Throughout history, artists have focused on the incredible beauty of the female figure. Many of the world’s greatest painters were largely enthralled in creating works that captured women in their most beautiful state.
Many of the paintings that many art historians and critics consider to be among the best works of all time are those which focus on women in some form.
From the earliest periods of human history through the Renaissance and well into the present day, artists from virtually every major movement or style have focused on works that involve women.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the most notable paintings ever created that involve women and discuss the various elements that make them so well-known among the many artworks from each period.
Famous Paintings of Women
1. Mona Lisa – Da Vinci
Without a doubt, one of the most famous artists in history is Leonardo Da Vinci. His works are among the most recognized of any painter in the Renaissance period that took place in and around Italy beginning in the late 1400’s.
Da Vinci’s iconic painting is one that art historians and critics still consider to be the most famous work in history.
The painting known as the Mona Lisa was done in 1503 and features the portrait of a young woman whose identity is still shrouded in mystery to this day.
Also Read: Famous Paintings of People
It is said to be the most talked-about painting in human history as critics have discussed many elements of the famous work since it was created more than 500 years ago.
The woman in the Mona Lisa is thought to be an acquaintance of Da Vinci and his aim in painting this famous portrait was simply to highlight the woman’s natural beauty as she is seen sitting with her hands folded, a somewhat curious expression on her face.
2. Girl with a Pearl Earring – Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer was well-known during the 17th century as one of the leading artists of what is known as the Dutch Golden Age of art. He was known for his uncanny ability to portray people and landscapes, as well as many other figures, with an incredible amount of realism.
Many of Vermeer’s best paintings have characteristics that make them appear to be somewhat photorealistic compared to other works from the same time period.
His work is considered to be his best is Girl with a Pearl Earring, which was created in 1665.
This simple portrait shows a young woman posed in a unique manner as she is seen looking over her shoulder back toward the viewer with a youthful beauty that is said to be one of the most distinctive elements of the work.
The girl’s clothing, as well as her head wear and earring, are indicative of very expensive items that distinguish the young woman as someone of high social status.
The darkened background only acts to further highlight the girl’s facial expression and skin tone, as well as her deep blue eyes which match the hue of the blue cloth covering her head.
3. Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird – Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo is revered as one of the most iconic female artists and cultural figures in Mexico’s colorful history. The artist is famous for her unique portrayals of various figures, most notably female figures that often included herself as the central focus of the painting.
Kahlo’s 1940 painting titled Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird is one of the best known self-portraits ever done in her long career.
She is seen in the painting as wearing a white dress or shirt as her body is shrouded by the branches of a thornbush that seems to envelop her head and shoulders.
In this painting, Kahlo is seen as having her usual morose and somewhat stern expression as she gazes back at the viewer’s direction. She also added interesting background imagery with a small monkey behind one shoulder and a black panther seen over the other.
4. Whistler’s Mother – James McNeill Whistler
James McNeill Whistler is remembered as one of the most famous American artists from the 19th century when the country’s artwork was largely focused on the everyday lives of those who lived in the United States.
His most recognizable painting is one he created in 1871 with his own mother as the central figure.
Known as Whistler’s Mother, this painting depicts a relatively simple scene of an aging woman sitting on a chair, her gaze fixed toward something that is out of view on the left side of the canvas.
There are many conflicting descriptions that art historians and critics have attributed as the purpose of this particular work, but none are said to be conclusive.
The painting shows the solemn expression of Whistler’s mother, dressed in all black, as if she is mourning the loss of someone very important in her life.
5. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I – Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt is one of the most prominent artists to have worked in a variety of different mediums over the course of his career with one singular focus on the female figure in some form or another.
His works were iconic during the beginning of the 20th century as European painters began to explore art styles that were moving towards what is now considered to be abstract art.
Also Read: Famous Paintings of Men
One of his famous works is known as Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. This 1907 painting features a woman enveloped in golden hues that appear as part of her dress, as well as the background of the work itself.
