Many of history's iconic paintings, such as Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night" and Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," are accessible to the public in museums worldwide. Here are 3 of the world's most renowned paintings and where to view them in person. Let's get to the point!
Masterpieces unveiled: Vermeer's Girl, Van Gogh's Night, and da Vinci's Smile!
1. Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring – Mauritshuis, The Hague, The Netherlands
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The Mauritshuis art museum in The Hague houses a relatively modest collection of around 800 Dutch paintings. However, within this collection lies the most distinguished masterpiece by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, the iconic "Girl with a Pearl Earring." Painted circa 1665, this captivating artwork portrays a young girl adorned with a distinctive pearl earring, wearing a blue headscarf. Despite its diminutive size, measuring a mere 18 by 15 inches, this painting holds a place of great significance, akin to the renowned Mona Lisa.
Johannes Vermeer's magnum opus did not receive widespread acclaim during his lifetime. However, its popularity surged in 1995 when it was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, the painting embarked on a brief international tour, gracing Japan, Italy, and the United States while the Mauritshuis museum underwent renovations in 2012. Upon its return, the museum made a significant decision; they opted to no longer lend out the "Girl with a Pearl Earring." There was one exception to this rule, though, when the painting was included in a Vermeer exhibit at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum during the spring of 2023.
2. Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night – Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
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The Museum of Modern Art, situated midway between Rockefeller Center and Central Park in Midtown Manhattan, offers a remarkable collection that is easily accessible via the subway. Among its many treasures, one artwork stands out as particularly renowned: Vincent van Gogh's masterpiece, "The Starry Night." This iconic painting currently resides on the museum's fifth floor within the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries. Its inception, however, took place in Saint-Rémy in the south of France. Van Gogh drew inspiration from the view outside his window at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, a psychiatric institution where he resided from 1889 to 1890. Despite the fact that van Gogh worked on the painting during the daytime, it vividly captures a nocturnal scene with a captivating blend of blues and yellows. "The Starry Night" made its debut at MoMA as part of a van Gogh retrospective in 1935 and became a permanent acquisition in 1941.
3. Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa – Louvre Museum, Paris, France
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Nestled beneath the 70-foot-tall glass pyramid that crowns the grand entrance of Paris's Louvre Museum lies a treasure trove of renowned artworks. Among these illustrious exhibits stands Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. Despite its modest dimensions of 30 by 21 inches, this painting has left an indelible mark on the art world, thanks to da Vinci's remarkable skill in portraying his subject with startling realism, especially her enigmatic smile.
The Mona Lisa awaits eager visitors in the Louvre's expansive chamber, known as the Salle des États or Room 711, where it has been prominently displayed since 1966. This grand room, designed by architect Hector Lefuel and constructed between 1855 and 1857, originally served as the venue for Napoleon's legislative sessions. After its incorporation into the Louvre's collection in 1870, the Salle des Étas initially housed French paintings, later replaced by Venetian artworks following World War II. Since 2005, the Mona Lisa has been carefully protected within a glass case, maintaining controlled temperature and humidity levels to safeguard the delicate poplar wood canvas from further deterioration.
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