Looking for some culture but not sure where to start? Here are 10 of some of the world’s best artworks to inspire you.
1. The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli
While the majority of Renaissance art commissions were of a religious nature, the subject of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus is pagan. Inspired by a humanist approach, the painting pays tribute to ancient myths. The beauty and the modest sensuality of Venus as she emerges out of the water has not only become emblematic of the Renaissance period but also symbolic of the city of Florence itself. Be enchanted by the curves of the goddess of love and contemplate it with your own eyes at the Uffizi Gallery.
2. The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci
Milan is home to Leonardo’s undisputed Renaissance masterpiece that also happens to be one of the world’s most famous paintings. Unlike The Birth of Venus, The Last Supper is a perfect example of Christian Renaissance art and the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Give yourself the privilege of admiring this iconic work that will make you feel like you are sitting around the table with Jesus and his apostles, and read up on the enigmatic painting’s mysteries.
3. The Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci
The Mona Lisa, without a doubt the world’s most famous portrait, can be found at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Her mysterious smile will most certainly fascinate you, as will the painting’s excellent composition, which served as an inspirational point of reference for many artists belonging to various schools and eras.
4. The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo
The Sistine Chapel, a veritable Renaissance jewel, is a must-see when in Rome. Some of the most famous Italian artists have left their mark on the walls of this magnificently frescoed chapel inside the inside the Vatican Museums, we owe the famous ceiling with The Creation of Adam centerpiece to Michelangelo. Marvel at the beauty of the chapel’s sumptuous frescoes and immerse yourself in the heart of the Vatican Museum’s wonderful treasures.
5. Wheat Field with Crows , Van Gogh
Wheat Field with Crows is one of Van Gogh’s last paintings and could be considered a harbinger of the artist’s tragic end. Through this work, you can grasp Van Gogh’s tormented, and almost delirious psychological character. A juxtaposition of painted layers comprise the dark, terrifying sky, and the flight of crows, whose ominous symbolism is well known, create an agonizing atmosphere. Visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to admire this painting and capture all the genius of Van Gogh who, ironically, was incredibly brilliant at giving life to an absolutely banal scene, especially through the movement and rhythm of his brush strokes.
6. Madame X, John Singer Sargent
Once again, New York! At the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka “The Met”), you can drop in on Madame Gautreau, a young American girl so beautiful that John Singer Sargent did everything he could to have the privilege of painting her. At that time, the subject’s bare shoulders created were considered quite scandalous. Today Madame X is one of the MET’s most popular artworks.
7. The Persistence of Memory, Dalì
At the MoMA in New York, you’ll be able to see Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory (commonly known as “soft watches”), a strange and intriguing painting. This iconic surrealist work evokes the inevitable reality of passing time and death. Dalì represents a once-real world in a Catalonia landscape that appears imaginary through its dreamlike character, a true representation of surrealism universe that is undoubtedly the most replicated.
8. The Milkmaid, Johannes Vermeer
The Milkmaid is kept at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and is a youthful work of Vermeer. Due to the movie, The Girl with the Pearl Earring it is one of her two most famous paintings in the world. In France, everyone has already met this maternal figure, generous and comforting several times in his life. And for good reason! The dairy is the logo that has been chosen by the Nestlé brand for 40 years.
9. Les Nymphéas (Water Lilies), Monet
Les Nymphéas is undoubtedly the most emblematic masterpiece of Monet’s career and the culmination of his work as an impressionist artist. This monumental painting unfolds panoramically, extending almost 100-meters / 325-feet long. This series of 250 paintings is inspired by Monet’s very own water garden, and when placed side-by-side, creating an ambiance that is both calming and peaceful, an opposition to the violence of war at the time, as Monet began Les Nymphéas during the First World War. See it for yourself at the Orangerie Museum in Paris.
10. Guernica, Picasso
This painting is very important for both art and world history. Thanks to the immediacy of its message and the effectiveness of its symbols, this Cubist masterpiece imposes itself as a weapon against war and the horror of human conflicts. Guernica was born as a reaction to the horror of the Spanish Civil War, and since there is no explicit reference to the Basque city of Guernica in the painting, the message that travels becomes universal and timeless. Visit the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid to capture its intensity firsthand.
Cover Photo credit: The Other Pete via VisualHunt.com / CC BY