Which are the five most famous paintings of all time? There are more than five contenders for this, of course, but some have developed a fame of their own, and have become part of our everyday lives.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, painted in the early 1500s, hangs in the Louvre. She is visited by millions every year, but her gaze extends beyond the gallery to mock us from all manner of merchandise, including pictures of cats in the same pose. She has been parodied, sung about, and even animated by Terry Gilliam in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
The Last Supper, a late fifteenth century mural for a Milanese convent by the same artist, has been reinterpretated by many, including Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol, and referenced in films such as Robert Altman’s MASH and Bunuel’s Viridiana.
In Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, God bestows life on Adam as their fingers strain to touch. His fresco of 1511-12 in the Sistine Chapel is one of the most copied paintings ever, along with The Last Supper.
Images of The Scream by Edvard Munch also grace many items and there is even a pub chain named after it, mainly aimed at students. As a further claim to fame, or infamy, there have been several thefts over the years…luckily for art lovers, Munch produced more than one version between 1893 and 1910.
The last of the five to be put forward has to be Andy Warhol’s silkscreen painting of Marilyn Monroe, completed after her death in 1962 using a publicity shot from the 1953 film Niagara. Like similar work by Warhol, it’s been copied, imitated and reproduced many times, and has been the inspiration for artists such as Damien Hirst.
Disproving Warhol’s claim that everyone would be world famous for fifteen minutes, then, these will be famous paintings for all time.