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Fascinating Oil Paintings You Must Know About

The origin of oil painting dates back as far as the 7th Century AD in the form of murals painted by Buddhists in Afghanistan. The practice essentially got recognition in 15th century Europe after Jan van Eyck created a formula for oil paints. Since then, we have witnessed numerous artists who created magic on canvas and built their legacy through this medium.

Famous oil painting Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh

Let TERAVARNA take you on a journey to experience some of the most iconic oil paintings you must see at least once in your lifetime. These artworks are a representation of the genius of their respective artists. They are also a window to different eras, genres, cultures, and stories of evolution in art over the years. So keep reading to find out about some of the most famous oil paintings that have ever been created with us.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Famous Oil Painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

At the top of the list is one of the most expensive paintings in the world, which is famous for all the right reasons. Housed in the Louvre Museum, the Mona Lisa is one of the most remarkable oil painting portraits to know about. Leonardo da Vinci created the painting in the early 16th century but it manages to charm the viewers with its enigmatic smile even today.

However, what makes this oil painting so important is Leonardo’s use of his groundbreaking painting technique – sfumato. It is a blending technique that replaced the practice of outlining objects in a painting. Instead, it shows a gradual transition of color and tones, and light and dark to give the subject a more realistic appearance. Another captivating feature of the painting, that you can experience in person is that the eyes of the lady follow you around the room. If you don’t believe us, visit the Louvre and see for yourself.

The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

Famous Oil Painting Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

This fascinating landscape painting is a burst of colors and emotions on canvas by Vincent van Gogh. It is said that the artist was hallucinating under the influence of treatment drugs when he painted this. Hence the painting not only shows van Gogh’s brilliant artistry but also his inner turbulence and emotional depth. 

The artist’s emotions aside, there are still several factors that make this famous oil painting an important work of art. It is characterized by its bold use of blues and yellows in swirling brushstrokes offering dreamy serenity to the viewers. This experiment with color and technique in the painting set the way for the emergence of modern art, making it a seminal piece of work. It is presently on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí

Famous Oil Painting The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí

Completed within just five hours, the next painting on the list is one of the most important works of the 20th century. Created by Spanish artist Salvador Dali, it is a preeminent artwork of the Surrealism art movement. This oil painting on canvas depicts four melting clocks that have now been rendered useless instead of telling time. Dali took his inspiration for the painting when he saw a piece of Camembert cheese melting in the sun. 

It follows the concept of surrealism to describe familiar objects in unfamiliar ways, like soft clocks and a fly casting a human shadow, etc. The artwork takes you to an imaginary world where hard and soft surfaces can coexist. Overall, Dali aimed to create a composition that resembles a dream more than reality and succeeded in it with flying colors. To experience this unusual piece of art, you need to visit MoMA in New York City soon.

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn

Famous Oil Painting The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn

This painting by the Dutch Golden Age master Rembrandt van Rijn is one of his earliest and most dramatic works. The painting portrays a biblical scene with Christ and his disciples on a fishing boat, stuck in a seastorm. The mast of the vessel has divided the painting into two triangles, with each triangle depicting a different emotion. 

The right shows the almost crashing waves, darkness, distressed disciples, and a vessel with lost control. Contrarily, the left triangle is clearer, less cloudy, and better lit. It is a perfect example of the Italian art term chiaroscuro, showing the contrast between light and dark. On a closer look, you can spot a disciple in a hat, looking directly at the viewer. It is supposedly a hidden self-portrait of the artist. The painting is the only seascape painted by van Rijn. However, it was stolen during a museum heist and its whereabouts are now unknown. 

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

Famous Oil Painting The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

This famous oil painting by Gustav is considered his best work and also the most controversial. This abstract painting depicts two kneeling lovers entangled in an embrace symbolizing their union. They adorn lavish golden robes where the man has a rectangular black and white pattern symbolizing masculinity and strength. The woman on the other hand has colorful flowers in her hair and round ornamental patterns on her robes as symbolism of her femininity, love, and tenderness. 

It is an exquisite piece of work where the artist has used real gold leaves, silver, and platinum to give it a glimmering effect. The backdrop of the painting is a mystical golden for the cosmos and the meadows are their connection to the earth and their union is bound together by their love. Despite the controversies it created for its suggested eroticism, this beautiful oil painting was the peak of Klimt’s Golden Period. You can now find it at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Famous Oil Painting Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Guernica is the most influential anti-war painting ever created. This oil painting by Pablo Picasso is not only one of his best works, but also a detour from his usual colorful painting style. The blue, black, and white abstract art shows the suffering of humans and animals caused by the chaos of wars. Picasso created it post the bombing of Guernica, a Spanish village, by Nazi Germany.

This lifesize famous painting carries deep meaning showing fallen war heroes, broken weapons, decapitated civilians, a mother grieving her dead child, and animals like a horse, bull, and a bird with different symbolisms. The painting had such a strong impact that it traveled the world for nineteen years to create awareness about the Spanish Civil War. Viewing the painting in person can be a sobering experience and you can do so by visiting Museo Reina Sofía, in Madrid, Spain.

An Odyssey of Oil Paintings Across the World

Oil paintings are one of the most widely loved mediums of painting across the globe and are rightfully so. For centuries, this medium has been an ally in creating well-known masterpieces that will continue their legacy for years to come. All the paintings that we have mentioned, they are brilliant examples that have fascinated and inspired the world for generations. Their timeless appeal is never going to fade any time soon. 

So next time, if you decide to visit any of those popular museums across the world, do not miss out on these artworks. While they may seem like just a painting to many, they are actually incredible and unparalleled experiences, that will remain with you for a very long time.

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