What's the second most *famous* painting?

It’s pretty hard to argue the Mona Lisa isn’t the most famous painting. I’m not necessarily saying the best or most technical (or whatever art terms you want to use).

My brother-in-law saw the Mona Lisa in the Lourve, noting it wasn’t much bigger than a postage stamp, behind bulletproof glass, and battling a large crowd to get to it. I retorted that I saw what I considered #2: Van Gogh’s Starry Night by walking right up to it at MOMA.

What would be #2, if not Starry Night?

Monet’s Water Lilies
Botticelli’s Birth of Venus
Seurat’s La Grande Jatte
Leonardo’s Last Supper
Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam
Rafael’s School of Athens
Donatello’s ____ (what did that turtle do?)

Granted, there are others, like American Gothic, Klimt’s Kiss, and Guernica (is that Picasso’s most famous), but I wouldn’t say they’re #2.

Marcel Duchamp’s Mona Lisa?


The Scream.

Or American Gothic.

I think you have to see what Painting is used satirically or ironically or out of context.

The Last Supper, probably.

The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel by Michaelangelo gets used in lots of advertising and other media, so it is probably up there also.

Good ones.

I would say Leonardo’s The Last Supper but it’s really a tossup with “The Sistine Chapel” (Creation of Adam). It’s hard to judge though and I wonder what the list would be if we asked the same question in China and India.

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is probably pretty widely known

Here’s a good site, and I didnt think of the first:

Human proportions by Leonardo.

I would think that Last Supper, Creation of Adam, or Birth of Venus would be competing for spot number two.

I can tell you that if you asked on Spanish streets “name me a painting”, the Mona Lisa wouldn’t be the one named most often (las Meninas get my money). Asking “what’s the most famous painting in the world” would be more likely to bring up Mona Lisa, but I don’t know if it would be the one most named.

Just how the question is framed changes the answer, and that’s before getting into language issues. Leonardo’s Vetruvius wouldn’t be considered either pintura or a cuadro in Spanish: it’s a dibujo (a drawing).

I agree with the Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel. It helps that it’s an awesome work of art.

Famous to who, and where? And in what way(s)?

The little guys from the bottom edge of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna seem to have gone on to solo careers. :slight_smile:

American Gothic has certainly had its moments too.

As someone who is not artistically inclined and doesn’t know much about famous artwork, this is the piece I thought of.

Yes, it is certainly up there, but I would say maybe not 2nd.
Creation of Adam
Human proportions
American Gothic
Last Supper,
The Scream.

Not certain which order, but those five I think.

How about Van Gogh’s sunflowers, or one of his self-portraits.

Or Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

That’s the thing. None of Van Gogh’s work could possibly be in 2nd place due to people having so many varied opinions on what is his most famous work. If there was clearly one standout Van Gogh of all time, then that might be in the running.

I think da Vinci’s Last Supper is mainly known for being by that Mona Lisa guy. I.e., it’s “inherited” fame.

I think it’s probably The Last Supper, and The Scream is #3.

It’s true that The Mona Lisa is not very impressive when you see it in person. However, as someone pointed out to me, one time when it was stolen, it was cut from the frame, and lost 2-3" around the edges. So it’s smaller now than it originally was.

Another nominee for very famous painting is Raphael’s Sistine Madonna; unfortunately, not for the greatness of the painting itself, but because people have forever cribbed the two little angels at the bottom of the painting, out of context. Most people (Americans anyway) are familiar with the angels, but don’t know they are from the Sistine Madonna, or who Raphael is.

Las Meninas has a disadvantage in a way - without its full range of complex detail, the whole thing is lost. If it was a speech, there would be no “sound bite” available. At a glance, it’s a dark frame with some people - that’s it.

I’m not saying that Mona Lisa or The Scream can be fully comprehended in a flash, but what you do get at a first glance is intelligible.

Famous to art lovers as a pinnacle of achievement? Absolutely. An iconic image that everyone recognizes and reacts immediately? I don’t know.

There’s a somewhat similar (or at least analogous?) reason why Finnegans Wake is not the most famous book written in English.

Thread relocated from IMHO to Cafe Society.