50 Works of Art to See Before You Die

Jonathon Jones of the Guardian is putting together a list of 50 great works of art to see before you die. He has started with a list of his 20 favorite art works and is asking readers for their suggestions.

My contribution would be Self Portrait in the Studio, by Brett Whiteley, in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney.

brett whiteley self portrait

His list is very European, so my selection is very Australian. One of the drawbacks about living on an island half a world away from the great museums of Europe and America is that masterpieces are in short supply. The good weather in Australia seems to make up for the lack of masterpieces though.

Here’s his list of 20 art works to see before you die..

Jan van Eyck, The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, c.1435, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Caravaggio, The Burial of St. Lucy (1608), Museo di Palazzo Bellomo, Syracuse, Sicily
Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (1654), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
San Rock Art, South African National Museum, Cape Town
Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire from Les Lauves (1904 – 6), Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
Michelangelo, Moses (installed 1545), Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome
Leonardo da Vinci, The Adoration of the Magi, (c. 1481), Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Mark Rothko, The Rothko Chapel (paintings 1965-66; chapel opened 1971), Houston, Texas
Vermeer, View of Delft (c.1660-61), Mauritshuis, The Hague
Matthias Grünewald, The Isenheim Altarpiece (c.1509-15), Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, France
Hans Holbein, The Dead Christ, (1521-2), Kunstmuseum, Basel
Velázquez, Las Meninas (1656), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Funerary Mask of Tutankhamun (1333-1323BC), Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Jackson Pollock, One: Number 31, 1950, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Masaccio, The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise (c.1427), Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.
Pablo Picasso, Guernica (1937), Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid
Titian, Danaë (c. 1544-6), Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples
Raphael, The School of Athens (1510-11), Stanza della Signatura, Vatican Palace, Rome
Parthenon Sculptures (“Elgin Marbles”), c. 444 BC, British Museum, London
Henri Matisse, The Dance (1910), Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. What a great idea! Here’s what I would add just to name a few:

    Raphael’s Transfiguration of Christ
    Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin
    Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa
    Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding
    Michelangelo’s David
    Rigaud’s Portrait of Louis XIV
    Laocoon Group
    Sculpture of Augustus Primaporta

    So many things to see, so little time.

  2. well i feel like a dweeb… I have lived within 20 miles of the Rothko Chapel for 15 years and haven’t seen it yet.

    Two works I amost came to tears over when I had a chance to see them were Michelangelo’s works in The Sistine Chapel of Vatican City, and Sandro Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus” in the Uffizi, Florence.

  3. Rene’ Magritte’s The Menaced Assasin at MOMA

  4. The Brute Tamer by Nicola Slattery would be on my list.

  5. donald judds work at his chinati foundation in marfa, tx. that place is like my mecca (flavins installation is not bad either)

  6. I have read your article and another one at http://www.wayfaring.info/2006/11/26/uffizi-gallery-is-the-star-of-florence/ and i agree this galery is a must see place

  7. Anonymous says:

    the Medici Aphrodite – the Met NYC
    (better than the one in the Uffizi)

  8. I agree enthusiastically with the Rothko Chapel. I’d replace Matisse’s “The Dance” with “Harmony in Red.” I’d add Brancusi’s “Bird in Space,” John Singer Sargent’s “Madame X,” Rodin’s “The Gates of Hell,” and any of Ellsworth Kelly’s or Agnes Martin’s paintings.

    Also on my list: Giotto’s St. Francis frescoes at Assisi and Donatello’s “David.” (I second Boticellis’ “Birth of Venus” mentioned previously.)

    I’m slightly disturbed by the dearth of women artists on my list and the complete absence on the other lists. Is anyone else? What about more non-Western art?

  9. I would like to add the whole collection at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, PA. From the Joy of life by Matisse to the cards players and bathers by cezanne to several rose period picassos to over 100 renoirs!

    now mixed in is eastern art, native american art and african art… so no eurocentric here!

    I cry almost every time I go!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I would add the Rembrandt etching “The Angel Appearing to the Shepards” and Marc Chagall’s “Paris Opera Ceiling

  11. The Rothko chapel reminds me of a bad Trading Spaces episode. I cannot understand what is so interesting about blue panels on a wall. I stick to Michelangelo.

  12. I am astonished and also swuprised that nobody has mentioned one of the most Iconic British Painters of the 18th Century ?

    JMW Turner a Master of New Painting Techniques & Methodology in his time


  1. [...] 50 Works of Art to See Before You Die [...]

Speak Your Mind