The painting was done during a phase that Klimt went through in which most of his works were done with heavy amounts of golden coloration and texture.
6. Woman with a Parasol – Madam Monet and her Son – Claude Monet
Claude Monet is widely considered to be among the most famous French Impressionist painters from the late 19th century when most of Europe was fascinated with various forms of what is now considered to be the Impressionist art movement. Some of his most notable works from this portion of his life feature his own family members.
Monet painted one of his most well-known artworks in 1875, dubbing it with the title Woman with a Parasol – Madam Monet and her Son.
Also Read: Famous Paintings of Mother and Child
This sunny scene features Monet’s own wife adorned in a flowing dress while holding an umbrella that is used to block the midday sun’s brightness.
Monet’s son, Jean, is seen standing in the background, looking towards the viewer, but it is the gaze of his wife, Camille, that is most captivating.
7. Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi – Eugène Delacroix
In the early 19th century, some European artists produced a variety of works that depicted various scenes from famous legends and stories that involved ancient Greek or Roman mythology.
French painter Eugène Delacroix was one such artist and many of his works featured scenes from the various historical events that shaped Europe into the powerful array of nations that it was during this time.
His painting titled Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi features a beautiful woman that is representative of the nation of Greece as she is in the midst of being overtaken by invaders from the Ottoman Empire in 1826, the same year this work was created.
The woman, despite her captivating beauty, is seen kneeling before her conquerors in defeat.
The background features an Ottoman commander staking claim to the Greek territory as he plants a flag into the ground and gazes out across the land.
8. Portrait of Dora Maar – Pablo Picasso
Of all the artists who are known to have focused heavily on the female form in all its beauty, few painters were more creative in their efforts than Spain’s own Pablo Picasso.
Many of his works were done in a somewhat abstract form that highlighted various parts of the female body in ways that had never really been done before.
Most of Picasso’s famous works featuring women were done of the female form in the nude, but one particular work depicts a clothed woman casually sitting in a chair as she gazes back toward the viewer’s direction.
This work is titled Portrait of Dora Maar and was done in 1937 during the height of Picasso’s bustling career.
Dora Maar is known as one of the most famous female artists in French history and Picasso’s depiction of her is truly one of his most widely recognized masterpieces.
9. Madame X– John Singer Sargent
Artists of the mid-1800’s were slowly being pulled into various forms of Impressionism or other styles of painting, but a few well-known painters were still focused on depicting their works in vivid realism.
John Singer Sargent was one of those painters who had a gift for portraying the female form in a hyper-realistic fashion that was stunningly realistic.
He created a series of works that focused on the female form in various poses and types of dress, but one of the best known is known as Madame X.
This painting was completed in 1884 and captures an unnamed woman (who was actually the wife of a prominent French banker) posed in a beautiful black gown.
At the time it was exhibited in the Paris Salon, the work was thought to be unfit for public view as the woman’s dress was deemed too revealing by many critics. However, it is still recognized as one of the lasting masterpieces that is among the most famous paintings of women ever done.
10. La Donna Velata – Raphael
The Renaissance period was a time when artists seemed to awaken various forms of creativity and delve into producing paintings, sculptures, literary works, and many more forms of art that are still considered to be among the most impressionable of any artwork ever created.
The Italian Renaissance painter known as Raphael was famous for his incredible ability to capture people and scenes with immense levels of realism in every minute detail.
Many art critics and historians consider his greatest portrait to be one titled La Donna Velata, which was created in 1516. The work features a brightly-lit woman, who is identified as Raphael’s mistress, shrouded in a beautiful, flowing dress that seems to highlight her natural features.
Her expression is said to be comparable to that of the Mona Lisa as it seems to draw the viewer in and captivate them with her gaze.
This work is easily one of the most famous paintings of women ever done and one that is considered to be among Raphael’s most notable paintings of his career.
