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Figural Paintings

Figural, or figurative painting has been around since the days of Paleolithic cave painting. Egyptian artists later represented figures by combining a side profile of the face with front-facing eye with front-facing torso and the legs back in profile. The Greeks and Romans celebrated idealized human form in sculpture.

In the Gothic period, religious figures such as the holy family were represented in art. The figures were flattened and solemn. In the Northern and Italian Renaissance, artists celebrated humanity. They showed the holy family as deeply emotive beings grounded in this world, wearing Renaissance fashions. These artists found inspiration in the ancient Romans.

In the 19th century, artists sought to paint the reality of life, but styles also became flatter and more abstracted. In the 20th century, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque made finding the represented person among geometry a game. The Constructivists and later the Abstract Expressionists celebrated geometry, form, color, and gesture.


Quick Facts

  • Leonard Lauder assembled a first-rate collection of cubist paintings by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger; He donated the collection, an essential primer on cubism, to the MET
  • In the 1980s, Lower East Side artist Martin Wong painted in a figurative style. Wong responded to the Tianmen Square tragedy with "Liberty Mourning the Death of Her Sister - Beijing," 1989, which sold for $161,000 at Doyle New York on May 12, 2015
  • Contemporary artist John Currin has brought figurative painting fully into the present with his sexy images imbued with contemporary themes and smart art historical references. His "The Collaborator," 2010, sold for $3.5 million at Christie’s New York on May 11, 2015

Recommended Items at Auction

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SAMUEL EDMUND OPPENHEIM (NY/FL, 1901-1992)
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
SAMUEL EDMUND OPPENHEIM (NY/FL, 1901-1992)
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $800- $1,000
$7009 Bids
JUDI SINGLETON (1963 -) , Sisters, oil on linen, 49 x 39.5 cm (frame: 52 x 43 cm)
Feb 27, 8:00 PM AEDT
JUDI SINGLETON (1963 -) , Sisters, oil on linen, 49 x 39.5 cm (frame: 52 x 43 cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD400- AUD600
AUD2208 Bids
QIANG ZHANG (1962 -) , Ready To Go - 2014, oil on linen, 96.5 x 96.5 cm
Feb 27, 8:00 PM AEDT
QIANG ZHANG (1962 -) , Ready To Go - 2014, oil on linen, 96.5 x 96.5 cm
by Lawsons
Est: AUD800- AUD1,200
AUD5008 Bids
FRANK MALERBA (1950 -) , First Kiss, oil on canvas, 152 x 76.5 cm
Feb 27, 8:00 PM AEDT
FRANK MALERBA (1950 -) , First Kiss, oil on canvas, 152 x 76.5 cm
by Lawsons
Est: AUD600- AUD800
AUD2007 Bids
FRANK MALERBA (1950 -) , The Kiss, oil on canvas, 137 x 102 cm
Feb 27, 8:00 PM AEDT
FRANK MALERBA (1950 -) , The Kiss, oil on canvas, 137 x 102 cm
by Lawsons
Est: AUD600- AUD800
AUD2607 Bids
Maqbool Fida Husain 1915-2011 Untitled Oil On Canvas With COA
Feb 24, 12:00 PM EST
Maqbool Fida Husain 1915-2011 Untitled Oil On Canvas With COA
by RB Fine Arts
Est: $25,000- $50,000
$10,5007 Bids
Karl Feiertag (Germany,US,1874-1944) watercolor painting antique
Apr 14, 11:45 AM EDT
Karl Feiertag (Germany,US,1874-1944) watercolor painting antique
by Broward Auction Gallery LLC
Est: $525- $675
$606 Bids
David Schluss b.1943 Dancers & Horse Oil Painting
Feb 28, 12:00 PM EST
David Schluss b.1943 Dancers & Horse Oil Painting
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$2004 Bids
FRIED PAL 1893-1976
Feb 25, 12:00 AM EST
FRIED PAL 1893-1976
by OG Collections
Est: $5,000- $7,500
$2,5004 Bids
Seif El Din Wanly Gouache Dancers Silver Anklets
Feb 24, 11:00 AM EST
Seif El Din Wanly Gouache Dancers Silver Anklets
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $500- $15,000
$7004 Bids
Valter de Morais (FL,Brazil,b 1948) acrylic painting
Apr 14, 11:45 AM EDT
Valter de Morais (FL,Brazil,b 1948) acrylic painting
by Broward Auction Gallery LLC
Est: $700- $900
$303 Bids
ELIZABETH DURACK (1915-2000) Angelina watercolour on paper 42 x 20cm (57.5 x 35cm framed)
Mar 05, 2:00 PM AEDT
ELIZABETH DURACK (1915-2000) Angelina watercolour on paper 42 x 20cm (57.5 x 35cm framed)
by Leonard Joel
Est: AUD300- AUD500
AUD3503 Bids
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Waynbarrnga, Buranday - Malindji Malindji Burrundi, c.1964
Mar 05, 7:00 PM AEDT
Waynbarrnga, Buranday - Malindji Malindji Burrundi, c.1964
by Cooee Art
Est: AUD300- AUD500
AUD2503 Bids
Scott Lenhardt-" Shannon Dunn" ca 1996, twin 6- piece lot
Mar 03, 6:00 PM EST
Scott Lenhardt-" Shannon Dunn" ca 1996, twin 6- piece lot
by Nathan Auction & Real Estate Inc.
Est: $2,000- $5,000
$1,7003 Bids
SURREAL POLISH OIL PAINTING BY KRZYSZTOF HEKSEL COA
Mar 02, 10:00 AM EST
SURREAL POLISH OIL PAINTING BY KRZYSZTOF HEKSEL COA
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$803 Bids
AUGUSTE BLACKMAN (1957 -) , The Embrace - 2005, oil on board, 120 x 90 cm (frame: 128 x 98 cm)
Feb 27, 8:00 PM AEDT
AUGUSTE BLACKMAN (1957 -) , The Embrace - 2005, oil on board, 120 x 90 cm (frame: 128 x 98 cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD800- AUD1,200
AUD4003 Bids
William Henry Bartlett (Irish,1858-1932) oil painting antique
Mar 17, 11:45 AM EDT
William Henry Bartlett (Irish,1858-1932) oil painting antique
by Broward Auction Gallery LLC
Est: $4,500- $5,750
$402 Bids
Harry McCormick (NY,NJ,1942-?) oil painting
Apr 07, 11:45 AM EDT
Harry McCormick (NY,NJ,1942-?) oil painting
by Broward Auction Gallery LLC
Est: $1,600- $2,000
$302 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Figural Paintings


Robinhood Auctions

Robinhood Auctions

Broward Auction Gallery LLC

Broward Auction Gallery LLC

Absolute Auction

Absolute Auction

Yair Art Gallery

Yair Art Gallery