It was reported just this week that the world’s oldest known cave painting has been found in the Leang Tedongnge cave in Indonesia. It’s a painting of the Sulawesi warty pig, created using dark red ochre pigment, with two hand prints above it. A calcite deposit that had formed on top of the painting was found to be 45,500 years old using uranium-series isotope dating so the painting underneath is believed to be at least that age — possibly even older!
Mankind, and painting, has come a long way since then, and for centuries we have had the privilege of enjoying the works of the hands of many, many artists worldwide.
Children are natural artists themselves and can benefit from early exposure to the world’s greatest masterpieces. Here are some of the paintings that kids (and adults!) should know.
It’s impossible to pick just 7 paintings to introduce to a child but these masterpieces are a pretty good place to start. (If your favorites aren’t here, don’t worry! They might be in the next section, the “gallery.”)
by Vincent van Gogh
The Starry Night is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world and is just one of many popular works of art by Vincent Van Gogh. The Dutch painter, now loved by millions throughout the world, suffered from mental health problems and is known for having cut off his own ear at one point in his life. His other famous works include another starry night painting (Starry Night Over the Rhône), a series of sunflower paintings, and 43 self-portraits.
by Claude Monet
Guess how many water lily paintings Claude Monet made in his lifetime. 250! Claude Monet was a French painter and his paintings of water lilies depicted the flower garden in his house in Giverny. Remarkably, many of them were painted while Monet could not see clearly due to cataracts (clouded lenses) in his eyes.
by Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Wyeth was an American painter. He had a neighbor named Christina who had a muscle problem that left her unable to walk. One time, Andrew Wyeth saw Christina crawl across a field to a house and that inspired him to make this painting.
by Edvard Munch
Can you feel the emotion in this painting? Edvard Munch, a Norwegian artist, wrote about what made him paint this scene in his diary: “One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture…. This became The Scream.”
by Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter and this is one of his most popular paintings. Just as in The Milkmaid, a lot of Vermeer’s paintings depict characters inside a room with light coming from a window. He is also known for his liberal use of the expensive pigment lapis lazuli to produce the striking ultramarine blue — sometimes even as an underpainting, to be covered by other colors like red — in his paintings.
by Sandro Botticelli
Venus is the Roman goddess of beauty and love and she is said to have risen out of the sea foam. She is painted here arriving at the seashore after her birth.
Sandro Botticelli, the artist, was an Italian Renaissance painter who also created another iconic Renaissance painting, the Primavera.
by Leonardo da Vinci
No list of famous paintings can be complete without mentioning the Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda. Its painter, the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, is known as a polymath (someone who is an expert at lots of different things) but he is most famous for his works of art. Another famous painting of his, The Last Supper, is the most reproduced religious painting of all time, and a copy can often be found in many homes here in the Philippines.
Montessori "Nomenclature Cards"
Caspar David Friedrich
James McNeill Whistler
Jan van Eyck
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Rembrandt van Rijn
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Famous Paintings Quiz
Guess the painting or painter!
Let us know in the comments and tell us why you love them!
Check out the Montessori-inspired resources available here for free.