What is the most famous painting of a woman? ›
Leonardo da Vinci - Mona Lisa, 1503 - 1505
Widely known for her mysterious smile and everlasting beauty, one of the most famous paintings of women ever made, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, represents a classical renaissance half-body portrait, set against a background of a distant landscape.
- Michelangelo (1475-1564) ...
- Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) ...
- Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) ...
- Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) ...
- Claude Monet (1840-1926) ...
- Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) ...
- Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) ...
- Jan van Eyck (1390-1441)
1652) Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi was the first female member of the prestigious Accademia de Arte del Disegno (Academy of Arts of Drawing) in 1616. Trained by her father and fellow artist, Orazio Gentileschi, she learned how to paint at a young age, according to Hall W.What is Linda Nochlin's definition of a great artist in her essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? ›
Nochlin says that the question “Why have there been no great women artists?” itself is “simply the top tenth of an iceberg of misinterpretation and misconception.” The actual issues relate to the ideas of “genius,” which mislead people into believing that greatness is begotten by genius, and so the reason that there ...Why is the Mona Lisa so famous? ›
The Mona Lisa is so famous because it's an oil painting in the style of realism by Renaissance icon, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was born in 1452 and grew up to be one of the best painters, architects, and inventors of the Renaissance era.Which artist painted the world famous Girl with a Pearl Earring? ›
Johannes Vermeer is one of the most famous Dutch painters of the 17th century. He is famous for his intimate household scenes with amazing light. In other paintings by Vermeer, such as the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring and View of Delft, he managed to create a calm, almost timeless atmosphere.Who is the best painter in the world 2022? ›
The most famous painter is Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), followed by Georg Baselitz (b. 1938) and Ed Ruscha (b. 1937).Who is the No 1 painting artist in the world? ›
1. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)Who is the most famous artist right now? ›
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Who is the first artist? ›
More than 65,000 years ago, a Neanderthal reached out and made strokes in red ochre on the wall of a cave, and in doing so, became the first known artist on Earth, scientists claim.What did Linda Nochlin try to prove? ›
Nochlin's essay explored how women artists were hobbled by institutional strictures and social prejudices: “The fault lies not in the stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education—education understood to include everything that happens to us from the ...Why is feminist art important? ›
The unifying goal of Feminist Art is to provide a place for female-centred representation and expose the erasure of women and their achievements in art and beyond. Feminist artists actively sought to stop Western art from simply reproducing gender barriers ingrained in society.Is Linda Nochlin a feminist? ›
In her 1994 essay "Starting from Scratch: The Beginnings of Feminist Art History," Nochlin reflected on her awakening as a feminist and its impact on her scholarship and teaching: "In 1969, three major events occurred in my life: I had a baby, I became a feminist, and I organized the first class in Women and Art at ...Who owns Mona Lisa? ›
The Mona Lisa hangs behind bulletproof glass in a gallery of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where it has been a part of the museum's collection since 1804. It was part of the royal collection before becoming the property of the French people during the Revolution (1787–99).Why is the Mona Lisa smiling? ›
Other research indicates that da Vinci may actually be trolling the viewer and that the "Mona Lisa" uses an optical illusion developed by da Vinci that's been dubbed the “uncatchable smile.” The illusion is that when looked at as a whole, the subject appears to be smiling.Who has the original Mona Lisa? ›
Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, is the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. This painting is painted as oil on wood. The original painting size is 77 x 53 cm (30 x 20 7/8 in) and is owned by the Government of France and is on the wall in the Louvre in Paris, France.How much is the girl with the pearl earring worth 2022? ›
Now, of course, it is priceless; the Mauritshuis would never sell it. In fact the last Vermeer to be publicly sold – in 2004 – went for $30 million, and it is nowhere near as good as Girl with a Pearl Earring.How much is Mona Lisa worth? ›
The Mona Lisa is believed to be worth more than $850 million, taking into account inflation. In 1962, it was insured for $100 million, holding the Guinness World Record for highest ever insurance value in the art market (corresponding to $870 million in 2021).Who is the biggest artist in the world 2022? ›
- Ed Sheeran. With more than 52 million subscribers on YouTube, Ed Sheeran stands the number one in the list of most popular singers worldwide.
