Top 10 Must-See Paintings! – OurWarwick

Top 10 Must-See Paintings!

Top 10 Must-See Paintings

1) Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1503–06, Oil on poplar, 77 cm × 53 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

I had the pleasure of seeing this painting in August when my boyfriend and I went to Paris. We ran to see it as soon as we got in and within 10 minutes the room was filled with people trying to get a proper look. A must see for anyone remotely interested in art.

2) The Scream

The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893, Oil, tempera, pastel and crayon on cardboard, 91cm × 73.5 cm, National Gallery, Oslo, Norway.

Arthur Lubow has described The Scream as "an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time” and it’s easy to see why. This enigmatic piece has often been emulated in popular culture and the harrowing expression leaves a terrifying imprint on the mind of any viewer.

3) The Starry Night

The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889, Oil on canvas, 73.7 cm × 92.1 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

This is one of the first paintings I ever remember observing in Year 2 at Primary School and it sparked my curiosity and love for art and so has a fond place in my heart. In the aftermath of the breakdown that resulted in the self-mutilation of Van Gogh’s ear, he voluntarily admitted himself to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole lunatic asylum and the painting was completed during his time there.

4) The Sistine Chapel Ceiling

The Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo 1508 and 1512, fresco, Vatican City, Rome.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling decoration consists of nine scenes from the Book of Genesis of which The Creation of Adam is the best known, the hands of God and Adam being reproduced in countless imitations. The complex design includes several sets of individual figures, both clothed and nude, which allowed Michelangelo to fully demonstrate his skill in creating a huge variety of poses for the human figure.


Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937, Oil on canvas, 349 cm × 776 cm, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain.

The painting uses a palette of grey, black, and white, is known as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history, showing the suffering of people, animals, and buildings wrenched by violence and chaos. The painting is believed to be a response to the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian warplanes at the request of the Spanish Nationalists.

6) Monet’s Water Lily Paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie

Again, I was lucky enough to see these extraordinary paintings while on my trip to Paris, they were offered to the French State by the painter Claude Monet on the day that followed the Armistice of November 11, 1918 as a symbol for peace. It was designed as a real environment and crowns the Water Lilies cycle begun nearly thirty years before as the paintings wrap around the room and you become surrounded by them.

7) Girl with the Pearl Earring

Girl with the Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665, Oil on canvas, 44.5 cm × 39 cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands.

The painting is a tronie, the Dutch 17th-century description of a ‘head’ that was not meant to be a portrait. It depicts a European girl wearing an exotic dress, an oriental turban, and an improbably large pearl earring.

8) The Persistence of Memory

The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dalí, 1931, Oil on canvas, 24 cm × 33 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

This Surrealist piece was first shown at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1932, since 1934 the painting has been in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, which received it from an anonymous donor. It is widely recognized and frequently referenced in popular culture, and sometimes referred to by more descriptive titles, such as ‘The Soft or Melting Watches’.

The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, c. 1486, Tempera on canvas, 172.5 cm × 278.9 cm, Uffizi, Florence.

I find this painting interesting due to the fact that Venus’ body is anatomically improbable, with elongated neck and torso. Her pose is impossible as her weight is shifted too far over the left leg for the pose to be held. Also, her positioning on the edge of the scallop shell would certainly cause it to tip over but the painting technique is so polished and refined. 

The Arnolfini Portrait

The Arnolfini Portrait, Jan van Eyck, 1434, 82 cm x 60 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London.

I went to see this painting during the Art History trip to London and was fascinated by the technique, Van Eyck often inscribed his pictures in a witty way and the mirror reflects two figures in the doorway, one may be the painter himself. Arnolfini raises his right hand as he faces them, perhaps as a greeting.

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