10 Most Famous Sad Paintings - Artst (2022)

Melancholy and sadness have been the focus of many artists throughout human history. Sadness is an emotion that seems to overtake the human psyche and lead to an overall sense of desolation that is very hard to come out of for many.

Artists have used various mediums to express certain degrees of sadness and some of these works have drawn widespread acclaim from art critics and scholars over the last few centuries.

The many different paintings that have focused on sorrow and sadness are often as widely celebrated as those which depict joy and excitement.

In this article, we will examine 10 of the most famous sad paintings and explore the life events or influences that drove these artists to create such works.

1. Melancholy – Edvard Munch

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Edvard Munch is one of the most celebrated painters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of his most famous works focus on the various stages of emotional development humans typically experience throughout their lives.

Munch is credited with producing a work which art critics point to as being the most famous melancholy painting from history.

The work is titled Melancholy and was completed in 1891 during a time that many scholars refer to as the Expressionism era.

Munch’s inspiration for work is said to have been an unhappy relationship with a young woman from his native Norway. The painting seems to depict Munch himself staring off into the distance along a shoreline.

They shore portrayed in this painting is said to resemble a popular destination for Norwegian families known as Asgardstrand’s beach.

Some art critics and historians have suggested that the artist included some suggestive images within the waters reflection that are congruent with the desolation felt by the artist during this time.

2. Christina’s WorldAndrew Wyeth

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Andrew Wyeth was said to have been one of the most well-known artists that lived and worked in the 20th century.

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He produced many works that focus on what life was like for many average American citizens which often included the necessity of hard work and the struggle to deal with the rigors of a fickle economy.

One of Wyeth’s paintings is considered to be among the most heart-wrenching works of art that’s ever been done.

The painting is titled Christina’s World and features an iconic scene in which a young girl is presented sitting in a field, looking back towards a lonely house on the prairie. The bleak and dreary colors of the grass, the sky and the home itself seem to communicate the sadness that the young girl is experiencing.

The girl in the painting is said to have been an acquaintance of Wyeth who was actually paralyzed from the waist-down.

The artist was captivated by the girl’s affliction and felt the need to express the loneliness which she was entrapped in while living in a sparsely-populated region when she should have been enjoying the most vibrant years of her life.

3. Sorrow (also known as The Magdalen)Paul Cezanne

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Few artists are said to have had as much influence over the latter portion of the post-Impressionist movement than Paul Cezanne. Many of his most prominent works feature religious themes that revolve around biblical stories from the New Testament.

One of these paintings features the famous figure of Mary Magdalene and is titled Sorrow (also known as The Magdalen). This work is believed to have been completed in 1869.

Cezanne’s father acquired a villa in a small French town in 1860. He allowed his young son to paint multiple works which he later hung on the walls inside the villa.

The painting is said to capture the sorrow felt by Mary Magdalene, who was one of Jesus’ closest followers shortly before his execution.

4. La MélancolieLouis-Jean-François Lagrenée

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Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée was a widely celebrated artist during the brief, but popular art movement, known as the Rococo era.

The artist was a master at depicting the human form and did so in typical Rococo fashion, which included painting scenes in elaborate detail.

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One of Lagrenée’s simple, yet captivating paintings is known as La Mélancolie. This highly-detailed painting is considered to be one of the most iconic works pertaining to the subject of sadness and melancholy from the 18th century.

The painting depicts a young woman dressed in flowing robes with various items of jewelry on her person, yet her face is fixed with a sad disposition.

Her expression is one of the most memorable from any of these sad paintings as it seems to encapsulate the sense of solemnness that often accompanies deep sadness.

5. Femme assise (Melancholy Woman)Picasso

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Pablo Picasso is arguably one of the most famous Spanish artists to have ever lived. His works are described as being extremely unique compared to many of the painters who came before him.

Picasso was not afraid to explore the boundaries or ideals of Cubism and other novel approaches to artistic expression.

One of his most famous paintings is also a work which centers around the subject of sadness. The work is titled Femme assise (Melancholy Woman) and was completed in 1903.

Like so many of Picasso’s paintings, this one was enveloped in deep color that seems to dominate the canvas.