- Billie Eilish. ...
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- Taylor Swift. ...
- Adele. ...
- Lady Gaga. ...
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- Shawn Mendes. ...
Who is the youngest artist 2022? ›
- OIivia Rodrigo won Best New Artist at the 2022 Grammy Awards.
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Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 - 1519)
Leonardo da Vinci is probably the most important Renaissance artist. Da Vinci is widely recognized as the most famous and influential artist of all time.
1. Adele: Adele is an English singer-songwriter who has sold over 120 million records worldwide. She topped the UK top-five singles chart with her songs 'Chasing Pavements' and 'Make You Feel My Love' from her debut album, '19'.Who is the biggest female pop star in the world 2021? ›
Taylor Swift tops the year-end tally for the first time ever, previously landing as high as #2 in both 2017 and 2020. Taylor has ranked top 5 among female artists in each year since returning to the service in 2017. Ariana Grande moves up one spot to #2, tying her best rank since 2019.Who is the best woman singer in the world? ›
1: Aretha Franklin
Topping our list of the best female singers of all time, Aretha Franklin also stands as the most-charting female singer in history.
|Rank||Female Artist||Net Worth|
|1||Olivia Rodrigo||$5 Million|
|2||Taylor Swift||$400 Million|
|3||Ariana Grande||$200 Million|
|4||Doja Cat||$8 Million|
Virgin Mary, 1st-century BC–1st-century AD. The mother of Jesus, Mary is venerated by both Christians and Muslims, and is probably the most famous woman in history.Who are some famous female singers? ›
- Whitney Houston.
- Aretha Franklin.
- Dolly Parton.
- Tina Turner.
- Taylor Swift.
1. Laura Wheeler Waring. What is this? Among the greatest black female artists of the 20th century, few are as well-known as Laura Wheeler Waring.Who is the most famous Indian female painter? ›
No conversation on Indian Modern Art is complete without the mention of Amrita Shergil. The nation's most celebrated woman artist, she is popularly referred to as India's Frida Kahlo.
Who painted three girls? ›How old is art? ›
Art, as those early archaeologists imagined it, came out of a creative revolution coinciding with the earliest European cave paintings, dated to about 30,000 years ago at their oldest in Chauvet, France.Who made the first painting? ›
The first painting was made by primitive men, believed to have been made by Homo Neanderthalis in the prehistoric era. Archaeological excavations carried out in Europe, Africa and Asia reveal that primitive men were the first painters and sculptors and demonstrated through these arts their daily lives.Who was the father of art? ›
By Stephanie Bastek | January 8, 2021. Giorgio Vasari has been variously called the father of art history, the inventor of artistic biography, and the author of “the Bible of the Italian Renaissance”—a little book called The Lives of the Artists.What is feminist theory in art? ›
Art that seeks to challenge the dominance of men in both art and society, to gain recognition and equality for women artists, and question assumptions about womanhood.What is the imaginary Orient? ›
The Imaginary Orient. A recent exhibition and catalogue of 19th-century French Orientalist painting raised questions other than the usual art-historical ones-political questions concerning the links between realism and power, violence and the picturesque. BY LINDA NOCHLIN.What is the Morellian technique? ›
The Morellian method is based on clues offered by trifling details rather than identities of composition and subject matter or other broad treatments that are more likely to be seized upon by students, copyists and imitators.Who started Feminist Art? ›
Its origins can be traced back to the 1960s and the 2nd wave of feminism. Feminist art was inspired by the works of proto-feminist artists like Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois, whose pieces focused on topics of domesticity, the female body and the life of women.Which type of art was considered women's work? ›
Throughout the history of art, decoration and domestic handicrafts have been regarded as women's work, and as such, not considered “high” or fine art. Quilting, embroidery, needlework, china painting, and sewing—none of these have been deemed worthy artistic equivalents to the grand mediums of painting and sculpture.What is the symbol of feminism? ›
The clenched, raised fist combined with a Venus symbol represents Feminism. It is an iconic symbol of the women's liberation movement.
