Paintings have always fascinated the human brain for centuries. The oldest that have existed are 40,000 years old. Since then paintings have been a part of our cultural fabric. Many of us have been out of touch with these visual representations of human emotions, culture and history. No longer do we take walks in museums and galleries to understand this great human tradition of painting which pours our souls onto a canvas or a blank space.
Here are some of the most valued paintings that will definitely spark your interest in the great tradition of paintings. These paintings are selected from a wide range of cultures covering a huge span of time.
The Scream – Edvard Munch
One of the most iconic paintings of the expressionist style is the “The Shriek of Nature”. Originally the painting was drawn by the painter after his walk one evening. His walk was on a path where the city was on one side and the fjord rushing below. The painter saw the evening sun setting down and felt the scream of nature. Nowadays this painting is mostly interpreted as the struggle of a man burdened under the struggles and tussles of modern society. The glaring red, the swirls of colors and the man’s expression scream scream.
Girl With A Pearl Earring – Johannes Vermeer
This iconic painting by Vermeer was selected by the Dutch public as the most iconic painting in the Netherlands. But this was not always the case. Once this painting was bought for less than a dollar. The painting has the portrait of an ethereal beauty looking back with the most wistful gaze. Many speculate that the woman in the painting could be Vermeer’s own daughter or mistress. It is one of the most captivating paintings that has driven the fantasies of many literary and cinematic tales.
Arnolfini Portrait – Artist: Jan van Eyck
If symbolism and having Aha! moments is your thing then this is the painting you will enjoy the most. Painted in 1434 by Dutch painter Jan van Eyck, the painting is of a very wealthy couple. The painting represents the vows and promises marriage brings in a couple’s life. The bride in the painting is pregnant but in reality she wasn’t. It was painted so that it promises fruitful marriage. The discarded shoes represent the sanctity of marriage. The dog represents fidelity in marriage. The orange drapes fulfill the promise of material wealth. The chair has a carving of Saint Margaret who is the patron saint of childbirth. The single lit candle on the chandelier represents a bridal candle or devotional candle. But the most iconic symbol in the entire painting is the mirror reflection of the painter himself. As if to mark the witness between the couple and to mark his firm signature in one of the most iconic painting.
American Gothic – Artist: Grant Wood
One of the most iconic picture from the American heartland is the American Gothic. The artist Grant Wood toured across Europe in search for inspiration that would skyrocket his fame. But inspiration stuck him back in his home town in Texas. He drew a painting of a farmer and his wife. He drew heavy inspiration from Jan van Eyck by drawing long faces. He played with symmetry and repeated the lines in the pitchfork with the lines on the house and on the farmer’s shirt. The painting had the duality that suited both the urban and rural population. The rural people saw the painting as a sign of resilient workmanship. While the urban population saw it as a sign of backwardness of the farmers.
The Two Fridas – Artist: Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was married to the most famous Mexican mural painter – Diego Rivera. After her marriage dissolved, Frida developed as a tremendous painter. She used to say that she will never paint dreams or nightmares, she will paint her own reality. In this painting she draws two Fridas, which reflect her inner struggle. The Frida on the left is dressed in a European grown while the one on right is dressed in modern Mexican dress. Both Fridas are connected with a heart through veins. The Frida on the left has cut the connection with the heart whereas the Frida on the right has clutched a portrait of Rivera. The painting showcases Frida’s internal struggle in the most lyrical way.
Paintings are the most beautiful medium to express and understand someone’s heart and mind. It is visually engaging and soulfully enriching. Every painting has a story to tell. It is time now you spend some time listening to this visual tale.