10 Greatest Works of Art of All Time. Biography

This is a personal selection of the ten greatest works of all time. It reflects my own preferences, but if you wish to nominate another work of art, please leave a comment below.

1. Pieta – Michelangelo

Michelangelo’s Pieta – The magnificent depiction of Mother Mary holding her crucified son, Jesus Christ. Beauty, elegance – restrained yet intense emotion. It is a poignant, beautiful and awe inspiring. It is both symbolic of divinity’s sacrifice for humanity, and also the epitome of a mother’s love for her beloved son.

2. Mona Lisa – Leonardo Da Vinci

The enigmatic smile of Mona Lisa has captured the imagination of the world. The Mona Lisa gives a glimpse of immortality in an anonymous lady. Leonardo Da Vinci spent a lifetime on this painting; he carried it around for many years – always working and perfecting it. Why has the Mona Lisa captured the imagination of humanity? – Because there is something in the painting that transcends the ordinary human consciousness – there is beauty and simplicity, but also the unknowing smile of the Beyond.

3. David – Michelangelo

The statue of David is a sublime depiction of the human form. Michelangelo transcended the great classic masters of the past with this flawless sculpture. David shows that man has a beautiful symmetry combining beauty, grace and power.

4. Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

Michelangelo‘s four-year epic. Unsurpassed in scale and greatness that leaves visitors breathless. The Pope who commissioned Michelangelo hoped that he would choose scenes from the New Testament, but Michelangelo chose scenes from the Old Testament. Here God is creating Adam – capturing that elusive touch between man and God.

5. Cafe Terrace at Night – Vincent Van Gogh

The genius of Vincent Van Gogh is captured in this atmospheric portrayal of French cafe life at night.

6. Ecstasy of St Therese – Bernini

The Ecstasy of St Therese of Avila – by Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, Italy. St Therese of Avila was a Spanish mystic who was far ahead of her time and would often become absorbed in Divine contemplation.

7. Water Lilies – Claude Monet

Claude Monet is one of the great impressionist painters. Quite a few of his pictures could have been chosen. But, his water lily paintings are perhaps the zenith of his artistic impressionism. A sublime elucidation of light and nature. A glimpse of Heaven on earth. Art that inspired the world.

8. Inspiration of St Matthew – Caravaggio

Caravaggio was commissioned to provide three paintings for the Contarelli Chapel in the church of San Luigi Dei Francesi. This ‘Inspiration of Matthew’ is one of the three paintings. The other two being the martyrdom of St Matthew and the calling of St Matthew.

9. The Girl With a Pearl Earring – Jan Vermeer

Jan Vermeer was relatively unknown in his lifetime. But, this fascinating portrait (somewhat reminiscent of the Mona Lisa) is a beautiful example of the Baroque style. There is a touching innocence, purity and simplicity in this picture. It is said the eyes are a window to the soul. These bulging pure eyes give a glimpse of that purity and innocence of a girl on the verge of womanhood.

The identity of the Jewish Bride is uncertain. This may have been deliberate on the part of the artist, who created a masterpiece of human love that borders on the divine. There is so much emotion, detail and care taken with these human expressions. There is a whole world within the painting.

Described by Christopher White as

“one of the greatest expressions of the tender fusion of spiritual and physical love in the history of painting”

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Ten Greatest Works of Art,” Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net. Published 18 November 2008. Last updated 8 February 2018.

Greatest Works of Art

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