The Five Most Famous Paintings on the Planet

5. The Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli

The Birth of Venus was created around 1485–87 and depicts the goddess Venus emerging from the sea as told in a myth that explains her birth. The patron who commissioned the painting is still a mystery, but some say that Lorenzo de’ Medici was the commissioner and that he wanted to hang it at the Villa of Castello. Today, the painting lives in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

4. The Night Watch – Rembrandt van Rijn

This is one of the most famous works to come from the Dutch Golden Age. The Night Watch is perhaps the most famous painting by Rembrandt van Rijn. It shows a city watchmen being led out by his captain and lieutenant. For many years, the painting was coated in dark varnish, which gave the impression that the painting was of a night scene. In the 1940s, the varnish was removed and the painting can today be seen at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

3. The Scream – Edvard Munch

Everyone knows “The Scream”—a figure in agony against a red sky. Edvard Munch did several different versions of “The Scream,” but the most famous one was painting in 1893 and hangs at “The National Gallery of Norway.” It was stolen in 1994 but recovered several months later.

2. The Starry Night – Vincent van Gogh

Although not commonly known, Van Gogh only sold one painting during his life, yet his legacy to the art world even today remains as one of the most outstanding. Starry Night, however, is his most famous painting and has become a very famous part of popular culture. The painting depicts the village of Saint-Remy under a swirling sky in a view from the asylum. Since the early 1940s, the painting has been on show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

1. The Mona Lisa – Leonard da Vinci

Who doesn’t know “The Mona Lisa?” Leonardo da Vinci painted the most famous painting in the 
world during the Renaissance in Florence. He started the painting in 1503 and only finished it shortly before he died in 1519. The painting was stolen in 1911, and for two years it was hidden in the apartment of Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia. When he tried to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, he was caught and the painting was returned to the Louvre. 

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