The Sabbat of the Witches, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes

10 most famous Spanish artists top great masters of art of all time

Salvador Dali. Painting Premonition of Civil War, 1936
Salvador Dali. Painting Premonition of Civil War, 1936. most famous Spanish artists

Spanish artists have created many unique masterpieces of world art and will forever remain in the memory of grateful descendants. The creativity of the 10 most famous of them is studied in detail by specialists, and the paintings of the great Spanish masters are still admired by visitors to the best museums in the world.

The 10 most famous Spanish artists are:

  • El Greco (1541-1614);
  • José de Ribera (1591-1652);
  • Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664); Diego Velázquez (1599-1660);
  • Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682);
  • Francisco Goya (1746-1828);
  • Pablo Picasso (1881-1973);
  • Joan Miró (1893-1983);
  • Salvador Dalí (1904-1989);
  • Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012).

The most famous Spanish painters belong to different historical periods, styles and genres. Most of them achieved recognition during their lifetime, not only in their homeland, but also far beyond its borders.

Boy lighting a candle. El Greco
Boy lighting a candle. El Greco

El Greco

The greatest painter of the Spanish Renaissance was Greek by birth, and his real name was Domenicos Theotokorulos. Before moving to Toledo for permanent residence, he spent about 10 years in Italy, where he had an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with the work of ancient and Italian painters. El Greco considered color to be the most important component of fine art, therefore he used a rich palette of colors in his work.

The work of the master is also easy to recognize by the characteristic elongated figures of the characters and the manner of painting with wide strokes. El Greco’s paintings drew inspiration from the Cubists and Expressionists, and according to most modern scholars, his work cannot be counted among any traditional school of painting.

Court of Solomon, Hussepe de Ribera
Court of Solomon, Hussepe de Ribera

Jose de Ribera

The outstanding Baroque caravaggist was born near Valencia, but at the age of 22 he left Spain for good and settled in Naples. His works are distinguished by the magnificent realism of the characters, as well as the skillful use of the contrast of light and shadow. Despite the fact that Ribera lived a significant part of his life in Italy, most of his wealthy customers were Spaniards and specially came to the Apennines to purchase the master’s paintings. The artist’s deeply naturalistic works today amaze viewers with the most powerful drama and the strength of the human spirit.

Defense of Cadiz against the English WGA. Francisco de Zurbaran
Defense of Cadiz against the English WGA. Francisco de Zurbaran

Francisco de Zurbaran

In the work of this artist, paintings with images of Christian saints, martyrs and prominent figures of the Catholic Church occupy a special place. In addition, Zurbaran was an outstanding master of still life, and for the skillful use of chiaroscuro in his works, he was nicknamed “Spanish Caravaggio” during his lifetime. The artist’s bold writing style at the beginning of his creative career brought him wide fame, but later alienated many customers and patrons. The painter, once the court painter of King Philip IV, died in poverty, experiencing serious financial difficulties.

Meninas. Diego Rodriguez de Silva and Velazquez
Meninas. Diego Rodriguez de Silva and Velazquez

Diego Velazquez

The fate of Diego Velazquez was much better than that of his close friend Zurbaran. For most of his life he was the most successful Spanish painter and is rightfully considered the greatest master of the Golden Age of Spanish art. Already at the age of 24, Velazquez received the title of court painter of the king, which aroused the envy of numerous colleagues. The master’s creative heritage includes paintings of everyday life, historical, mythological and portrait genres. His works were highly appreciated by his contemporaries, and several centuries later the painter’s legacy became a source of inspiration for many representatives of Romanticism and Impressionism.

most famous Spanish artists, Two girls at the window, circa 1670, Bartolome Esteban Murillo
Two girls at the window, circa 1670, Bartolome Esteban Murillo
Bartolome Esteban Murillo

The greatest representative of the Seville school of painting mainly painted paintings on religious themes, although his legacy includes charming landscapes and works of everyday life. As a deeply religious person, Murillo, unlike most of his colleagues, led an ascetic lifestyle and had great authority in his native country. A special place in his work is occupied by the image of the Virgin Mary, to whom dozens of wonderful works are dedicated.

most famous Spanish artists, The Sabbat of the Witches, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
The Sabbat of the Witches, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
Francisco Goya

The most famous representative of romanticism in the history of world fine art left a huge creative legacy. Throughout his life, he not only painted oil paintings, but also made unique engravings. At the same time, in different periods of his life, the nature of his work is very different. At the initial stage of the creative path, Goya’s paintings are overwhelmed with the joy of contemplating the happy life of his contemporaries, they are dominated by light colors.

