10. Number 17A, 1948
Number 17A is a painting by Jackson Pollock, an American painter known for his contributions to the abstract expressionist movement. In 2015, it was sold by the David Geffen Foundation to Kenneth C. Griffin for $200 million.
9. The Scream, 1895
The Scream or Skrik in Norwegian is the popular name given to multiple versions of a composition by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. The German title Munch gave these works is Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). The works show a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky. Arthur Lubow has described The Scream as “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time.”
Edvard Munch created four versions in paint and pastels. The National Gallery in Oslo, Norway, holds one of two painted versions (1893, shown at right). The Munch Museum holds the other painted version (1910, see gallery, below) and also a pastel version from 1893. These three versions have seldom traveled, though the 1893 pastel was exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2015. The second pastel version from 1895 was sold for $119,922,600 at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art auction on 2 May 2012 to financier Leon Black, the fourth highest nominal price paid for a painting at auction and was displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York from October 2012 to April 2013.
In 1895 Munch created a lithograph stone from which several prints produced by Munch survive. Only approximately four dozen prints were made before the original stone was resurfaced by the printer in Munch’s absence.
Both painted versions have been the targets of high-profile art thefts. During the 1994 Olympics the version in the National Gallery was stolen and recovered several months later. In 2004 gunmen took both The Scream and Madonna from the Munch Museum; both were recovered two years later.
8. The Raft of the Medusa, 1818–1819
The Raft of the Medusa or Le Radeau de la Méduse in French is an oil painting of 1818–1819 by the French Romantic painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). Completed when the artist was 27, the work has become an icon of French Romanticism. At 491 cm × 716 cm (16′ 1″ × 23′ 6″), it is an over-life-size painting that depicts a moment from the aftermath of the wreck of the French naval frigate Méduse, which ran aground off the coast of today’s Mauritania on 2 July 1816.
On 5 July 1816, at least 147 people were set adrift on a hurriedly constructed raft; all but 15 died in the 13 days before their rescue, and those who survived endured starvation and dehydration and practised cannibalism. The event became an international scandal, in part because its cause was widely attributed to the incompetence of the French captain.
Géricault chose to depict this event in order to launch his career with a large-scale uncommissioned work on a subject that had already generated great public interest. The event fascinated him, and before he began work on the final painting, he undertook extensive research and produced many preparatory sketches. He interviewed two of the survivors and constructed a detailed scale model of the raft.
He visited hospitals and morgues where he could view, first-hand, the colour and texture of the flesh of the dying and dead. As he had anticipated, the painting proved highly controversial at its first appearance in the 1819 Paris Salon, attracting passionate praise and condemnation in equal measure. However, it established his international reputation, and today is widely seen as seminal in the early history of the Romantic movement in French painting.
Although The Raft of the Medusa retains elements of the traditions of history painting, in both its choice of subject matter and its dramatic presentation, it represents a break from the calm and order of the prevailing Neoclassical school. Géricault’s work attracted wide attention from its first showing and was then exhibited in London.
The Louvre acquired it soon after the artist’s death at the age of 32. The painting’s influence can be seen in the works of Eugène Delacroix, J. M. W. Turner, Gustave Courbet, and Édouard Manet.
7. Impression, Sunrise, 1874
Impression, Sunrise or Impression, soleil levant in French is a painting by Claude Monet. Shown at what would later be known as the “Exhibition of the Impressionists” in April 1874, the painting is attributed to giving rise to the name of the Impressionist movement. Impression, Sunrise depicts the port of Le Havre, Monet’s hometown, and is his most famous painting of the harbor.
Impression, Sunrise is displayed at the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.
6. Liberty Leading the People, 1830
Liberty Leading the People or La Liberté guidant le peuple in French is a painting by Eugène Delacroix commemorating the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France.
A woman personifying the concept and the Goddess of Liberty leads the people forward over a barricade and the bodies of the fallen, holding the flag of the French Revolution – the tricolour, which again became France’s national flag after these events – in one hand and brandishing a bayonetted musket with the other.
The figure of Liberty is also viewed as a symbol of France and the French Republic known as Marianne.
5. Guernica, 1937
Guernica is a mural-sized oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso completed in June 1937, at his home on Rue des Grands Augustins, in Paris. The painting, now in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, was done with a palette of gray, black, and white, and is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.
Standing at 3.49 meters (11 ft 5 in) tall and 7.76 meters (25 ft 6 in) wide, the large mural shows the suffering of people wrenched by violence and chaos. Prominent in the composition are a gored horse, a bull, and flames.
The painting was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country village in northern Spain, by Nazi Germany and Italian warplanes at the request of the Spanish Nationalists. Upon completion, Guernica was exhibited at the Spanish display at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (Paris International Exposition) in the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris and then at other venues around the world.
The touring exhibition was used to raise funds for Spanish war relief. The painting became famous and widely acclaimed, and it helped bring worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War.
4. The Kiss, 1907-1908
The Kiss or Liebespaar in German is an oil painting, with added silver and gold leaf by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, and was painted between 1907 and 1908 during the height of Klimt’s “Golden Period”.
The painting depicts a couple embracing one another, their bodies entwined in elaborate robes decorated in a style influenced by the contemporary Art Nouveau style and the organic forms of the earlier Arts and Crafts movement.
The painting hangs in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere museum in the Belvedere palace, Vienna, and is widely considered a masterpiece of the early modern period.
It is an icon of the Jugendstil—Viennese Art Nouveau—and is considered Klimt’s most popular work.
3. The Starry Night, 1889
Vincent van Gogh
The Starry Night is an oil on canvas by the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June 1889, it depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an idealized village.
It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941, acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. Regarded as among Van Gogh’s finest works,The Starry Night is one of the most recognized paintings in the history of Western culture.
2. Girl With a Pearl Earring, 1665
Girl with a Pearl Earring or Meisje met de parel in Dutch is an oil painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer.
It is a tronie of a girl wearing a headscarf and a pearl earring. The painting has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis in Den Hag, since 1902.
In 2006, the Dutch public selected it as the most beautiful painting in the Netherlands.
Johannes Vermeer (October 1632 – December 1675) was a Dutch painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.
1. Mona Lisa, 1503-1509
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time.
Mona Lisa is Leonardo’s most famous works and become one of the most valuable paintings in the world. Mona Lisa holds the highest known insurance valuation in history at $100 million in 1962, which is worth nearly $800 million in 2017.
Mona Lisa is considered a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, and believed to have been painted between 1503-1517. In 1516, Leonardo was invited by King François I of France to work at the Clos Lucé near the king’s castle in Amboise. It is believed that he took the Mona Lisa with him and continued to work after he moved to France.
King François then has acquired Mona Lisa and made it as a French Republic property. Since 1797 Mona Lisa have been on display at Louvre Museum, Paris.
On 21 August 1911, the painting was stolen from the Louvre. Two years later the thief revealed himself. He was a Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia and had stolen the Mona Lisa by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet, and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed.
After having kept the Mona Lisa in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was caught when he attempted to sell it to directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was exhibited in the Uffizi Gallery for over two weeks and returned to the Louvre on 4 January 1914.
Peruggia then served six months in prison for the crime, but was hailed for his patriotism in Italy.
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