Visual & Decorative Arts Blog

Top 10 Paintings | 'Water Lilies' by Claude Monet

Posted by Catherine Taylor

Monet produced countless works that are famed and treasured the world over, but the series of paintings of water lilies in his garden at Giverny is what he is best known for.

During the later years of his life, when cataracts were increasingly taking hold, Monet dedicated his life and work to his garden. He prolifically produced over two hundred and fifty paintings of the lilies that lay in his water garden there.

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Topics: Claude Monet, water lilies

Top 10 Paintings | 'Nighthawks' by Edward Hopper

Posted by Josie Mitchell

To Americans Edward Hopper’s (1882–1967) art epitomises their country during a period of change in the early-mid twentieth century. As skyscrapers rose up in New York, Hopper observed the isolation of modern living in a crowded city. In the countryside he observed the landscape in all its beauty and the vernacular architecture of rural and suburban America. Above all the lives of individuals were observed without comment; Hopper left it to the viewer to complete each narrative.

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Topics: Edward Hopper, American art

Top 10 Paintings | 'The Persistence of Memory' by Salvador Dalí

Posted by Laura Bulbeck

Salvador Dalí was the most complex and possibly most controversial artist of the twentieth century. Although his popularity with the public at large has never been in question, the attitude of the art world towards this giant of twentieth-century art has often been more ambivalent. The 1930s are referred to as Dalí's Surrealist period and it was during this decade that he created many of his best-known works. This includes his iconic The Persistence of Memory (1931).

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Topics: surrealism, salvador dali

Top 10 Paintings | 'Fighting Temeraire' by J.M.W. Turner

Posted by Josie Mitchell

Painted in 1839, this painting's full title is The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken up. J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) was in his sixties when he painted it in London, and so it showcases his mastery – particularly of sea and sky – gathered over a distinguished career. Paint is layered on thickly to make up the sky and the sun's rays, which is in contrast to the delicate detail used for the ship's rigging.

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Topics: J. M. W. Turner, romanticism

Top 10 Paintings | ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch

Posted by Gillian Whitaker

Painted in 1893, The Scream is Munch’s most famous work and is generally regarded as a precursor to the Expressionist art movement. The instantly recognizable composition is both instantly striking and lastingly haunting, capturing as it does an intense emotional experience. The now iconic androgynous figure in the foreground is seemingly swept up in the same distortion that affects the landscape. This creates the impression that the whole scene pulsates with agitation and energy, in keeping with Munch’s intention to depict a subject’s personal experience of the world around them.
 

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Topics: Edvard Munch, expressionism

Top 10 Paintings | ‘Starry Night Over the Rhône’ by Vincent van Gogh

Posted by Laura Bulbeck

Vincent van Gogh (1853–90) is without a doubt one of the most famous artists of the Western world. The record auction prices achieved for his paintings, fuelled by the desire to own a part of this troubled soul, are now legendary. In a letter to his sister Willemina, Van Gogh wrote: ‘Often it seems to me night is even more richly coloured than day’, something which is evinced in his beautiful night painting Starry Night Over the Rhône (1888).

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Topics: Vincent van Gogh, Post-impressionism

Top 10 Paintings | ‘In the Well of the Great Wave of Kanagawa’ by Katsushika Hokusai

Posted by Gillian Whitaker

One of Japan’s most iconic artworks, this hugely influential woodblock print was produced in the early 1830s, as the first in a series of paintings by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). Conveyed through bold blocks of eye-grabbing colour, The Great Wave is a dynamic fusion of contrasts – energy and stillness, power and vulnerability – and remains the most recognizable image of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

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Topics: Hokusai, Japanese woodblock prints

Top 10 Paintings | 'Composition VII' by Wassily Kandinsky

Posted by Josie Mitchell

Known for creating one of the first abstract paintings, Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) spent his life experimenting with his artistic talent. With Composition VII (1913) Kandinsky tried to capture the feeling of hearing music using a cacophony of form and colour that make a truly distinct style. It is considered to be one of his most recognisable and successful works.

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Topics: Wassily Kandinsky, abstract art

Infographic | Salvador Dalí

Posted by Maria Tissot

Links:

  • You can see the other titles in this series, including Monet and Van Gogh, on our website
  • If you would like to know more about Dalí, you can read why we think he is one of the world's best painters here.
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Topics: surrealism, salvador dali

Top 10 Paintings | 'The Kiss' by Gustav Klimt

Posted by Laura Bulbeck
One of the founders of the Vienna Secession movement, Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) is often regarded as the greatest painter of the Art Nouveau period. The Kiss (1907–08), possibly Klimt's most famous work, is a shining example of his ‘ golden phase’. Klimt had experimented with using gold in some of his earlier works, such as Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), but he now started to use increasingly sumptuous ornamentation on a regular basis.

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Topics: Gustav Klimt, Viennese Secession

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