11 Most Famous Oil Painters - Artst (2022)

Oil-based paints were used by some of the most prominent artists in history. Historians have uncovered evidence that oil-based paints were used as early as the 7th century, but they wouldn’t become prevalent throughout the known world until much later in the 1400’s.

Using oil painting methods, artists were able to produce works that were of much higher quality than before.

Oil-based paints were usually made from mixing dried powder pigments with linseed oil. The artists during the 15th century were able to create an oil-based paint that was very much like paste in consistency.

This new method of producing paint allowed many artists to fuse different pigments together to create highly specific tones, as well as create crisp lines, translucent material, and a new level of realism as it related to light and darkness.

Many of the most famous artists in the world were known as masters of oil-based paint and the delicate process that comes with getting their paint to just the right consistency. Here are 10 of the most famous oil painters in history.

1. Leonardo da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci may very well be the most famous artist in human history. He is the quintessential ‘Renaissance man’ as he was known to be a prolific philosopher and inventor, as well as an incredibly gifted artist.

Da Vinci was one of the earliest known masters of oil-based painting and many of his most famous works are still considered to be among the greatest paintings in history.

He was known to experiment with oil painting on various surfaces and one of his most famous works, The Last Supper, was done on two layers of preparatory ground material which sadly began to disintegrate shortly after it was finished.

Throughout his career, he worked to perfect the type of surface he would paint on, as well as the right kind of oil-based paint he needed to create his works, most of which were painted in the early 1500’s.

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In most of his famous masterpieces, da Vinci used his own handmade oil-based paints on a variety of different surfaces that ranged from wet plaster to dry stone wall.

The oil pigments that he created were responsible for his production of such works as the Mona Lisa, Virgin of the Rocks, and many others.

2. MichelangeloBuonarotti

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Among the most famous artists of all time, Michelangelo Buonarotti is arguably the most talented to ever live. A painter during the Renaissance era, Michelangelo is best known for his paintings that cover the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel and other notable religious structures of his day.

He and other painters from the Renaissance period discovered that one could utilize the natural luminosity and plasticity of oil colors to achieve an entirely new level of realism.

Michelangelo is believed by art historians and scholars to have worked to create his own pigments from various oil-based concoctions as most of the notable artists from the Renaissance did.

His painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one that has lasted throughout many centuries in remarkably-well condition thanks to the quality of the paints he used.

Art historians record that Michelangelo painted on a specialized scaffold instead of lying on his back as some might assume. He later lamented his aching back after several months of work on the ceiling, even writing a poem about it.

Through the use of oil-based paints, Michelangelo managed to produce artwork that was highly realistic and possessed a much deeper sense of perspective than almost any other painter had done before him.

3. Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is perhaps most famous for being an artist that was tormented with serious mental illness which eventually led to him cutting off his own ear in a manic state.

While his works are celebrated as some of the most vibrant paintings ever created, many casual art observers rarely give a second thought as to the type of paint he used to create these masterpieces.

He is known to have utilized oil paint that was created through the use of natural pigments in the same way so many artists before him had done. These natural pigments were also mixed with a newer synthetic material that was actually being developed at the time for the textile industry.

Among his most famous paintings, Starry Night is perhaps the most recognizable among art observers of any level. He reached a stage of his life in 1889 when he produced a large number of nature paintings that mainly focused on flowers and plant life.

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He created a work titled Irises that year, and would go on to paint many other notable works before his tragic death just one year later.

4. Johannes Vermeer

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Few artists had such a wide range of depth in their color palette as Johannes Vermeer. He is known as one of the most famous Dutch artists in history and many of his works were done in the mid-1600’s. Vermeer is known to have used a wide variety of oil paints at his disposal, including some of the most expensive pigments of the 17th century.

Vermeer is known to have used a special pigment called ultramarine which was a highly expensive blue pigment extracted from minerals derived from lapis lazuli, which could only be found in Afghanistan.