The painting depicts a woman slumped over with her head resting on her arm. Her expression seems to portray a sense of melancholy which is communicated using the deep blue tones throughout the entire work.

6. L’AbsintheEdgar Degas

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Absinthe was a popular drink in the latter half of the 19th century across much of Europe. It is a peculiar form of alcoholic concoction which often places those who consume it in a state of apathy towards themselves and others.

Edgar Degas was an artist who was likely well-versed in the effects of absinthe from a personal standpoint, as well as a societal view.

One of Degas’ most iconic paintings is simply titled L’Absinthe. This 1876 work depicts what was very likely a typical scene among the various gathering places throughout France and other parts of Europe.

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The woman in the painting is depicted wearing a hat and fashionable dress that was a common style during this time throughout Paris and parts of France.

Her fixed expression seems to portray an unshakable sense of sadness or melancholy that was likely brought on by the consumption of absinthe.

7. AutomatEdward Hopper

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Edward Hopper is remembered as one of the most talented painters during the early 20th century American art scene.

Some of his most notable paintings are now considered to be iconic images of the 1920s and 1930s when Americans struggled to pull themselves out of the throws of the Great Depression.

Hopper’s most famous painting is arguably his work titled Nighthawks, but another very similar painting also draws widespread acclaim from art critics and scholars.

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Titled Automat, this work is said to accurately depict the state of detached melancholy that many Americans were plagued with due to the rapid changes in society that had been brought on by the Industrial Revolution.

This painting features a lonely young woman seated at a table staring blankly at her cup of coffee. The dark reflection of the lights seem to indicate the sense of emptiness she feels inside.

8. At Eternity’s Gatevan Gogh

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Vincent van Gogh was an artist who was no stranger to sadness and melancholy. Through much of his adult life, he had been afflicted with various mental health issues that were poorly addressed by physicians and psychologists during his lifetime.

He is certainly an artist who had a deep understanding of the level of sadness that is often depicted in these paintings.

One of van Gogh’s most iconic paintings related to the subject of sadness is titled At Eternity’s Gate. Like so many of his other works, this painting features the beautiful flowing brush strokes that were characteristic of van Gogh’s hand.

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The painting depicts an aged man sitting in a chair, his head in his hands. He appears to weep at the realization that his life is coming to an end.

This painting likely depicts much of the same mental and emotional struggles van Gogh was experiencing at the time as this work was completed a mere two months before his death by suicide.

9. St. Jerome in his Study by CandlelightAertsen Van Leyden

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Aertgen van Leyden was a masterful Dutch artist who lived during the 16th century. Many of his works centered around The Christian religion and included some of the most prominent religious figures from the time period.

One of Van Leyden’s most memorable paintings is that of St. Jerome in his Study by Candlelight. This work is believed to have been completed sometime in the 1530s and depicts the famous St. Jerome languishing over a book.

This book is believed to depict Jerome’s famous translation of the Bible from Greek into the Latin language. There are many elements throughout the painting which indicate various symbols and tenets of the Christian religion.

Van Leyden also included various small inscriptions and many other forms of symbolism that were relevant to the Catholic Church during the time of St. Jerome’s life.

10. The Old GuitaristPicasso

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Pablo Picasso experienced a phase during his life in which he was wracked with sadness and grief. After the death of a close friend, as well as various other personal issues, the famous artist went into a state of deep depression. His works, which he painted during this time, are referred to as taking place during Picasso’s Blue Period.

One of the most famous and iconic works from this blue paintings phase of his life is titled The Old Guitarist. The painting draws many elements from some of the most popular artistic movements during the early 20th century.

Completed in 1903, the painting is widely considered to be one of the most celebrated works from this era near the turn of the century. The painting depicts an old, frail Man who has an almost skeletal appearance clinging to an old, well-worn guitar.

Shortly before this painting, Picasso’s close friend, Carlos Casagemas, committed suicide shortly after a failed relationship. Picasso is said to have entered a state of deep depression and sadness which brought on a time of poverty for the artist who had yet to gain the fame he is so often associated with.

