8 Paintings Every Art Lover Must See in Person

Posters and prints just don’t do great works of art justice—especially these. Take a trip to the right museum’s gallery and have a one-on-one with these masterpieces, or wait for the right tour and jump at them.

1. “Wheatfield with Cypresses” by Van Gogh

Anything by Van Gogh is worth seeing in person. The thick swirling brushstrokes make Van Gogh’s scenes look three-dimensional. In Wheatfield with Cypresses, the clouds look like they’re about to float off the canvas. You'll find it in New York City.

2. “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Seurat

Everyone’s seen this image, but it’s a different world in person. Found in Chicago, the painting is massive (almost 7x10 feet). If you step up close, the park will dissolve into a giant stew of dots, revealing a painting technique called pointillism.

3. “Paris Street; Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte

While you’re visiting Chicago, check this one out, too. At 7x9 feet, the life-size painting feels like a portal letting you step onto the streets of Paris.

4. “Water Lilies” by Monet

The wonderful thing about Monet’s series of Water Lilies is that he made so many of them (approximately 250!). They’re spread across the globe and the colors are to die for. Some of the paintings are so big they can consume an entire wall or room.

5. “Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch

Painted in the 15th century, the painting is packed with so much symbolism that scholars are still stumped by what it all means. Some of its scenes resemble a surrealist painting, making Bosch’s masterpiece look 400 years ahead of its time. Visit it in Madrid.

6. “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt

The largest painting on this list (12x14 feet), it’s also Rembrandt’s most famous. Visit it in Amsterdam. You might want to hurry, though—the painting has been slashed with knives twice and even sprayed with acid. So see it while it lasts!

7. “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt

The gold leaf exterior makes this painting well worth the visit. Inspired by the brilliant gold found on Byzantine mosaics, Klimt was the first painter to use gold and silver leaf. The result? Irreproducible beauty. See it in Vienna

8. “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugene Delacroix

Delacroix once said, “If I haven’t fought for my country, at least I’ll paint for her.” So he commemorated the Revolution of 1830 by painting Lady Liberty, who wields a tricolor flag and a musket. If the image looks familiar, there’s a reason: the Statue of Liberty is modeled after it. Find it in Lens, France.

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November 22, 2013 - 9:30am
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