Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Famous Paintings of Women: 8 Revolutionary Ones

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Wondering about the eras and creative hands which created the most ineffable paintings? Are you curious about the most famous paintings of women, and what is the inspiration for painting them? Do you want to know what makes these awe-striking paintings famous? What do the paintings depict in actuality?

Here are a few facts about the 8 most famous paintings of women; keep reading on to know more.

1. Famous Paintings of Women: Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

Famous paintings of women
Mona Lisa

We all are familiar with this ethereal Renaissance painting created by Leonardo Da Vinci, but here are a few facts that you might not know-

  1. Mona Lisa is commonly believed to be Lisa Gherardini, whose husband Francesco commissioned this painting in Florence, Italy, in 1503.
  2. It might come as a shock, but this is unfinished work.
  3. Around 1800, one French Emperor had this painting hanging in his bedroom at Tuileries Palace for four years. His fascination for this painting made him affectionate towards  Teresa Guadagni, a descendant of Lisa Gherardini.
  4. Mona Lisa measures 30 inches by 21 inches, and the weight of this painting is 18 pounds.
  5. No eyebrows: Some assume that it is a representation of the high-class fashion of that period. Some suggest it is proof that this is an unfinished piece. In 2007, through ultra-detailed digital scans, it had been revealed Vinci had once painted eyebrows with bolder eyelashes; they just got faded as a victim of restoration work.
  6. This extraordinary painting is the reason behind a few deaths.
  7. Mona Lisa had been stolen a few times. Pablo Picasso was one of the suspects.

2. Famous Paintings of Women: Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring

Johannes Vermeer - Girl with a Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring

We have seen this mesmerizing oil paint canvas by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer. Here are a few facts –

  1. There is no strong evidence, but the girl in “Girl with a Pearl Earring” perhaps has been Maria, Vermeer’s oldest daughter.
  2. This one work has several names: Head of a Girl in Turban, Girl in a Turban, The Young Girl with Turban, and Head of a Young Girl.
  3. This painting is housed in Hague, and it’s been for over a century.
  4. According to Kristy Puchko, the black background was ‘glossy green’ once; it has changed over time.
  5. Arnoldus Andries des Tombe bought this painting for an insanely cheap price, 2 guilders that is just 200 cents.


3. Famous Paintings of Women: Edouard Manet’s Olympia

Edouard Manet - Olympia,

Here are a few facts about one of the most famous paintings of women, well of not-an-ideal woman according to the society of Edouard Manet‘s era –

  1. The most interesting fact about this nude painting is the maid’s expression; the look on the maid’s face is quite normal, there is no sign of discomfort but the society in that period was not as liberal as this painting.
  2. The painting’s details feature a blue strapped slipper on just one foot, pearl earring and bracelet, black cord around neck, and orchid in hair.
  3. The black cat in the painting is a symbol of her profession, prostitution.
  4. There is no sense of awkwardness in her framework, which shows her supremacy.
  5. Instead of using soft colour tones for nudes, as used by Manet’s contemporary artists, he used hard brush strokes for this fine work of art.

4. Famous Paintings of Women: James McNeill Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Whistler’s Mother)

James McNeill Whistler - Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Whistler's Mother)
Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, also known as Whistler’s Mother)

American artist James McNeill Whistler is best known for painting his beloved mother’s pain, known as Whistler’s Mother. Here are few facts about this portrait –

  1. Whistler’s mother’s portrait was not planned. Maggie Graham, daughter of a Member of Parliament, was supposed to be on the portrait, but Whistler had not received any satisfactory finishing to the portrait. Then he asked his mother, and that is how we got this remarkable portrait.
  2. In actuality, the portrait was to be prepared in a standing position, and the aging lady stood for three days as well. But she couldn’t anymore, so the artist drew it in a sitting position, which was easier for his mother.
  3. This portrait measures about 56.8 inches by 64.2 inches.
  4. The original name of this portrait is Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s mother.
  5. Anna McNeill Whistler was a true Victorian, religious, good housewife, and mother. It is quite surprising, but Whistler’s mother was very supportive of James Whistler’s bohemian lifestyle.
  6. This painting is described as America’s Mona Lisa. This painting is globally compared with American Gothic, The Scream, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

5. Famous Paintings of Women: Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

Gustav Klimt - Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

Here are a few facts about Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which portrays a distinct influence of Egyptian art on the artist –

  1. Gustav Klimt took 3 years to complete Adele Bloch-Bauer I.
  2. The husband of the model owned this magnificent painting.
  3. This illustration is not only an inspiration for art forms, but it has also inspired films and books.
  4. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is one of the richest artworks, especially because it uses materials like gold. The unique formation and style of this portrait make it one of the most famous paintings of women.