Picasso is said to have found commonality with the poor beggars after living alongside them during this time. He sought to portray the struggles of these poor individuals, who were often victims of depression and melancholy, through this painting.



What is the saddest art piece in the world? ›

The Last Supper: the saddest painting in the world.

What is Andrew Wyeth's best known painting? ›

Andrew Wyeth's favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both around his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and his summer home in Midcoast Maine. He is perhaps best-known for his painting Christina's World (1948), currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Who is world No 1 painter? ›

Leonardo da Vinci, probably the most important Renaissance artist, is widely recognized as the most famous artist of all time. He's the genius behind the iconic Mona Lisa painting masterpiece, after all.

How do I find the artist of a painting? ›

Shazam for art

Yes, you can try using the reverse image search on Google to identify a digital copy of a painting or image. The information could help with the painting itself but may also provide an answer to who the artist is, and other relevant information.

Which painter painted horrible horrific scenes? ›

Théodore Géricault is another famous artist known for his scary paintings. This gruesome illustration, labeled Severed Heads, literally depicts mortality in its darkest hour.

Who painted the scream? ›

The National Museum in Oslo holds one of the world's most important collections of paintings by Edvard Munch, including such iconic works as "The Scream".

Where is most of Andrew Wyeth's paintings? ›

The Wyeth Foundation for American Art is turning over its collection of nearly 7,000 Wyeth pieces to the Brandywine River Museum of Art (BRMA) in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and the Farnsworth Art Museum (FAM) in Rockland, Maine, per a joint statement. Both museums are in regions where Wyeth lived and worked.

What was Andrew Wyeth's first painting? ›

Peter Hurd, Wyeth's brother-in-law and also a student of N.C., introduced the medium of tempera to the Wyeth family. The three painters experimented with the technique and the younger Wyeth's first completed tempera painting was a portrait of Lupe, his Boston terrier.

Who was Andrew Wyeth's model? ›

From 1971 to 1985, Andrew Wyeth undertook a long, intensive study of one model, Helga Testorf. Testorf was one of the artist's neighbors in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and for some 14 years she served as Wyeth's private project.

Who is called artist? ›

An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse refers to a practitioner in the visual arts only.

Can Google identify paintings? ›

Use Google Lens to identify artworks and discover the artists and hidden stories behind the American art paintings.

What are some good art names? ›

20 Names Artist And Art Business Name Generator
  • Fine Art Spot.
  • Contemporary Creations & Magic.
  • Contextual Ceramics.
  • The Baroque Buddhist.
  • Gentle StateArt.
  • The Creative Pod Company.
  • Slice Of Life Paintings.
  • Mug Hearts.

Who is the biggest artist in the world 2022? ›

With more than 52 million subscribers on YouTube, Ed Sheeran stands the number one in the list of most popular singers worldwide.

Who was the first artist? ›

More than 65,000 years ago, a Neanderthal reached out and made strokes in red ochre on the wall of a cave, and in doing so, became the first known artist on Earth, scientists claim. The discovery overturns the widely-held belief that modern humans are the only species to have expressed themselves through works of art.

What is scary art called? ›

Scary art goes by different names including Dark Art, Macabre Art, and Morbid Art. Regardless of its name, each one shares elements of horror.

What is a dark artist? ›

In the Dark Art Movement the artist transmits his thoughts in a very mysterious way and, occasionally, combining surrealist elements. Horrible acts and macabre scenes make us stop and think about ourselves. Visually stunning scenes, where the black predominates over all colors.

Whats the most expensive painting? ›

The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

The most valuable painting in history must surely be the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Although it is considered priceless, we can determine some numerical value by looking at the insurance value of the painting. In 1962 the masterpiece was assessed at a value of $100 million.

How do you draw a Scream? ›

How to draw The Scream - (VERY EASY STEPS!) - YouTube

How much is the Mona Lisa worth? ›

However, another conflicting report claims that back in 1962, the painting's price was assessed at $100 million. Taking inflation into account, it would make its value about $900 million as of 2021.

What does Wyeth mean? ›

The name Wyeth is primarily a gender-neutral name of English origin that means From Land By The Willow Tree.

