Famous canvas paintings through time.


Beautiful canvases have graced our walls since the beginning of time. We use the word ‘canvas’ loosely here as anything can be a canvas – wood, plastic, stone, linen, rock. Artists of all styles, abilities and experiences have work hanging in halls, museums, galleries, homes, businesses and more! Think everything from Picasso, Andy Warhol and Monet to local canvas artists who sell their works to your favourite restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs. We’ve compiled a list of famous paintings across the globe. These famous canvas paintings are recognisable and beloved by art lovers and art novices alike!

1. The Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci – 1503

famous canvas paintings
The Mona Lisa is a half-length portrait painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci.


The Independent wrote an article stating that The Mona Lisa is “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied canvas art in the world.” It is painted in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel. It had been believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. Famous canvas paintings do not compare to the legacy of The Mona Lisa!

Location: Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

2. The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh – 1889

The Starry Night
The Starry Night is an oil-on-canvas painting by the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.

During his time at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Vincent van Gogh created some of his most famous canvas paintings. He painted the view featured in The Starry Night canvas art over and over, capturing the view in different lightings and times of day.

Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, United States.

3. The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli – 1480’s

famous canvas paintings
The Birth of Venus is a painting by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli, probably executed in the mid 1480s.

The Bird of Venus depicts the goddess Venus arriving at the shore after her birth, when she had emerged from the sea fully-grown. The painting is on two pieces of canvas, sewn together before starting, with a gesso ground tinted blue.

Location: The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

4. The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dalí

The Persistence of Memory is a 1931 painting by artist Salvador Dalí and one of the most recognizable works of Surrealism.

Dali had studied psychoanalysis and the works of Sigmund Freud before joining the Surrealists. The faithful transcription of dreams has always played a major role in Dali’s paintings.

Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, United States.

5. The Treachery of Images, René Magritte – 1929

Famous canvas paintings
Also known as ‘This Is Not A Pipe’.

The painting shows an image of a pipe. Below it, Magritte painted, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe“, French for “This is not a pipe”.

“The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a pipe”, I’d have been lying!” — René Magritte.

Location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, United States

6. Shot Marilyns, Andy Warhol – 1964

Shot Marilyns is a series of silkscreen paintings produced in 1964 by Andy Warhol, each canvas measuring 40 inches square, and each a portrait of Marilyn Monroe.

Pop artist Andy Warhol had a fascination with Hollywood and fame. A legend of the silver screen, Marilyn Monroe is widely considered to be the epitome of Hollywood glamour. After her death at the age of 36 in August 1962, Warhol began immortalising her in his work.

Located: The Factory on East 47th Street, Manhattan, United States.

7. Hope, Shepard Fairey – 2008

The “Hope” poster is an image of US president Barack Obama.

The ‘Hope’ image was widely described as iconic and came to represent Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Shepard Fairey created the design in a day and printed it first as a street poster. It was then widely distributed—both as a digital image and other paraphernalia—during the 2008 election season, with approval from the Obama campaign.

Located: Smithsonian Institution, Washington, United States.

8. The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Hokusai – 1831

‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ can be found in Sumida Hokusai Museum, Tokyo, Japan.

A glorious piece of wall art, the print depicts three boats moving through a storm-tossed sea with a large wave forming a spiral in the centre and Mount Fuji visible in the background. Hokusai cleverly played with perspective to make Japan’s grandest mountain appear as a small triangular mound within the hollow of the cresting wave.

Located:Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States.

9. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer – 1665

The Girl with a Pearl Earring has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague since 1902 and has been the subject of various literary and cinematic works.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring is a signed art painting, but not dated – it is speculated to have been painted around 1665. After the most recent restoration of the painting in 1994, the subtle colour scheme and the intimacy of the girl’s gaze toward the viewer have been greatly enhanced.uring the restoration, it was discovered that the dark background, today somewhat mottled, was originally a deep enamel-like green.

Location: Mauritshuis, Den Haag, Netherlands.

10. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat – 1884

famous canvas paintings
A leading example of pointillist technique, executed on a large canvas, it is a founding work of the neo-impressionist movement.

Critics believe that ‘La Jatte’ represents the French bourgeoisie, a decaying class that has fallen victim to lust and vice, and which is now in the shadows.

Location: The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, United States.

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