He also employed a wide range of other extremely rare pigments to create his works—many of which are celebrated for their intense coloration.

His most famous work is titled Girl with a Pearl Earring. This painting, and many others like it from the Baroque movement, are hailed as one of the most striking works in history for the intense level of realism in every facet of the painting.

5. Rembrandt van Rijn

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The Baroque period produced some of the most famous artists in history, including the Dutch master artist Rembrandt van Rijn.

He is known to have meticulously painted each of his works using specially handmade pigments that were the secret to his ability to paint in a way that was strikingly three-dimensional.

Rembrandt utilized a technique known as impasto, which involves the use of very thick paints that often protrude out from the painting’s canvas.

Scientists have concluded that Rembrandt was able to create his captivating images using a very thick, heavy paint that was actually synthesized with a lead-based material. This gave the painter’s pigments a somewhat lifelike appearance in many ways.

Some of Rembrandt’s most famous works include The Night Watch, which was done in 1642, as well as The Return of the Prodigal Son and many other works that were based on Judeo-Christian themes.

6. Claude Monet

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Claude Monet is widely known as one of the founding fathers of the Impressionist movement, which took place during the 19th century. Monet is known to have been a firm believer in the power of painting ‘en plein air’ which simply means, ‘outdoors.’

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Monet is one of the most unique artists as he would routinely work on multiple canvases of the same scene. Which one he choose to work on would depend entirely on the prevailing light conditions.

The most famous of all the French Impressionists he was also one of the most successful and made a decent living from his art unlike some of his contemporaries.

Unlike other artists who used a palette, Monet’s insistence on painting outdoors in one sitting required him to mix his own oil-based pigments on the canvas as he worked.

Some of Monet’s paintings of note are Impression, Sunrise (1872) and Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son (1875).

7. Pablo Picasso

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Born in 1881, Pablo Picasso was an artist that would truly transform the world of painting during his lifetime. He dabbled in a number of art styles including Surrealism, Cubism, and Expressionism and became known as an artist who remained true to his own sense of expression rather than attempting to match other painters from his day.

In order to get the sharp, linear figures many of his works were known for, Picasso used a specialized oil-based paint material that was infused with a type of enamel.

While exploring many different means of expression during his ‘High Cubism’ phase, Picasso actually mixed coffee grounds, sand, ash, and other materials with his paint for various reasons.

He is best known for his works in Cubism, among them are his painting titled Guernica (1937) and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907).

8. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

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The Baroque period was a time in which artists explored the many different ways one could use light and dark on the canvas.

None were able to match the masterful efforts of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio when it came to producing a strikingly beautiful contrast between light and dark, which also represented good and evil in many ways.

Unlike the legendary artists that came just a century before him, Caravaggio did not use frescos to paint his masterpieces. Rather, he was known to use pigments that were created using ground oils on linen canvas. Caravaggio was truly gifted in his ability to produce paintings that had impressive elements of realism.

He is famously known for his paintings that include The Calling of St Matthew (1600), Bacchus (1596), and Judith Beheading Holofernes (1599).

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9. Diego Velázquez

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Diego Velázquez is widely considered the most famous Spanish artist from the Baroque era. He enjoyed high amounts of prestige during his lifetime, serving in such roles as the official painter for King Phillip IV.

Velázquez garnered high amounts of praise from notable art critics and enthusiasts during his lifetime for his peculiar style which is referred to as chiaroscuro, or the high levels of contrast between light and dark in a work.

Being part of the royal court, Velázquez had some of the most rare and expensive oil-based pigments in the world at his disposal during his career. He used these colors to create a range of masterful works that include Las Meninas (1606) and The Surrender of Breda (1635).

His painting style was very distinct, often containing many fluid, sweeping brush strokes that produced a photorealistic appearance.