But after the Great French Revolution, the master’s writing style changed dramatically. In a difficult time for Spain, the partisan war and uprisings against the rule of the French, Goya created the famous series of topical etchings, and also painted several famous paintings dedicated to the liberation of his country from invaders.

most famous Spanish artists, 1907 Demoiselle dAvinyв, Pablo Picasso
1907 Demoiselle dAvinyв, Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso

The name of this artist is well known even to people who are very far from art. Picasso was without a doubt one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century, he still remains the most sought-after author among collectors. During his long life, the master created almost 20,000 works and achieved wide recognition throughout the world. He was not afraid to experiment with new techniques and materials, boldly created new revolutionary styles in art, showed himself in sculpture, graphics and design. Most of his life, Picasso lived in France, and in his native Spain, his work was banned by the authorities for a long time. The artist led an active social life, was an ardent supporter of communist ideas and a sincere opponent of war.

The Farm, Joan Miró, 1921 - 1922
The Farm, Joan Miró, 1921 – 1922
Joan Miró

In the work of Joan Miró, along with elements of abstract art, there are also surrealistic motives, and his legacy includes paintings, sculptures, monumental works, sketches, lithographs and prints. In the early years, Miro was carried away by the ideas of Expressionism, Fauvism and Cubism, but later his passions changed. Many of the master’s paintings look very much like children’s drawings, and he used a wide variety of materials to create sculptures: from ceramics and bronze to cardboard and iron. Miro’s frescoes adorn the walls of the Paris offices of UNESCO and Harvard University, and his paintings are sold on the art market for huge sums of money.

most famous Spanish artists, Salvador Dali. Painting Dance, 1957
Salvador Dali. Painting Dance, 1957. most famous Spanish artists
Salvador Dali

The extravagant Salvador Dali is rightfully considered the most famous surrealist painter in the world. Being a very extraordinary creative person, Dali all his life amazed those around him with shocking actions, was easily carried away by new ideas and was always in the thick of things. In addition to painting, he became famous for his interesting graphic works, sculptures and photographs; he successfully tried his hand as a director, designer, screenwriter and writer. The image of Dali still provokes heated discussions among art connoisseurs and often becomes the object of embodiment in cinematography.

most famous Spanish artists, Lit and bed, Anthony Tapies. 2006
Lit and bed, Anthony Tapies. 2006. most famous Spanish artists
Anthony Tapies

The avant-garde artist Tapies was a self-taught artist and did not recognize authorities in art. He developed his own style of creativity, in which the motives of abstractionism and symbolism were mixed. Despite the originality of his views, the audience and critics often accepted Tapies’ ideas with enthusiasm, his solo exhibitions were a great success, and by the end of his life the artist won a huge number of awards and prizes. To create sculptures and paintings, the master often used highly unconventional materials, including straw, cloth and sand. He also gained fame as an outstanding art theorist, and his books in this field have been translated into dozens of foreign languages.

In addition to the above-mentioned masters of fine arts, Spain has gifted the world with many other great masters. Famous Spanish artists also include:

  • Joaquín Sorolla
  • Mariano Fortuny;
  • Juan Gris;
  • Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo
  • Ignacio Zuloaga
  • Ramon Casas;
  • Juan de Flandes;
  • Francisco Ribalta
  • Antonio Pereda;
  • Juan Pantoja de la Cruz;
  • Luis de Morales;
  • Emilio Sala Frances (Emilio Sala i Francés);
  • Juan de Juanes
  • Isidro Nonell;
  • Francisco Herrera;
  • Vicente López y Portaña
  • Juan de Valdés Leal;
  • Francisco Pradilla
  • Juan Carreño de Miranda.

The above mentioned Spanish artists not only glorified their homeland, but also made a huge contribution to the global cultural heritage. Their works always attract the attention of spectators at exhibitions and take pride of place in the expositions of museums.