.

Some of his most famous paintings include The Old Guitarist (1904) and Guernica (1937).

Best Artists of All Time l’Aubade (1942) by Pablo Picasso; Wisi eu, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Sonia Delaunay (1885 – 1979)

Artist NameSonia Delaunay
Date of Birth 13 November 1885
Date of Death 5 December 1979
Nationality French-Ukrainian
Movements, Themes, and StylesOrphism, and geometric abstraction
MediumsPainting, fashion, set design, and textiles
Most Famous Paintings●      Portrait of Philomene (1907)

●      Prismes Électriques (1914)

●      Flamenco Dancer (1916)

●      Rythme (1938)

Sonia Delaunay is a famous French painter who created some of the most vivid geometric abstract paintings in the early 20th century. Delaunay is often recognized alongside her partner Robert Delaunay and often in light of her contribution to the art movement known as Orphism. Orphism in the early 20th century was a movement that is also recognized as Orphic Cubism and involves the use of Cubist styles combined with bright colors centered on abstraction. In 1964, Delaunay was recognized as the first female living artist to have a retrospective held at the Louvre Museum. In 1975, she was also bestowed the title of officer of the French Legion of Honor. In 1984, fashion designer Perry Ellis used Delaunay’s prints and colors as inspiration for his fall collection.

Sonia Delaunay was not only a pioneer in her day but also an inspiration beyond the visual arts.

Famous ArtistsSonia Delaunay wearing Casa Sonia creations, Madrid (c.1918-20); AnonymousUnknown author, possibly by Zockoll, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Georgia Totto O’Keeffe (1887 – 1986)

Artist NameGeorgia Totto O’Keefe
Date of Birth 15 November 1887
Date of Death 6 March 1986
Nationality American
Movements, Themes, and StylesAmerican Modernism, and Precisionism
Most Famous Paintings●      Red Canna (1923)

●      From the Lake (1924)

●      Black Iris (1926)

●      Oriental Poppies (1928)

Another top painter is Georgia O’ Keefe who is considered to be one of the most famous American artists of the early 20th century. Her modern paintings often depict close-ups of flowers, cityscapes, and the New Mexico landscape. O’ Keefe believed in expressing the simplicity of life through selection, elimination, and emphasis across subjects to expose the true meaning of things. O’Keefe suffered from her mental health and experienced a nervous breakdown, which affected her painting later in her life but did not stop her completely.

O’Keefe not only exemplifies the beauty in simplicity but also draws attention to the gorgeous colors of the microenvironment and the smaller things we take for granted.

Most Famous ArtistsRed Canna (1923) by Georgia O’Keefe; Georgia O’Keefe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Tamara de Łempicka (1898 – 1980)

Artist NameTamara de Łempicka (Tamara Rosalia Gurwik-Górska)
Date of Birth 16 May 1898
Date of Death 18 March 1980
Nationality Polish
Movements, Themes, and StylesArt Deco
Most Famous Paintings●      La Belle Rafaela (1927)

●      Andromeda (c.1927 – 1928)

●      Self-portrait, Tamara in a Green Bugatti (1929)

●      Les Jeune Fille Aux Gant (1930)

●      Woman with Dove (1931)

●      Adam and Eve (1932)

●      Roses in a Vase (1952)

Tamara de Łempicka was one of the most famous Art Deco Polish artists whose paintings only received significant attention in the 1970s. Łempicka stood out from the group of Art Deco painters in the mid-20th century since she focused solely on portraiture in her own edgy style. Łempicka always aspired to move away from the banality, which she openly expressed as bearing witness to the death of painting that she could not stand and described her process of painting as the rediscovery of the elegance of her models.

Łempicka approached painting with a fresh eye rather than an agenda to painting, which is refreshing and is mirrored brilliantly in her quick and clean-cut brushwork.

The Best Artists of All TimeTamara Łempicka in Her Studio (nd); Fry72, Karel Frydrýšek, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Salvador Dalí (1904 – 1989)

Artist NameSalvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech
Date of Birth 11 May 1904
Date of Death 23 January 1989
Nationality  Spanish
Movements, Themes, and StylesDada, Surrealism, Modern art, and Cubism
MediumsPainting, sculpture, and design
Most Famous Paintings●      The Great Masturbator (1929)

●      The Persistence of Memory (1931)

●      Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) (1936)

●      Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937)

●      The Hallucinogenic Toreador (1968 – 1970)

Salvador Dalí is one of the world’s best Surrealist painters whose dream-like works are like no other. Dalí is admired for his precision in technical approaches to painting as well as his unusual distortion of the ordinary and representation of reality. The Spanish artist was first enchanted by the art styles of Avant-Garde and Cubism and by the 1920s, began his exploration of Surrealism. Dalí’s most famous painting, The Persistence of Memory (1931), was created just before he moved to the United States where he rose to commercial success. In the late 1940s, Dalí moved back to Spain where his style further developed into “nuclear mysticism” informed by his interests in science, mysticism, and classicism.

Dalí’s works address themes related to the unconscious, dreams, religion, sexuality, and personal experiences.

