1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
This painting is invaluable and perhaps the world’s most well-recognised painting. A small portrait of a woman who was the wife of a rich Florentine merchant called Francesco del Giocondo. Her distinctive smile, which can confuse the onlooker, whether happy or sardonic, baffles critics and visitors alike. The atmospheric background and a subtle calmness in her demeanour are still shrouded in mystery.
Location: The Louvre, Paris, France
2. Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
The concentric swirls of sky encircling the illuminating stars on a deep blue night that sits above a village is a masterpiece by Van Gogh. Painted during his stay in an asylum in 1889, his inner turmoil can be seen in the brush strokes, symbolising yin and yang as he struggles with his personal demons.
Location: Museum of Modern Art, New York, U.S.
3. The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí
Bending the fabric of time, Dalí’s vivid imagination depicts a bleak landscape laden with many clocks. This surrealist painting delves into the concept of time, where dreams and reality can often coincide, paving the way to a hypnotic humdrum of existence.
Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, U.S.
4. The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
Another masterpiece by Da Vinci, who became a leading figure in the Italian Renaissance and a legend with this massive painting. Portraying the biblical story of Jesus Christ as he sat with his disciples to have his last meal before he was betrayed by one of them. Some theorists believe that the person next to him is his wife, Mary Magdalene, which is highly debated.
Location: Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy
5. Guernica by Pablo Picasso
This painting by the Spaniard was created during the Spanish Civil War to convey the horrors of war. This came as a response to the bombarding of the beautiful Basque town of the same name that featured slaughtered animals, horrified women, soldier bodies and even a dead baby, which showed the effect of war on the future generation.
Location: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain
6. The Scream by Edvard Munch
This horror-like painting with the central figure standing on a bridge with the mouth wide open and an expression of terror on the face evokes many sentiments in the onlooker. The red sky gives a very eerie feeling of impending doom, which is a commentary on human life. It is an emotionally charged depiction of the painter’s existential angst, feelings of despair and chaotic mind.
Location: National Gallery and Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway
7. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer
The Dutch artist who painted a girl wearing a blue and beige turban on the head, a shining pearl earring in the ear and an enigmatic gaze in her eyes didn’t know this would become the most revered art in the world. The girl’s true identity is still a mystery, but her beautiful and charming face feels almost alive like a photograph.
Location: Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands
8. The Water Lilies Series by Claude Monet
Only a few artists can skillfully capture the true essence of nature that has an infinite fascination, one of them being Monet. He painted his famous water lilies in his garden at Giverny, just hours away from the French capital. These are part of the series, and the pink lilies floating in the water with their shadowed reflection underneath truly sing to the heart.
Location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
9. The Kiss, Gustav Klimt, The Kiss
Painted in an Art Nouveau style with the bold use of colour and gilded pattern, this piece of art was created during the artist’s Golden Phase between 1899 and 1910, when he used gold leaf inspired by the Byzantine mosaics. The striking feature is the intimate embrace of the couple and the angel-like face of the woman wearing ornate robes.
Location: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria
10. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat
Using the technique of pointillism, the artist depicts a suburban scene where people have gathered to enjoy a Sunday afternoon in a park on the banks of the River Seine. The intersection of the pastel colour scheme with brightly-hued grass makes this painting even more aesthetic.
Location: Art Institute of Chicago, U.S.