Five Popular Fine Art Paintings

by BrendaReeves

Fine art is a luxury item that most people can't afford, or at least they can't afford the artists original work. However, many people can afford reproductions.

I love the works of many artists, but it's difficult for me to pin down a favorite artist. It's easier to select my favorite works of art. After choosing these selections to show here, I realized my choices said a lot about me.

Notice that all the paintings are portraits. I love to paint portraits myself. They are all of women. Perhaps it's because I was raised by all women, or maybe it's the dreamy and mystical aura about them. I have been accused of being a dreamer. I know for sure that it's the play of color and light that I'm drawn to.

My art choices suggest that I'm a romantic at heart. I'm not looking for some deep political or philosophical meaning. It's the emotional connection that draws me into a particular painting.

Think of your favorite paintings and what they say about you.

Flaming June

Frederick Leighton
Flaming June, c.1895

Flaming June

I only recently stumbled upon the print of Flaming June on All Posters. My passion is color and when I saw this dazzling-orange, Frederick Leighton painting, I became obsessed. I know I won't rest until I get it. It's hard to believe, but this painting went on auction in the 1960's but failed to meet the reserve price of $140. Victorian paintings were not in vogue at that time and hard to sell. The Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico purchased it shortly thereafter, for $10,000, where it remains today.

Frederick Leighton (1830 -- 1896) was an English painter who hobnobbed with the Pre-Raphaelites. He produced the painting known to be his masterpiece in 1895. It was to be a motif to adorn a marble bath in one of his other works, Summer Slumber. He became so enamored with it that he decided to make it a painting. The painting demonstrates Leighton's classical nature. Critics suggest that the sleeping woman alludes to the figures of sleeping nymphs and naiads of which the Greeks often sculpted. The poisonous oleander branch in the top right corner is said to symbolize the link between sleep and death.

Trivia: Leighton designed Elizabeth Barret Browning's tomb for Robert Browning.


Midsummer Eve

Edward Robert Hughes
Midsummer Eve, c.1908

Midsummer Eve

About 10 years ago, I saw this picture on a greeting card in Barnes & Noble and fell in love with it. The reflection of light from the torches creates a beautiful illumination of the girl, and the full moon lighting up the surrounding forest is what captured me. It wasn't until several years later that I found out the painting was done by Edward Robert Hughes (1851–1914), one of the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Hughes subjects were often mythological creatures such as the elves in Midsummer Eve (1908), one of his best known paintings. His technique involved particular attention to minute detail in all of his paintings.


Frank Weston Benson


Frank W. Benson (1862 -- 1951), as he was called, was an American painter known for his realistic portraits and American Impressionism. During his early career, he painted realistic portraits for VIP families and murals for the Library of Congress. Summer is one of his best known paintings. It depicts his daughters at his summer home, Wooster Farm, on the island of North Haven Maine.

The first time I saw this painting was in a poster shop several years ago. I can just imagine a beautiful, but not too hot, summer day. The gentle breeze feels good against the skin. It's one of those days when you feel all is right with the world.

I can only imagine having such a life as these upper class girls. The white dresses set the right mood for the painting. I imagine it as a scene in a romance novel.

Woman Reading

Claude Monet
Woman Reading

Woman Reading

Claude Monet (14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926), a founder of French Impressionism, was the most prolific of all the Impressionists. The term Impressionism evolved from his painting Impression, Sunrise or Impression, soleil levant. The painting, Woman Reading, is a portrait of Monet's wife, Camille, at their London home, It's a departure from the usual style of Monet"s paintings. 

I first saw this painting in an art book when I was attending an art school. The school taught realistic oil painting in the same way the Old Masters learned. We copied the works of many artists to learn their techniques. For instance, when we studied Impressionism, we copied 2 or three of the well-known impressionist's paintings. After that, we did our own impressionistic painting.

I wasn't particularly impressed with the picture of the painting in the art book. One day, when I attended class, a student was copying this painting. It had come alive on canvas. The play of light on Camille's dress and the pink hues were stunning.

Some paintings transfer nicely to print but others don't. Woman Reading is one painting that loses its beauty in print.




Day Break

Maxfield Parrish
Maxfield Parish - Day Break

Day Break

In the early part of the 20th century, just about every household had a Maxfield Parrish painting on the wall. The painter and commercial illustrator produced stunningly, luminous paintings unlike anything ever seen before or since in the art world.

Parrish painted Day Break in 1922. It quickly became his most popular painting. One out of four American households had a copy of Day Break. The original painting has always been owned by private collector's. In 2006, Daybreak was purchased at Christie's Auction House by Robyn Gibson, wife of actor Mel Gibson at the time, for $7.6 million. A record price for a Parrish painting. Day Break sold again in 2010 for $5.2.

Other Fine Art Articles You Might Like

Thomas Kinkade, The Painter of Light, died on April 6, 2012 at the age of 54 from an accidental overdose of alcohol combined with Diazepam, an active ingredient in Valium.
Updated: 07/28/2012, BrendaReeves
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BrendaReeves on 08/16/2012

Thank you Arahs.

EssentiallyArahs on 08/16/2012

Incredible paintings! I learned so much :)

BrendaReeves on 08/09/2012

You are welcome, Mira. I have ordered all of those posters through

Mira on 08/09/2012

Through your article I discovered the work of Frank W. Benson, and am quite excited now, looking at all the images in Google Image -- so thank you! :-)

BrendaReeves on 07/29/2012

Thank you Sannel. Choosing the paintings for this article was quite enlightening for me.

Sannel on 07/29/2012

I see that your taste in paintings are very similar to mine. I'm a romantic dreamer and have always been drawn to paintings of women. Perhaps it's their femininity and sensuality that I find to be so beautiful and irresistible? Claude Monet has always been my favorite painter, but I love Edward Robert Hughes mystical aura in his paintings. Thank you for a most delightful wiz.

BrendaReeves on 07/28/2012

Thank you Katie.

katiem2 on 07/28/2012

Actually I have four in my dining room. They are so special to me. I love art, paintings and enjoy your taste in art. One of the first things people are impressed with when they come to my home is the art! It always sparks a lively conversation. Many people are not that knowledgeable about it and catch the fever...

BrendaReeves on 07/28/2012

I do too, Katie. I've obsessed about that painting ever since I first saw it. I'm going to get it.

katiem2 on 07/28/2012

Ew I love Summer by Frank Weston Benson. This is similar as the period paintings I have in my dining room (3) in total. I love this work.

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