Art Portraits that are Familiar to Everyone in the Whole World


Portrait painting has for many centuries been very popular. Most visual artists have created some form of portrait painting in their artistic careers. In addition, many well-known painters have produced art portraits that have become famous and are familiar to everyone in the world.

According to art scholars and artists, portrait painting is one of the most challenging genres to master. This is because it requires the ability to portray the human form in detail. Traditionally portrait artists try to capture a precise representation of their subject but also combine it with the subject’s mental and spiritual characteristics. If the artist has been successful in capturing all this in his portrait painting, the portrait has the potential to become famous.

In this article, we’ll look at a few of the most familiar portraits created over the centuries and are known worldwide today. We’ll also include, where possible, exciting information regarding each painting that is perhaps not so well-known to everyone.

Woman with a Hat by Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Although this painting is relatively “new” as it was created in the 20th century, it is part of the list of famous portrait paintings in art history. Matisse created this portrait of Amélie, his wife, in brilliant colors. However, he took a different approach to portrait painting. Instead of depicting the subject as realistic as possible, he used as much color as possible to express his feelings in his works.

The portrait conveys a “playfulness” because Matisse wanted to demonstrate how much he loved his wife and simultaneously pointed out that Amélie was the owner of a hat shop. It is interesting to know that although Matisse and his wife separated later in their lives, they married for more than 40 years. They separated after he told her he would “always love painting more. ” Woman with a Hat” exists as a commemoration of their long marriage.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1518)

No discussion about the most famous portraits in the world will be complete if the “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci is not included in the list. It is regarded as the art portrait recognized by most people worldwide, even if they are not art enthusiasts or interested in the visual arts.

The Mona Lisa is also known as “Portrait of Lisa Gherardini.” Da Vinci captured the lady’s face with extreme detail. It is said that her eyes follow you wherever you stand to admire the work. According to art critics over the centuries, “her smile says too much and not enough at the same time.”

The portrait’s composition is done in the popular way of the time. Her folded arms and head form a triangle, inviting the viewer to concentrate on her face. In 2016, the “Mona Lisa” broke a world record for being insured at $100 million. In 2022, the “Mona Lisa” will be worth more than $870 million.

The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)

The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer is considered by art critics as his most notable work, as he successfully captured an everyday life scene honestly. Apart from the maid pouring the milk, no other movement is captured in the painting.

Vermeer painted her figure with a slightly lowered perspective and, by doing it, provided the viewer with a monumental character to look at. He also created a realistic-looking kitchen. Interestingly, “The Milkmaid” differs from Vermeer’s other art portraits. It was the first time that he used a simple and sturdy older woman as his subject. Generally, he used affluent and elegant young ladies as models.

Girl with A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

This portrait is another painting by Vermeer regarded worthy of being included in the list of famous portrait paintings in art history. Like “The Milkmaid”, he used an unknown female as the subject. However, some art scholars believe it is a picture of Maria Vermeer. Maria was his oldest daughter.

Originally the artwork was known as “Girl with a Turban”. However, many art historians refer to “Girl with a Pearl Earring” as the “Mona Lisa of the North”. The girl gazes steadily at the viewer, and Vermeer succeeds in reaching an incredible level of realism. The blue turban contrasts against her yellow dress to create a dramatic image. This results in keeping the viewer’s focus on her glittering pearl earring.

Interestingly, this painting is technically not a “portrait” but a “tronie”. This was a popular type of painting during the time of Vermeer. A “tronie” was a study of an unidentified person. The subject of a “tronie” wore smart clothing and was set against a simple and clear background.

Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Vincent van Gogh painted more than 35 self-portraits. His “Self-portrait with a Straw Hat” is one of his famous art portraits. He revealed his crumbling mental and physical health in this painting by using deep colors.

In this portrait painting, he is wearing a blue work coat and a yellow straw hat. This was the type of coat usually worn by peasant laborers. Art historians believe the clothing fit in with van Gogh’s self-image as a working man’s artist.

He enjoyed being his model as he practiced his portrait techniques with his self-portraits. Finally, he bought a perfect mirror specifically to create his self-portraits.

American Gothic by Grant Wood (1891-1942)

An American painting that is on the list of famous portrait paintings is Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”. Wood created this portrait after seeing the Dibble House in Eldon, Iowa. The architecture of the farmhouse-inspired him.

He created the Neo-Gothic scene by including portraits of the type of people that he thought should live in that house. He made sketches of the house on the back of an envelope and only started to paint the house after he had received permission from its owners.

Interestingly, Wood didn’t use an actual farmer couple for his figures in the portrait but used his younger sister, Nan Wood Graham, and a dentist, Dr. Bryon McKeeby, as models.


Because portrait painting has been popular for so long, many famous portrait paintings exist in galleries and museums. In addition, many art lovers also have magnificent reproductions of famous portraits in their homes.