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The Greatest Painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Yann, published on 29/05/2019 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > Painting > The Best Pieces at the MET

While a lot of the world’s greatest museums are in Europe, you shouldn’t forget one of the greatest art museums in the world: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

This huge museum in Manhattan, New York, is home to over 2 million pieces of art from all over the world. Van Gogh, Cézanne, Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Joseph Durand-Ruel, Jean-Frédéric Bazille, Manet, Berthe Morisot, Degas, Ingres, Delacroix, and Warhol all appear at the MET, an out-of-the-ordinary art museum in the United States of America.

The greatest artistic movements are all present at the MET: impressionism, realism, self-portraits, expressionism, fauvism, naturalism, pointillism, and symbolism.

In this article, we’ve put together a non-exhaustive list of some of the best paintings you can see in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

Emanuel Gittlieb Leutze is an American painter of German origin who specialised in painting historical events, especially American historical accounts including the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the American War of Independence.

What was Emanuel Leutze's most famous painting? Washington knew how to make an entrance. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The latter was the theme in this 1851 painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware, an oil on canvas showing the event that occurred in 1776 following a surprise attack from the American on the British during the battle of Trenton.

The painting is part of the museum’s permanent collection and is well worth your time. There are several copies, including one at the White House, making it a very symbolic piece for the United States of America.

Discover some of the greatest works housed in the Louvre.

The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David

As the head of the neo-classical movement in France and an important French painter, you might know Jacques-Louis David’s name. While his most famous piece is the The Coronation of Napoleon (which can be seen at the Louvre in Paris), The Death of Socrates is also a famous piece of his.

It was painted in 1787 for the Salon and shows the historical event of the Greek philosopher Socrates being forced to drink poison hemlock. Corruption of youth and introducing strange gods were the grounds for the decision.

This was covered by several other artists:

  • Michel-François Dandré-Bardon in 1753
  • Charles-Michel-Ange Challe in 1761
  • Jacques-Philippe-Joseph de Saint-Quentin in 1762
  • Jean-Baptiste Alizard in 1762
  • Pierre Peyron in 1787

This is a magnificent painting to see when you’re in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

You can also learn more about the pieces in the Musée d’Orsay.

Woman with a Parrot by Gustave Courbet

Woman with a Parrot is 1866 painting by Gustave Courbet, the famous realist painter. In the painting, we see a nude on a white sheet holding her arm in the air with a parrot on her hand.

It was presented to the Salon in 1866 and was judged to be non-academic owing to the woman’s open legs. However, Courbet continued to go against tradition and paint people:

“The beautiful is in nature, and it is encountered under the most diverse forms of reality. Once it is found it belongs to art, or rather to the artist who discovers it.” – Gustave Courbet

The painting was added to the MET’s collection in 1929 by Henry Osborne Havemeyer, an American art collector.

The Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet

Claude Monet is arguably the most famous French impressionist painter. While he painted pieces like “Impression, Sunrise” in the 19th century, in the 20th century, he started painting his Water Lillies series including “The Water Lily Pond” in 1899.

Who are the most famous impressionist painters? Monet painted tonnes of pictures of his water lilies. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This masterpiece of the impressionist movement was one of over 250 pieces the artist painted of his water lily garden.

Before the water lilies, the artist painted series such as Haystacks, Rouen Cathedral, and La Gare Saint-Lazare.

When it comes to impressionist painters, Claude Monet and Edouard Manet are the best examples of impressionist painting.

The Prado in Madrid is also home to some fantastic pieces of art.

Madame X by John Singer Sargent

Madame X or Portrait of Madame X is a painting by the American painter John Singer Sargent from 1884. The work depicts an American woman, Virginie Gautreau, who left Louisana for Paris, symbolises Parisian society.

Sargent spoke about this painting in one of his letters.

“I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. If you are ‘bien avec elle’ and will see her in Paris, you might tell her I am a man of prodigious talent.” – John Singer Sargent

The artist, after the death of Madame Gautreau, sold the canvas to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1916.

Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zúñiga by Francisco de Goya

It’s almost impossible to not admire a piece by Francisco de Goya, one of Spain’s most famous artists. Tres de Mayo, The Nude Maja, the Witches’ Sabbath are all major 18th and 19th-century paintings. However, Goya also created intimate portraits such as this one of the Count of Altamira’s son that he completed in 1787.

The artist chose an interesting way to paint the child; static like marionette surrounded by pets, colours, and interesting use of light.

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer by Rembrandt

Rembrandt needs no introduction; he’s one of the most famous painters in the world and a Dutch baroque master.

What Rembrandts are there at the MET? A philosopher thinking about a philosopher. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

His work appears in the world’s greatest museums including his piece Aristotle with a Bust of Homer in the MET. In this piece, you can see Aristotle dressed in 17th-century attire and posing with a bust of the poet Homer.

It symbolises that philosophy comes before poetry and art in general. Thus, Aristotle is inspired by the poet. The political aspect is also represented by the portrait of Alexander on Aristotle’s medallion.

The piece was acquired by the MET in 1961 for the modest sum of 2.3 million dollars.

The Musicians by Caravaggio

The Musicians or Concert of Youths is an oil on canvas from the Italian baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. As a naturalist, realist, and great user of chiaroscuro, Caravaggio is famous for this huge work.

The Musicians can be seen at the MET and includes several musicians and cupid on the left. It’s possible that the person in the background is Caravaggio, making this one of the artist’s first self-portraits.

The theme of mythology and Bacchus is present in Caravaggio’s work and in pieces that can be found in New York, France, Italy, England, and Spain.

Woman with a Water Jug by Johannes Vermeer

Vermeer, the Dutch Baroque painter, is most famous for his pieces like The Milkmaid or Girl with a Pearl Earring. Vermeer, much like Rembrandt, is considered a master of the Dutch Golden Age.

Who are the Dutch masters? Vermeer is a baroque master. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The piece Woman with a Water Jug, painted in 1658, depicts a young working-class woman carrying a water jug with one hand and opening a window with the other.

Like in other pieces, Vermeer painted a preoccupied woman contrasting the freedom of outside with the traditional rules inside.

Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) by Jackson Pollock

Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), is an enamel paint on canvas by Jackson Pollock, an American abstract expressionist painter. This influential contemporary artist created over 700 pieces!

Here are some of his other great works:

  • Untitled (Naked Man with Knife), 1938-1940
  • Mural, 1943
  • Number 5, 1948
  • One: Number 31, 1950
  • Number 1 (Lavender Mist), 1950
  • Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952
  • Convergence, 1952
  • The Deep, 1953
  • White Light, 1954

While the technique used to create his works is often focused on, Autumn Rhythm seems to express anger. Of course, you can come to your own conclusions on this beautiful and original piece.

We could also have mentioned the other artists on display in the MET like Gauguin, Kandinsky, Caillebotte, Sisley, Corot, Géricault, Seurat, or even Watteau. The MET is a fantastic museum, after all.

So would you like to visit the Metropolitan Musem of Art?

If you can’t, don’t forget that you can see examples of impressionist paintings online or visit museums nearer to home.

Superprof can help you deepen your understanding of art history or a particular art movement with a private tutor! Whether you want to learn more about sculpture, impressionist art, plein air painting, or modern art, a private tutor is the way to go.

There are three different types of private tutorials you can get from the tutors on Superprof: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.

Face-to-face tutorials take place with a tutor and a single student and are the most effective of the three since your tutor will dedicate all their time to you.

Online tutorials take place via webcam using programmes such as Skype. Without travel costs, tutors can charge less per hour than they usually would in a face-to-face tutorial.

Group tutorials are more like a traditional art class. However, you could always get a group of friends together and all learn to paint at the same time. These tend to be the cheapest per hour since the students share the cost of the tutor’s time.

So which types of tutorials will you go for?

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