Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter and is said to be one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. However, he was not commercially successful in his lifetime and died by suicide at 37 after years of mental health issues and poverty. He gained recognition and respect in the 20th century.
Claude Monet was a French painter. The founder of French Impressionist painting, Monet's painting Impression, soleil levant gave rise to the term Impressionism. Often dubbed the driving force behind Impressionism, Monet mastered the art of painting the same scene several times so as to capture the changing of the light. Since his death, his paintings have sold for record prices.
Henri Matisse was a French artist. Although he was known for his skills as a painter, Matisse was also a renowned sculptor, printmaker, and draughtsman. Along with Picasso, Matisse is regarded as one of the artists who contributed immensely to the revolutionary developments in visual arts. His works also influenced other painters who would adopt a technique called intense colorism.
French artist Paul Cézanne was a prominent Post-Impressionist painter and influenced much of the early-20th-century movement known as Cubism. Some of his notable works include The Card Players, The Bathers, and Pyramid of Skulls. He experimented with water colors and had created a host of still-life paintings.
French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas is best remembered for his oil paintings and pastel drawings and for his signature use of dancers and bathing women as themes in his works such as Fin d'Arabesque and Woman in a Tub. He had also experimented with bronze sculptures and called himself a realist.
French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, father of actor Pierre Renoir and director Jean Renoir, was a key Impressionist painter. His best-known works include The Swing, Diana, and Seated Girl. He was known for his use of vibrant colors and feminine sensuality in his works. He also painted landscapes and portraits.
Russian-French artist Marc Chagall, a key figure of modernism, had explored a wide range of media as an artist, from paintings and drawings to stained glass and ceramics. His major projects included the ceiling of the Paris Opéra, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Jerusalem Windows of Israel.
Édouard Manet was a French painter who played a key role in the transition to Impressionism from Realism in the 19th-century. Manet was one of the first artists from his generation to paint modern life. His early masterworks, such as Olympia, served as rallying points for young and aspiring impressionist painters. His works continue to influence painters around the world.
A significant figure of the Post-Impressionist era, Georges Seurat depicted structured art, far removed from the free-flowing Impressionist art. Best known for techniques such as pointillism, he created masterpieces such as Bathers at Asnières. He died before his last exhibition ended, and eerily displayed an unfinished painting, Cirque.
Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist who is widely regarded as the patriarch of the French Romantic school. As a muralist and painter, Delacroix's study of the optical effects of color inspired the work of the Impressionists. In fact, his work inspired a generation of impressionists.
Jacques-Louis David was a French painter. Widely regarded as the greatest painter of the Neoclassical era, David's works had a strong influence in France in the early-19th century. His works are often linked to the birth of Romanticism. Many of his pupils, such as Antoine-Jean Gros and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, went on to become successful and popular painters.
Camille Pissarro was a Danish-French painter best remembered for his contributions to Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism. He is credited with establishing a group of 15 aspiring artists, for which he served as a pivotal figure. He was regarded as a father figure to several important painters, including Vincent Willem van Gogh.
Louise Bourgeois was a French-American artist best remembered for her large-scale installation art and sculpture. Also a prolific printmaker and painter, Bourgeois explored a variety of themes, such as sexuality and death. In 1997, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts. In 2009, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
19 Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French designer, painter, architect, writer, and urban planner. He was one of the pioneers of modern architecture. During his illustrious career, which spanned 50 years, Le Corbusier designed buildings in India, Japan, Europe, and North and South America. He is also credited with revolutionizing urban planning.
French painter Georges Braque is considered one of the pioneers of Cubism. His 1908 masterpiece Large Nude is one of his most celebrated pieces. Critics often argue whether Braque or Picasso had first begun developing Cubism, and many of their works are very similar in nature.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French humanist photographer. Considered a master of candid photography, he pioneered the genre of street photography. He was among the earliest users of the 35 mm film. In 1947, he became one of the founding members of Magnum Photos, an international photographic cooperative. In his later years, he explored drawing and painting.