6. Famous Paintings of Women: Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

Frida Kahlo - Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird
Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s greatest artists, was renowned because of her revealing and brutal self-portraits. Here are few facts about Frida’s most popular creation, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, one of the most celebrated and famous paintings of women –

  1. This masterpiece is one of Frida Kahlo’s most popular works among 55 self-portraits.
  2. After a streetcar accident, Kahlo, at a very young age, taught herself to paint. Over the years, painting self-portraits in distress became Frida’s habit. This excellent creation was also a part of her coping ritual.
  3. In the year 1929, Frida wed Diego Rivera, a fellow Mexican painter. Their 10-year married life was tumultuous. It is believed that this self-portrait with the thorn necklace is a depiction of her suffering over the separation.
  4. Nickolas Muray, an ex-lover of Frida Kahlo, purchased this painting when she struggled through the financial crisis.
  5. Some art historians concluded that this painting is perhaps blasphemous. The thorn necklace can be counted as the crown of the thorns of Christ. The butterflies can be interpreted as a symbol of resurrection, and the white frock is a distinct hint of martyrdom. This comparison leads some to believe that Frida Kahlo is comparing herself to Jesus Christ.
  6. In Mexican culture, the hummingbird is a sign of good luck.
  7. The monkey represents Rivera; after all, in the painting, the monkey is tugging the thorn necklace tightly to make her bleed. Some say Rivera had given a monkey to Frida as a pet.
  8. This self-portrait has travelled to numerous art museums in Spain, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Austria, Germany, France, and Rome.

7. Famous Paintings of Women: John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X

madame x
John Singer Sargent  Madame X

American artist, John Singer Sargent‘s Portrait of Madame X, is one of the most famous paintings of women, and it is considered a brilliant depiction of femininity and classical beauty. Here are a few facts about Madame X’s portrait-

  1. In reality, Madame X was Madame Virginie Gautreau. She received several offers from artists to work as a muse, but she rejected all. After two years of begging, Gautreau agreed to Sargent’s proposal.
  2. To gain her pale complexion, she is rumoured to have used lavender-coloured face powder and eaten arsenic wafers; however, according to modern researchers, the arsenic wafers were more likely to be rice powder.
  3. Madame X’s hair is similar to the style of the Hellenic era.
  4. John Singer Sargent longed to create the portrait of Madame X to have a concrete reputation in the art world of France.
  5. The Portrait of Madame X was approved in the year 1884 for the Paris Salon.
  6. Virginie Gautreau’s mother, De Ternant, wanted the painting down because she thought it hurt her daughter’s reputation, whereas her scandalous life and portraits made her more famous and interesting. Her mother even to went to the Salon itself to request them to pull down the painting. Later, Sargent pulled it down and did not exhibit for several years.
  7. After exhibiting the portrait in 1905, the artist received quite a bit of fame from the British and the Americans and was approached for several commissioned works.
  8. The portrait measures about 7 feet by 4 feet.
  9. In 1916, Sargent sold his portrait to the Metropolitan Museum, and he considered this portrait his ‘best thing’. It is indeed one of the most famous paintings of women created in the 19th century.

8. Famous Paintings of Women: Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli - Birth of Venus
The Birth of Venus, 1484


The Birth of Venus was painted in the period of the Early Renaissance. Botticelli painted the Birth of Venus on canvas- though the norm was wood panels because woods were more expensive than canvas; this portrait stood out and got recognized as a 15th-century Italian painting. It is certainly one of the most famous paintings of women. Here are a few facts about The Birth of Venus –

  1. During the 15th century, Christianity was the main inspiration and influence, and certainly, nudity was out of the question, yet Botticelli dared to paint The Birth of Venus, a nude painting.
  2. This oil on canvas painting depicts the goddess of love, Venus standing modestly inside a sea shell, blooming flowers and God of the west wind, Zephyr carrying either Chloris or Aura, nymphs of spring and wind blowing Venus ashore. Goddess of season, Horae is standing with a cape to protect the newborn Venus.
  3. Some expensive alabaster powder was used to brighten the vivid colours of this portrait, making the colours and details timeless.
  4. The portrait of Venus was photoshopped in the year 2014 to match the contemporary beauty standard, but the outcome was not satisfactory. The original depiction is far better.
  5. The portrait was hidden from the public for 50 years because of the sensuality; although the violet sprinkles depict modesty, it is also used for love potions.

Doesn’t it astonish how remarkable these paintings are? Do you have any favourite artists? Are there any famous paintings of women that live in your mind rent-free? Are you familiar with any facts that you think some might not know?

Let us know in the comment section below about your views on the Top 8 Most Famous Paintings of Women.

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