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Being a famous artist in your own lifetime is no guarantee that you'll be remembered by other artists. Have you heard of the French painter Ernest Meissonier? He was a contemporary with Edouard Manet, and by far the more successful artist in terms of critical acclaim and sales. The reverse is also true, with Vincent van Gogh probably the most famous example. Van Gogh relied on his brother, Theo, to provide him with paint and canvas, yet today his paintings fetch record prices whenever they come up at art auction and he's a household name.

Looking at famous paintings past and present can teach you many things, including composition and handling of paint. Though probably the most important lesson is that you should ultimately paint for yourself, not for a market or for posterity.

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Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum - Vincent Van Gogh - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum
Vincent Van Gogh
The origin of the world - Gustave Courbet - www.most-famous-paintings.org
The origin of the world
Gustave Courbet
The Last Supper 1498 - Leonardo Da Vinci - www.most-famous-paintings.org
The Last Supper 1498
Leonardo Da Vinci
Stormy sea with Lighthouse - Karl Blechen - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Stormy sea with Lighthouse
Karl Blechen
Venus Rising - Jean-Léon Gérôme - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Venus Rising
Jean-Léon Gérôme
Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Starry Night
Vincent Van Gogh
Pharaohs Handmaidens - John Maler Collier - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Pharaohs Handmaidens
John Maler Collier
Mona Lisa Monalisa - Fernando Botero - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Mona Lisa Monalisa
Fernando Botero
Arlette Boucard with Arums, 1931 - Tamara de Lempicka - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Arlette Boucard with Arums, 1931
Tamara de Lempicka
Open window at Collioure - Henri Matisse - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Open window at Collioure
Henri Matisse
I Sangkammaren - Anders Zorn - www.most-famous-paintings.org
I Sangkammaren
Anders Zorn
The Storm - Pierre Auguste Cot - www.most-famous-paintings.org
The Storm
Pierre Auguste Cot
Creation of Adam  1510 - Michelangelo Buonarroti	 - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Creation of Adam 1510
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Vercingetorix throws down his arms at the feet of Julius... - Lionel Noel Royer - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Vercingetorix throws down his arms at the feet of Julius...
Lionel Noel Royer
Adam and Eve, 1932 - Tamara de Lempicka - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Adam and Eve, 1932
Tamara de Lempicka
Picking The Favourite   Detail - Giulio Rosati - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Picking The Favourite Detail
Giulio Rosati
A Soul Brought to Heaven 1878 - William-Adolphe Bouguereau - www.most-famous-paintings.org
A Soul Brought to Heaven 1878
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Girl with a Pearl Earring c. 1665 - Jan Vermeer Van Delft - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Girl with a Pearl Earring c. 1665
Jan Vermeer Van Delft
The Kiss - Gustav Klimt - www.most-famous-paintings.org
The Kiss
Gustav Klimt
Ecce Homo - Antonio Ciseri - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Ecce Homo
Antonio Ciseri
Peasants  1947 - Diego Rivera - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Peasants 1947
Diego Rivera
Flower Study - Pierre Auguste Renoir - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Flower Study
Pierre Auguste Renoir
Two Sisters Aka On The Terrace - Pierre Auguste Renoir - www.most-famous-paintings.org
Two Sisters Aka On The Terrace
Pierre Auguste Renoir
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte... - Georges Seurat - www.most-famous-paintings.org
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte...
Georges Seurat
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