French sculptor Camille Claudel is also popularly known as legendary sculptor Auguste Rodin’s student, mistress, and muse. Claudel also contributed to many of Rodin’s masterpieces but never got any credit for it. After her relationship with Rodin soured, she became alienated and eventually died in an asylum.
Before he revolutionized 19th-century erotica as Paul Avril, Édouard-Henri Avril was a soldier. An injury sustained in the Franco-Prussian War cut short his military life, and he was pushed into Paris sex salons to study art. His most notable works, such as the illustrations for Fanny Hill, were largely banned.
26 Gustave Doré
Best known for his wood-engraving, Gustave Doré was a child prodigy who began his artwork at the tender age of 5. A master lithographer and caricaturist, he began his career with Journal pour Rire. He also worked on commissions from authors such as Cervantes, Milton, and Dante.
The founder of the French Classical tradition, painter Nicolas Poussin was initially influenced by Venetian art but later deviated to antiquity. Most of his paintings showcased historical, mythological, biblical elements but some were also inspired by landscapes and poetry. The Death of the Virgin remains one of his best-known works.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau was a French academic painter who enjoyed significant popularity in the United States and France. Renowned for his realistic genre paintings, which focused on the beauty of the female human body, Bouguereau received top prices for his paintings and numerous official honors during his lifetime.
29 Dora Maar
Born to a French mother and a Croatian father, Dora Maar spent her childhood in Argentina and later studied art in Paris. The renowned surrealist artist and photographer later gained fame as Pablo Picasso’s lover and muse, and was featured in his paintings such as Weeping Woman.
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was a French painter and sculptor remembered for designing the Statue of Liberty. He is also credited with designing other iconic statues like The Lion of Belfort and Marquis de Lafayette. In addition to being a sculptor, Bartholdi also played an important role in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, serving as a liaison officer to Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Marie Tussaud was a French artist and sculptor best remembered for her wax sculptures. She founded Madame Tussauds, a wax museum, in London in 1835. The museum is a major tourist attraction today. As a young girl, she learned wax modeling from doctor cum wax modeler Philippe Curtius. In the ensuing years, she became a prominent sculptor.
35 Jean Giraud
Fernand Léger was a French sculptor, painter, and filmmaker. Widely regarded as the forerunner of pop art, Léger was also active as a teacher for several years. He is also credited with establishing his own Académie Fernand Léger, where he taught for many years. Many of his pupils went on to establish themselves as successful artists.
French painter Camille Corot is remembered for his landscape paintings that paved the path for the Impressionist movement. Born into a milliner’s family, Corot was a poor student and shunned his family business to learn painting at 25. His works, however, were easy to replicate and led to many forgeries.
39 Jean Arp
Jean Arp was born in Strasbourg, to a German father and a French mother. After studying art in Paris and Switzerland, he co-created The Modern Alliance and participated in the Dada and Abstraction-Création movements. An avant-garde painter and sculptor, he also experimented with media such as embroidery.
40 Yves Klein
French painter Pierre Bonnard was part of Les Nabis and later led the Intimists. Known for his love for bright colors, he painted a range of subjects, from domestic scenes to nudes, and could even paint from memory. Though a womanizer, Bonnard was married to his muse Marthe de Méligny.
Niki de Saint Phalle was a French-American painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. She gained prominence as a monumental sculptor as not many women were renowned for their skills as monumental sculptors. Also remembered for her social work, Niki was one of the earliest artists to spread awareness about AIDS through art. She also wrote extensively in English and French.
48 Jean Marais
French actor Jean Marais was not only a long-time collaborator of director Jean Cocteau but was also his lover. After being rejected by the Paris Conservatory, he studied photography and later got only small roles, until Cocteau roped him in for lead roles in films such as Beauty and the Beast.