The most famous portraits in painting


“Mona Lisa”

The author of the portrait of Mona Lisa is known even to people distant from art. The great Leonardo da Vinci. The artist finished his work on the masterpiece on September 19, 1478. The painting is considered the most enigmatic canvas in the history of world painting. Secrets, which hides “Mona Lisa”, and in the XXI century are not fully solved. In the eyes of the heroine da Vinci has left descendants encrypted code, which remains classified. If you look closely at the canvas under a microscope with a strong magnification you can see in the pupils of the set of numbers and letters. Scientists speculate that this is how the Renaissance genius immortalized his signature and the date the masterpiece was painted. The portrait has been attacked by vandals several times, it was stolen by the employee of the museum. Now the “Gioconda” (the second known name of this painting) is exhibited in the Louvre, placed under bulletproof glass for safety.

“Donna Velata”

“As beautiful as Raphael’s Madonna” – the portrait is associated with a famous saying, although it depicts an earthly woman. Raffaello Santi considered Donna Velata an ideal of beauty. Until now, there is still debate about who in reality for centuries depicted the famous artist. There is an opinion that Donna Velata – a fictional character, Rafael wrote a collective image of the ideal from his point of view of a beauty. According to a more romantic version, Velata was the lover of the famous painter, whom he bought back for 3,000 gold pieces. This version is supported by the fact that a few years later Raphael would paint another portrait of Donna Velata. It will depict her in the same pose, with the recognizable pearl ornament in her hair. Another famous title of Raphael Santi’s work is Portrait of a Lady under a Veil. You can admire the canvas in the Palatine Gallery in Florence.

“Portrait of an Unknown Woman”

Ivan Kramskoy created this painting in 1883. Many believe that the artist called it “Stranger”, associating the heroine with a popular poem by the symbolist poet Alexander Blok. The official title is “The Unknown. We see on the canvas a spectacular dark-haired lady driving along the central avenue of St. Petersburg. The beauty is dressed according to the latest fashion of the time, but she does not seem happy. What attracts attention is the haughty look in her eyes as she looks at those around her. Kramskoy deliberately kept the secret, and the name of the woman who posed for the painting remains unknown. The artist was able to create a work on the verge of a classic portrait and genre painting. The size of the canvas is 75.5 X 99 cm. Stored at the Tretyakov Gallery.

“Portrait of Jeanne Samary”

Reproductions of the portrait of the enchanting Jeanne Samarie have been familiar to art lovers since their early childhood. There is hardly a single calendar that does not feature this work by the French impressionist Renoir. It is said to be one of the rare paintings that does not tire the eye. The standard of femininity: a radiant smile, copper hair, eyes stunning in depth, in which the heavenly blue is reflected. But the main thing that attracts in the portrait is the extraordinary charm of the actress. Auguste Renoir managed to convey on the canvas not only the external but also the inner beauty of Jeanne. The portrait was first shown at the third exhibition of impressionists. It was not met unequivocally: many scolded and mocked, but there were enthusiastic reviews. The painting is stored in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

“Dora Maar and the Cat”

Picasso painted a portrait of Dora Maar, his mistress of Croatian origin, in 1941. Their uneasy relationship lasted more than 10 years. The painting is considered one of the most expensive works of art. In 1947 the portrait was bought by American collectors Mary and Lee Block. In 1963, it was purchased by another art lover from Chicago – Willard Jidwitz. In 2006, the portrait was offered at Sotheby’s where it was purchased for $95,216,000 by an unknown collector. Allegedly, he was the former owner of Impexbank, the billionaire from Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili. This is the second most expensive painting of the master. In first place is another portrait by the extravagant Picasso, “Boy with a pipe.

Portrait of an unknown sailor”

Antonello da Messina, whose oil paintings are widely acclaimed in Italy, created a beautiful portrait in which a gentleman looks at the viewer with brilliant eyes through a spectrum and smiles slightly. Many believe that the man who posed for the artist was a pirate from the island of Sicily. Antonello himself was famous for portraits of men–and Portrait of the Unknown is considered one of the outstanding.

“The Laughing Cavalier,” Frans Hals

“The Laughing Cavalier” is a work by the Dutch artist Frans Hals. The painting is considered one of the most striking portraits of the Baroque period. In 1870, when the painting was delivered to a British museum, it immediately became the most famous work of art. One might think that the unknown cavalier is not smiling at all, but there is certainly mystery in his facial expression. An interesting fact is that this portrait is used as its logo by the McEwan’s beer company. The picture is slightly altered – on the bottle you can see a smiling gentleman with a glass of beer in his hand. Now you know how the idea was born!

‘The Reader (Young Woman Reading a Book)’, Pierre Auguste Renoir

Completely immersed in her book. The eyes of the reading girl are half-closed, and there is a mysterious smile on her lips. The artist’s work is characterized by maximum color accuracy and vivid image.

‘Portrait of M.I.Lopukhina’, Vladimir Borovikovsky

Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky’s painting reveals a striking connection between man and nature. Nature seems to be part of the woman’s soul, and the woman seems to be part of nature. The blurred flowers can be interpreted as a woman’s beauty and can also symbolize a short life. In the case of Lopukhina, this symbol was obvious. It was with this work by Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky that a new era of portrait painting in Russia began. According to one of the old beliefs, if a young girl looks at a painting too closely, she will soon be overtaken by death. According to many people, this image led to the death of about ten young girls. But these are all just rumors.

“Michael Jackson,” Andy Warhol

It’s no secret that Michael Jackson has one of the iconic smiles in the history of pop music. This portrait was created in 1984 at the request of the singer for the album “Thrilller”. At auction, the artwork sold for more than a million dollars, and Michael’s smile became one of the most expensive in art.

“Saint John the Baptist”, Leonardo da Vinci

The canvas depicts Saint John the Baptist. Thanks to a special technique, the image appears against a dark background. The work has often been quoted, and its elements in his art have been used by other artists, especially his students. His hand gesture has historically increased the presence and importance of religion in art.


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