10. Salvador Dalí

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Among the most peculiar artists in history, Salvador Dalí is celebrated as one of the most creative and unique among a vast array of other artists from the somewhat modern art movements of Surrealism and Cubism.

Many of his most notable works were done in the mid-20th century and are known for their illusory and bizarre images.

Many of Dalí’s most iconic works feature misshapen or melting figures that seem to have a liquid quality about them. Many art historians and critics believe he was able to achieve this appearance using oil-based paint that was mixed with generous amounts of natural resin.

This produced a more liquid-like paint that could be applied to the canvas with greater control as Dalí used a smaller brush.

He is most well-known for his Surrealist paintings like The Persistence of Memory (1931) and Swans Reflecting Elephants (1937). He also created many other iconic works that are considered some of the greatest masterpieces of the modern era.

11. Paul Cézanne

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Paul Cézanne was a French post-impressionist painter whose works contributed to modern art’s aesthetic and stylistic transformations. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, he bridged the gap between impressionism and the burgeoning creative tendencies of the twentieth century, notably cubism.

Picasso and Matisse considered him to be the forefather of their later movements. Cézanne’s paintings have several recurring brushstrokes that are easily recognizable. Smaller brushstrokes combine to form intricate artwork with numerous color planes.

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Cézanne mostly worked from his Aix studio, where he regularly welcomed guests. Despite his significance in modern art, Cézanne’s paintings were often rejected by contemporary critics.

Despite the scorn shown to his works by older authorities, a new generation of painters saw Cézanne as a genius. Cézanne was also influential in the development of expressionism and Fauvism, which both relied on his post-impressionist methods.

FAQs

Who is the most famous oil painter? ›

Here are seven of the most popular oil painters and their works:
  • Leonardo da Vinci. Of course, Leonardo da Vinci did countless things during his lifetime. ...
  • Michelangelo. ...
  • Salvador Dali. ...
  • Edvard Munch. ...
  • Rembrandt van Rijn. ...
  • Johannes Vermeer. ...
  • Pablo Picasso. ...
  • Oil Painting Persists In Popularity As Time Goes On.
20 May 2018

Who is World No 1 painter? ›

Leonardo da Vinci, probably the most important Renaissance artist, is widely recognized as the most famous artist of all time. He's the genius behind the iconic Mona Lisa painting masterpiece, after all.

Who is famous for oil painting? ›

The master artist Leonardo Da Vinci is renowned for painting the Mona Lisa, one of the most iconic images in the world.
...
Mona Lisa (1506) by Leonardo Da Vinci.
ArtistLeonardo Da Vinci
Date Created1506
Medium UsedOil on Canvas
Dimensions of artwork77 cm x 53 cm
Current LocationThe Louvre Museum, Paris
8 Dec 2021

Who is the best painter in the world 2022? ›

The richest painters in 2022 are led by John Currin

It is a stark contrast to the contemporary fashion and scenery in the pictures. Three of his most famous works are Hot Pants, Honeymoon Nude, and Nude on a Table. Painting is quite possibly the most beautiful expression on the planet.

Who is the most famous painter today? ›

Gerhard Richter is at the very top of our list – the most famous living painter today. Born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany, Richter currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany.

Who is the most famous painter in 2021? ›

Artists to Watch | 2021
  • Banksy. Demand for Banksy work shows no sign of abating. ...
  • Tracey Emin. ...
  • Tim Fishlock. ...
  • Nancy Fouts. ...
  • Patrick Hughes. ...
  • KAWS. ...
  • Delphine Lebourgeois. ...
  • Harland Miller.
3 Jan 2021

Who is the biggest artist in the world 2022? ›

So, here is a list of the Top 10 most popular singers of 2022.
  1. Ed Sheeran. With more than 52 million subscribers on YouTube, Ed Sheeran stands the number one in the list of most popular singers worldwide.
  2. Billie Eilish. ...
  3. Ariana Grande. ...
  4. Taylor Swift. ...
  5. Adele. ...
  6. Lady Gaga. ...
  7. Justin Bieber. ...
  8. Shawn Mendes. ...

