Top 10 Greatest Artists
here have been many spectacularly talented painters throughout the human history who transformed art through their radical innovations which spanned many different periods and art movements. So it is going to be daunting task for any one to narrow down the list of greatest painters of all time. Appreciation and enjoying art is considered to be subjective hence its bound to have different opinions. Therefore for the purpose of this blog posts we will take a look at some of the greatest painters and their works with a caveat that some of you readers may not agree with.
1. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
Leonardo da Vinci is known to be one of the world’s greatest artists. He created rare masterpieces of art such as ‘The Mona Lisa’ and The Last Supper’ to obtain perfection.
His first work of significance was the “Adoration of the Magi.” He introduced themes of movement and drama and also pioneered the use of Chiaroscuro; a technique of defining forms through the contrast of light and shadow.
The Last Supper is one of the greatest religious paintings. It shows great feeling and emotion as Christ is about to announce his imminent betrayal by Judas.
The Mona Lisa happens to be one of the world’s most famous and intriguing pictures. Her encapsulating smile is both fascinating and intriguing.
2. Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890)
Vincent Van Gogh was an artist of exceptional talent. His style was instinctive and spontaneous. Van Gogh played a key role in the development of modern art.
He was engrossed in art and would prioritize it over more mundane matters. His simplicity was to draw everything from nature, portraits of friends, everyday objects and the vast night sky. During his lifetime, he sold only one painting. It is ironic that now Van Gogh’s paintings are some of the most expensive in the world. During the last two years of his life, Van Gogh was at his most productive as a painter. He developed painting with quick movements of the brush which created strong and arresting images. He drew increasingly avant-garde style shapes which foreshadowed modern art and its abstract style. Van Gogh thought of his painting as a spiritual pursuit.
3. Rembrandt Harmenszoon (1606 – 1669)
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, A Dutch Master and one of the great artists the world has ever known. Rembrandt did not get inspired by studying and he left university to begin an apprenticeship as a painter.
Rembrandt loved to paint alone. In fact, he did want to be disturbed while painting and often would take an oath to work in pin drop silence. Rembrandt incorporated the art of chiaroscuro which is a dramatic use of lighting. Rembrandt incorporated the art of chiaroscuro which is a dramatic use of lighting.
This technique was used to give great depth and emotion to the faces he painted. Rembrandt had the talent to give an impression of a thinking mind behind the face. Apart from producing many paintings and portraits, Rembrandt produced many etchings.
4. Michelangelo (1475–1564)
Michelangelo was a renowned Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, poet and architect. He is one of the most influential Western artists of all time, famous for his Statue of David, The Pieta and the great paintings of the Sistine Chapel, The Vatican.
His love for sculpting was more than painting, feeling that sculptor allowed the creation of living works of art.
His great ambition was to improve upon the great classics of Greek and Latin art and become famous throughout the artistic world. Despite the magnitude of the task of Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo did not want to delegate any work to assistants. His urge was to succeed alone; he felt like it was his divine mission. In his final years, he became increasingly religious. The depth of his religious feeling can be seen through his poetry and the direction of his art. Michelangelo was a unique artist who created works of such sublime beauty that his reputation will always be treasured forever.
5. Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Claude Monet was one of the greatest modern painters and the main inspiration for the new art movement of impressionism. He and his contemporaries captured the light of nature on canvas in a unique, spontaneous and lively style. His paintings had a wide range of subjects ranging from urban scenes to his own beloved formal garden. Monet strived to capture the essence of what he saw in nature, without being constrained by formal ideas of style and substance. For him, nature was of great influence, and he spent hours absorbed in nature – especially at his garden in Giverny.
His paintings were plentiful and he innovated throughout his long artistic life. His paintings evoked a rural ideal and the original beauty of nature. From Monet and the impressionist’s innovation, it paved way for radical new approaches for the next generation of artists.
6. Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, ceramicist and poet. He was a founder of Cubism and one of the most influential artists of the Twentieth Century. Picasso was a significant peace activist whose art depicted the horrors of war.
His early artistic career went through various states. The first stage was known as the ‘Blue Period’ where his paintings were dominated by different shades of dark blue; they were also often melancholic. Later, Picasso entered a phase known as ‘The Rose Period’ Losing the sadness of his previous ‘Blue Period’, Picasso painted circus clowns, harlequins and people from the circus. He continued to develop a new form of painting known as ‘cubism.’ Cubism involved capturing the essence of the subject on the canvas but exaggerating certain features. The colors were always dull – greys, brown and neutrals. One of his most famous paintings was his mural of the Guernica bombing (1937). Picasso’s painting immortalised the tragedy as a prominent event in the Twentieth Century.
Another famous painting of Picasso was his simple bird drawing a symbol of peace which was telling of a new phase in Picasso’s art – the power of simplicity.
7. Raphael (1483 – April 6, 1520)
Raphael was a renowned Italian painter whose paintings were admired for their beauty, refinement and grace. His perfection of form and technique is held up as an ideal for other painters to emulate. He became known as the “Prince of Painters.” Grandeur, beauty and perfection were the hallmark of his paintings. Raphael painted figures from the Bible and also personalities of antiquity, such as the famous painting of the School of Athens, which depicted Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers.
He employed a technique of drawing his paintings in rough before beginning the painting properly. These drawings were used to work on composition and form. He might come up with several drawings per painting, which showed different approaches to the same subject.
8. Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)
Auguste Renoir was one of the founders of impressionism which was a revolutionary new development amongst young painters, seeking to develop art in less formal directions. He was famous for his rich, colourful paintings of Parisiens, which captured the excitement and life of Paris around the turn of the century.
He combined aspects of both the classical form and impressionist colour and freedom. His art contained vibrant combination of colours. In classic impressionist style, he did not use rigid lines and merged objects effecting a sense of dream-like consciousness. He also painted many portraits of women which were often in nude, focusing not on the sexual aspect but often of everyday experiences. His paintings are rich in saturated colour, giving a life-like intimacy. He was constantly developing and was instrumental in moving beyond impressionism and opening up new directions in art.
9. Jan or Johan Vermeer (1632-1675)
Jan or Johan Vermeer was a painter from the ‘Golden Age of Dutch Painting’. He is now regarded as one of the greatest proponents of Baroque painting whose focus was on simple portraits and household scenes. His ability to illumine everyday objects with great dignity and light, is greatly admired.
Jan was slow at his work, producing only three paintings a year. This was partly due to his technique of granular painting known as pointille. He built up layers of colour –and that enabled a depth of colour to shine through. Vermeer was also known for his portraits – often of women. The portraits capture a kind of reassuring calm, poise, dignity and contentment with everyday life.
The Girl With A Pearl Earring is widely considered a Vermeer Masterpiece. It is one of the greatest portrait pictures ever painted and is sometimes called as the “Mona Lisa” of the North.
10. Paul Cézanne (1839-1906)
Paul Cézanne was a French artist who influenced both impressionists and later fauvists, romanticists and cubists. He displayed the ‘simple beauty’ of the South of France using innovative, avant-garde techniques which displayed the shapes and colours of the landscape.
His style of his paintings moved beyond a classic impressionism. His use of planes and blocks of colour gave a more abstracted observation of nature. But still he always felt nature was his great guide and influence.
He is also known for his many snapshots of life including Still Life with Jar, Cup, and Apples (1877). Cezanne was also a complete portrait artist developing a powerful 3D sense of character. His five paintings in the series “Card Players” are known for their life-like symbolism.