Most Famous American ArtistsSet design for As You Like It (1948) by Salvador Dalí; Folger Shakespeare Library, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954)

Artist NameMagdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón
Date of Birth 6 July 1907
Date of Death 13 July 1954
Nationality Mexican
Movements, Themes, and StylesSurrealism, Symbolism, Magic Realism, Naturalism, Primitivism, and Modern art
Most Famous Paintings●      Self-Portrait with Monkey (1938)

●      The Two Fridas (1939)

●      The Broken Column (1944)

●      The Wounded Deer (1946)

●      Diego and I (1949)

The queen of self-portraiture and symbolism, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is one of the best artists of all time! Kahlo’s paintings are informed by the symbolism and heritage of Mexican culture as well as the personal experiences in her life involving love, betrayal, pain, and identity. It was only in the 70s that Kahlo’s work began to receive significant attention and she has since remained a powerful figure of Mexican art. In addition to exploring her own identity within the politics of a tumultuous relationship, Kahlo was also unpacking questions about postcolonialism and her life-long struggle with chronic pain.

Kahlo had been subjected to a horrific auto accident early in her life, which empowered her to employ painting as a form of expression, healing, and self-reflection.

Most Influential ArtistsSelf Portrait as a Tehuana (1943) by Frida Kahlo; Ambra75, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Amrita Sher-Gil (1913 – 1941)

Artist NameAmrita Sher-Gil
Date of Birth 30 January 1913
Date of Death 5 December 1941
Nationality Hungarian-Indian; British-Indian
Movements, Themes, and StylesModern art, and Post-Impressionism
Most Famous Paintings●      Self-portrait (1930)

●      Hungarian Gypsy Girl (1932)

●      Sleep (1932)

●      Young Girls (1932)

●      Village Scene (1938)

Amrita Sher-Gil is one of the most underrepresented and influential artists from the Indian Modernist era of the 20th century. Sher-Gil first gained recognition for her painting talents at the age of 19 after completing one of her early paintings, Young Girls (1932). Her paintings portray scenes from everyday life and include an exploration of her femininity as well as the livelihoods of women around her. Sher-Gil was inspired by pre-colonial Indian art styles as well as influences from the post-Impressionist era that reflect quite strongly in her painting style.

Sher-Gil passed away at the young age of 28 after slipping into a coma a few days prior to her first solo exhibition.

A day later, Britain declared war on Hungary, and Sher-Gil’s husband, Dr. Viktor Egan, who was also her first Hungarian cousin, was interned as an enemy alien. Sher-Gil’s paintings and legacy continued to influence many artists and her works are known as India’s National Treasures as declared by the Government of India. In 1969, a documentary on the artist was also made, which won the National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film.

Explore Master PaintersSelf-portrait (1931) by Amrita Sher-Gil; Amrita Sher-Gil, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Helen Frankenthaler (1928 – 2011)

Artist NameHelen Frankenthaler
Date of Birth 12 December 1928
Date of Death 27 December 2011
Nationality American
Movements, Themes, and StylesAbstract art, Modern art, Abstract Expressionism, Lyrical Abstraction, and Color Field painting
Most Famous Paintings●      Mountains and Sea (1952)

●      Lorelei (1956)

●      Western Dream (1957)

●      Basque Landscape (1958)

●      Persian Garden (1966)

●      Stride (1969)

●      Robinson’s Wrap (1974)

Helen Frankenthaler is no doubt one of the best Abstract Expressionist painters of the 20th and 21st centuries. Frankenthaler was involved in the 1960s exhibition Post-Painterly Abstraction organized by the art critic and essayist, Clement Greenburg where she exhibited her abstract post-war paintings while introducing a painting genre known as color field painting. Frankenthaler was one of the most influential artists of her time with the introduction of the color field technique that involved the generous application of paint spread out over large areas or fields of the canvas.

Furthermore, the color field approach was defined by the utilization of hues that appeared similar in intensity or tone and set in large formats with simple compositions. The color field technique was the visual foundation of Frankenthaler’s work in the mid-20th century and promoted the “erasure of religious, mythical, and emotional content”.


Each of these famous master painters have all contributed to the field of painting in their unique ways, which not only encourage the exploration of the medium through different world views, but also show us that painting is not just the application of paint on a canvas. Painting can be used as a tool of empowerment and a driving force behind determining the next movement or innovation in painting that shapes the way you, and others, interpret the world.



Take a look at our most famous painters webstory here!



Frequently Asked Questions


Who Is the Most Famous Painter in the World?

The most famous painter in the world is Leonardo da Vinci. He was an Italian Renaissance artist whose multidisciplinary approach to art resulted in some of the most expensive and well-recognized paintings in the world, including the Mona Lisa (1503). Leonardo da Vinci was also one of the most influential artists in the world.


What Was the Most Significant Period for Painting in Art History?

The most significant period for painting in art history is considered to be the Renaissance, which took place between the 14th and 16th centuries. The Renaissance period in painting was incredibly important due to the role that paintings and art in general played in determining and expressing the social status of wealthy figures in Western European society. During this time, painting had undergone significant stylistic changes, with the preference for realistic depictions of popular subjects inspired by antiquity culture.


Which Painting Has the Highest Monetary Value?

The Mona Lisa (1503) by Leonardo da Vinci is a painting that has the highest monetary value in the world, and is valued at an estimated $860 million. This is followed by another Da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi (1490 – 1500), which is valued at $475.4 million.


Cite this Article

Jordan, Anthony, “Famous Painters – Explore the Top 25 Painters in History.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. October 10, 2023. URL: https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-painters/

Anthony, J. (2023, 10 October). Famous Painters – Explore the Top 25 Painters in History. artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-painters/

Anthony, Jordan. “Famous Painters – Explore the Top 25 Painters in History.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source, October 10, 2023. https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-painters/.

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