What exhibitions did nochlin curate? ›
As a curator, Nochlin co-organized such exhibitions as “Women Artists: 1550–1950” (1976) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and “Global Feminisms” (2007) at the Brooklyn Museum, landmark surveys that cemented the place of feminist politics in top-tier institutions.Why are women's bodies used in art? ›
In performance art, a term coined in the early 1960s as the genre was starting to take hold, the actions an artist performs are central to the work of art. For many artists, using their bodies in performances became a way to both claim control over their own bodies and to question issues of gender.Who painted the world famous painting Mona Lisa? ›
Mona Lisa, also called Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, Italian La Gioconda, or French La Joconde, oil painting on a poplar wood panel by Leonardo da Vinci, probably the world's most famous painting.Who painted the Birth of Venus? ›
Sandro Botticelli1483 - 1485
The painting was commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de'Medici, a cousin of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The theme was probably suggested by the humanist Poliziano.
Girl with a Pearl Earring, oil painting on canvas (c. 1665) by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, one of his most well-known works. It depicts an imaginary young woman in exotic dress and a very large pearl earring. The work permanently resides in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague.What does a woman symbolize in art? ›
Women are the Symbol of Life. The Maker of Unconditional Love. A woman is both Soft and Powerful.What does body art mean? ›
Definition of body art
: art that uses the human body as a medium … body art is just what its name implies: an art form in which the artist's body is the medium rather than the more conventional wood, stone, or paint on canvas.—
HOW TO DRAW BODIES | Drawing Tutorial - YouTubeWho is a very famous painter? ›
One of the most famous painters in the world, Pablo Picasso was born in Spain yet lived most of his life in France. A talented ceramicist, printmaker, theater designer and sculptor as well as a painter, Picasso has had a lasting impact on modern art.
It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic. It has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797. The Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world.
How much is Mona Lisa worth? ›
The Mona Lisa is believed to be worth more than $850 million, taking into account inflation. In 1962, it was insured for $100 million, holding the Guinness World Record for highest ever insurance value in the art market (corresponding to $870 million in 2021).Who painted the Sistine Chapel? ›
2. Contrary to popular belief, Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in a standing position. When they picture Michelangelo creating his legendary frescoes, most people assume he was lying down.Who painted Aphrodite? ›
The group choice for Aphrodite is “ The Birth of Venus” which is a painting by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli in about the mid 1480s, and it is stored in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.When was the Mona Lisa painted? ›
Leonardo da Vinci did start painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in the Italian city, but in 1516 he was invited by King François I to work in France, and scholars believe he finished the painting there, and there it has remained.Why is The Girl With the Pearl Earring so famous? ›
The painting has captivated so many people throughout history, drawing unprecedented crowds to The Mauritshuis, the art museum in The Hague, Netherlands where it is now housed. It became iconic for the distinct position of the girl, her enigmatic gaze, the colors and the delicate quality of the light.How much is the girl with the pearl earring worth 2022? ›
Now, of course, it is priceless; the Mauritshuis would never sell it. In fact the last Vermeer to be publicly sold – in 2004 – went for $30 million, and it is nowhere near as good as Girl with a Pearl Earring.What does Girl with a Pearl Earring symbolize? ›
And to me, in this specific painting, the girl with the pearl earring as an icon, is purely an image, and as an index, her expression and her earring becomes the sign of innocence and purity, deep to symbolic meaning, the painting shows timeless peace and mystery to be argue for its audience.