Who is the richest painter alive? ›

Damien Hirst – Net Worth $1 Billion

Damien Hirst is an English artist, art collector, and entrepreneur, grossing the highest net worth of $ 1 billion and making him the current richest artist.

What is the highest paid painting job? ›

High Paying Painter Jobs
  • Interior Painter. ...
  • Paint Specialist. ...
  • Finish Painter. ...
  • Painter Apprentice. ...
  • Painter Helper. Salary range: $27,000-$35,500 per year. ...
  • Paint Prepper. Salary range: $27,000-$35,000 per year. ...
  • Metal Painter. Salary range: $26,000-$35,000 per year. ...
  • Painter Assistant. Salary range: $25,000-$33,500 per year.

Who are some most famous painters? ›

101 famous painters you should know!
  • Picasso. PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) ...
  • Giotto. GIOTTO DI BONDONE (c.1267-1337) ...
  • Leonardo. LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519) ...
  • Cézanne. PAUL CÉZANNE (1839-1906) ...
  • Rembrandt. REMBRANDT VAN RIJN (1606-1669) ...
  • Velázquez. DIEGO VELÁZQUEZ (1599-1660) ...
  • Kandinsky. WASSILY KANDINSKY (1866-1944) ...
  • Monet.

What is the number 1 famous painting? ›

Mona Lisa, Paris

It is no surprise that the number one painting on our list is the famous Mona Lisa. The enigmatic painting of the smiling woman painted by the greatest Leonardo da Vinci dates back to 1503 to 15019.

Who are the top 10 visual artist of all time? ›

Top 12 Greatest Visual Artists of All Time
  1. Michelangelo (1475-1564) ...
  2. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) ...
  3. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) ...
  4. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) ...
  5. Claude Monet (1840-1926) ...
  6. Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) ...
  7. Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) ...
  8. Jan van Eyck (1390-1441)
24 May 2019

Who are the best oil painters in the world? ›

Famous Oil Painters
  • Vincent Van Gogh.
  • Johannes Vermeer.
  • Rembrandt van Rijn.
  • Claude Monet.
  • Pablo Picasso.
  • Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
  • Diego Velázquez.
  • Salvador Dalí

Who made the largest oil painting in the world? ›

The largest professional oil painting by a single artist is 166.03 m² (1,787.13 ft²) and was achieved by Sarans K K (India) in Abudhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 25 November 2021. The finished painting was exhibited in the India social and cultural centre.

What is the oldest oil painting in the world? ›

The earliest known surviving oil paintings are Buddhist murals created circa 650AD in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Bamiyan is an historic settlement along the silk road and is famous for the Bamiyan Buddhas, a series of giant statues, behind which rooms and tunnels are carved from the rock.

Who are current famous artists? ›

Contemporary art

Who is now seen as one of the most important artists of the 20th century? ›

Pablo Picasso is considered by many to be the greatest artist of the twentieth century, and – in fact – one of the greatest of all time. The Spanish artist is world-famous for helping found the cubist art movement. This style was able to inject various different perspectives into one, two-dimensional painting.

Who is the richest painter in the world 2021? ›

Damien Hirst and Arno Gasquet (Net Worth: $1 Billion)

Damien and Arno have been in the industry for years, whenever you will search for the richest living painters, their names will be on the top of that list.

Who is the richest painting artist? ›

1. John Currin. John Currin is currently the richest painter in the world, with an estimated worth of a whopping $1.4 billion thanks to his unique and sought-after painting style.

What is the biggest selling song of all time? ›

According to Guinness World Records, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (1942) as performed by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies.