What are some painting ideas? ›

Easy painting ideas inspired by real life:
  • Your favorite coffee mug.
  • A prickly pear cactus.
  • Your furry friend.
  • A tranquil lake scene.
  • Your eye and eyebrow (try observing from real life)
  • A leafy tree.
  • Your childhood home.
  • A piece of cloth draped over a chair.
21 Feb 2022

What are the different art styles trends in the 20th and 21st centuries? ›

Some of most influential modern and contemporary art movements and developments of the century include Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, Photorealism, and Neo-Expressionism.

How do you pronounce Wyeth? ›

How To Say Wyeth - YouTube

What is called realism? ›

realism, in the arts, the accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature or of contemporary life. Realism rejects imaginative idealization in favour of a close observation of outward appearances. As such, realism in its broad sense has comprised many artistic currents in different civilizations.

What is Andrew Wyeth's painting style? ›

Andrew Wyeth

What disease did Christina have? ›

It's also a particularly special painting for those affected by Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). Experts believe that Christina Olson, Wyeth's neighbor and the real-life inspiration for the lady in pink who appears in the painting, was probably a CMTer.

What is the meaning of Christinas world? ›

The title Christina's World, courtesy of Wyeth's wife, indicates that the painting is more a psychological landscape than a portrait, a portrayal of a state of mind rather than a place. Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum. of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019 ...

What is melancholic art? ›

Melancholy is not only about sadness, despair, and loss. As Renaissance artists and philosophers acknowledged long ago, it can engender a certain kind of creativity born from a deep awareness of the mutability of life and the inevitable cycle of birth and death.

Why is the Mona Lisa so famous? ›

The Mona Lisa is so famous because it's an oil painting in the style of realism by Renaissance icon, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was born in 1452 and grew up to be one of the best painters, architects, and inventors of the Renaissance era.

Who is the artist of melancholy? ›

Edvard Munch

What is considered the greatest painting of all time? ›

Widely considered to be the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa has delighted onlookers ever since it was painted in the early 1500s by Leonardo da Vinci. The painting is named for Lisa del Giocondo, a member of a wealthy family of Florence.

Who founded melancholia? ›

Sigmund Freud published a paper on Mourning and Melancholia in 1918. In the early 20th century, some believed there was distinct condition called involutional melancholia, a low mood disorder affecting people of advanced age.

Where is the melancholy statue? ›

It is called Melancolie. And it is heartbreakingly beautiful. The artwork created by Albert György (living in Switzerland, but born in Romania) can be found in Geneva in a small park on the promenade (Quai du Mont Blanc) along the shore of Lake Geneva.

Can you buy the Mona Lisa? ›

Truly priceless, the painting cannot be bought or sold according to French heritage law. As part of the Louvre collection, "Mona Lisa" belongs to the public, and by popular agreement, their hearts belong to her.

Is the Mona Lisa smiling? ›

An international team of researchers examined the symmetry of the subject's lips and the muscles in her upper face to conclude that the woman in Leonardo da Vinci's famed 16th century Renaissance portrait probably wasn't smiling in a happy sort of way, as the most recent interpretations of the painting have suggested.

Who owns Mona Lisa? ›

It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic. It has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797. The Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world.

When was melancholy made? ›

The isolated Munch

In 1929, he recalled how he created this painting, Melancholy (1900-1901), saying that he had wanted to record the woman's “dark, mute unrelenting sorrow”.

What type of art is melancholy and mystery of a street? ›

Di Chirico was the leader of a movement called Metaphysical Art (Italian - Pittura Metafisica) characterized by haunting moody images of deserted public spaces with geometric forms.

How do you say the word melancholy? ›

How to Pronounce Melancholy - YouTube

Who is the most famous painter today? ›

Gerhard Richter is at the very top of our list – the most famous living painter today. Born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany, Richter currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany. Richter dedicated his career to exploring the medium of painting in close relation to the effects of photography.

Who is the most famous art? ›

1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (1503-1505) Probably the most famous painting in the world is Leonardo da Vinci's La Gioconda, better known as Mona Lisa.


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