Who is the best-selling solo artist of all time? ›

The 10 Best-Selling Solo Music Artists of all Time
  1. Elvis Presley. ~ 1.5 billion units sold. ...
  2. Michael Jackson. ~ 1.0 billion units sold. ...
  3. Madonna. ~ 340 million units sold. ...
  4. Elton John. ~ 305 million units sold. ...
  5. Rihanna. Photo credit: EJ Hersom. ...
  6. Eminem. ~ 227 million units sold. ...
  7. Taylor Swift. ...
  8. Whitney Houston.
25 Aug 2022

Who is the best-selling solo artist of all time 2021? ›

The King of Pop is officially the Best Selling Solo Artist of All Time!
...
Michael Jackson is now the Greatest Solo Selling Artist of All Time!
ARTISTU2
STUDIO ALBUMS SALES127,100,000
OTHER LPS SALES53,051,000
PHYSICAL SINGLES SALES22,550,000
DIGITAL SINGLES SALES40,500,000
9 more columns
27 Jun 2021

Is Mona Lisa an oil painting? ›

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 made the largest oil painting in the world? ›

The largest professional oil painting by a single artist is 166.03 m² (1,787.13 ft²) and was achieved by Sarans K K (India) in Abudhabi, United Arab Emirates, on 25 November 2021. The finished painting was exhibited in the India social and cultural centre.

Who was the founder of oil painting? ›

During the 15th century, Jan van Eyck, a famous Belgian painter developed oil painting by mixing linseed oil and oil from nuts with diverse colors. Some English artists too made use of oils, and first advocated the oil painting technique.

Is Starry Night an oil painting? ›

The Starry Night is an oil-on-canvas painting by the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. Painted in June 1889, it depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an imaginary village.

Can you buy the Mona Lisa? ›

Truly priceless, the painting cannot be bought or sold according to French heritage law. As part of the Louvre collection, "Mona Lisa" belongs to the public, and by popular agreement, their hearts belong to her.

Are there 2 Mona Lisa's? ›

Actually, there's at least four different versions painted by Leonardo da Vinci and his students. But the one we all know and love is at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The others can be found at the Prado Museum and in numerous private collections.

How much is the Mona Lisa worth 2022? ›

Marca reports that as per Stéphane Distinguin, the CEO of the technology company Fabernovel, the Mona Lisa would be sold for nothing less than €50,000 million in 2022. In dollars, that's $53,729,008.08. However, another conflicting report claims that back in 1962, the painting's price was assessed at $100 million.

How can you tell an original oil painting? ›

Look closely at the surface of the artwork. As prints, oleographs have no texture, and so if it looks as though the artwork has raised brush strokes, and perhaps areas of impasto, that's a good sign that you have an oil painting. A print would not be able to replicate any dimensionality to a painting.

What is the oldest oil painting in the world? ›

The earliest known surviving oil paintings are Buddhist murals created circa 650AD in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Bamiyan is an historic settlement along the silk road and is famous for the Bamiyan Buddhas, a series of giant statues, behind which rooms and tunnels are carved from the rock.

When was oil painting most popular? ›

According to historians, oil painting was first used in Asia in the 5th and 5th centuries, but it would later become the most popular style of painting in the 1500's, especially throughout the Renaissance.

Which oil is best for oil painting? ›

So, Linseed Oil is the best Oil, it outperforms all other oils. It has a tendency to yellow, however, compared to other Oils' disadvantages, this could be more or less manageable. When you use Linseed Oil, there is less cracking of the paint layers than there is when you use Poppy and Walnut Oils.

Who painted the scream? ›

The National Museum in Oslo holds one of the world's most important collections of paintings by Edvard Munch, including such iconic works as "The Scream". These works are available for the public in The National Museum.

What would the Mona Lisa sell for? ›

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).

Can I buy the real starry night? ›

You can own a museum-quality handmade art reproduction of "The Starry Night" by artist Vincent van Gogh in 1889. The oil painting will be reproduced on artist-level linen canvas by an expert painter. You can select from multiple sizing options and top quality frames. It is fully customizable.

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