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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brought figurative painting fully into the present with his sexy images imbued with contemporary themes and smart art historical references.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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Jean-Michel Basquiat, acrylic painting on canvas signed
Dec 11, 10:15 PM CET
Jean-Michel Basquiat, acrylic painting on canvas signed
by Novartia
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€25018 Bids
JÉRÔME MESNAGER L'HOMME BLANC
Nov 29, 7:00 PM CET
JÉRÔME MESNAGER L'HOMME BLANC
by L’Hôpital Fondation Adolphe de Rothschild
Est: €2,500- €0
€95010 Bids
LINDE MARTIN (1930 - 2010): IF I HAD A BELL
Nov 29, 9:00 AM PST
LINDE MARTIN (1930 - 2010): IF I HAD A BELL
by Abell Auction
Est: $100- $200
$40010 Bids
TEMPONOK MIKE
Nov 29, 7:00 PM CET
TEMPONOK MIKE
by L’Hôpital Fondation Adolphe de Rothschild
Est: €4,100- €0
€1,20010 Bids
P.R. McINTOSH ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
Nov 29, 6:00 PM PST
P.R. McINTOSH ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
by O'Gallerie
Est: $200- $300
$1708 Bids
JO LITTLE LES SOUVENIRS
Nov 29, 7:00 PM CET
JO LITTLE LES SOUVENIRS
by L’Hôpital Fondation Adolphe de Rothschild
Est: €1,200- €0
€8507 Bids
Keith Haring , OIL ON CANVAS
Dec 11, 10:15 PM CET
Keith Haring , OIL ON CANVAS
by Novartia
Est: €4,000- €5,000
€506 Bids
Impressionist Edwin E. Morris Town in Snow Oil on Canvas
Dec 03, 9:00 AM CST
Impressionist Edwin E. Morris Town in Snow Oil on Canvas
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $100- $300
$1105 Bids
P.R. McINTOSH TWO ACRYLICS ON BOARD
Nov 29, 6:00 PM PST
P.R. McINTOSH TWO ACRYLICS ON BOARD
by O'Gallerie
Est: $200- $300
$2255 Bids
Bo Bartlett (American, b. 1955) Tar Man Study
Dec 06, 11:00 AM EST
Bo Bartlett (American, b. 1955) Tar Man Study
by Freeman's
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,4004 Bids
Herman Brood (Dutch 1946 - 2001)
Nov 29, 6:00 PM CET
Herman Brood (Dutch 1946 - 2001)
by Adams Amsterdam Auctions
Est: €2,500- €3,500
€2,4004 Bids
SENY VLAD
Nov 29, 7:00 PM CET
SENY VLAD
by L’Hôpital Fondation Adolphe de Rothschild
Est: €3,400- €0
€1,2004 Bids
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Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980) La Chanteuse
Dec 03, 5:00 PM HKT
Mai Trung Thu (1906-1980) La Chanteuse
by Bonhams
Est: HKD0- HKD0
HKD1,1003 Bids
DONALD EVANS (1945 - 1977): SABOT 1925. DIRIGIBLE POST
Nov 29, 9:00 AM PST
DONALD EVANS (1945 - 1977): SABOT 1925. DIRIGIBLE POST
by Abell Auction
Est: $4,000- $6,000
$7,0003 Bids
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ADEE BITTANY DODGE "HAWK DANCER AND EAGLE DANCER" GOUACHE & TEMPERA ON PAPER
Dec 04, 9:00 AM MST
ADEE BITTANY DODGE "HAWK DANCER AND EAGLE DANCER" GOUACHE & TEMPERA ON PAPER
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$403 Bids
EZK STREETART Dans quel Monde Vuitton ?
Nov 29, 7:00 PM CET
EZK STREETART Dans quel Monde Vuitton ?
by L’Hôpital Fondation Adolphe de Rothschild
Est: €1,400- €0
€6003 Bids
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Harold Bilson (Icelandic, born 1948)
Dec 03, 6:45 PM EET
Harold Bilson (Icelandic, born 1948)
by Loudos Auctions
Est: €300- €600
€3402 Bids
Victoria Moggio (Columbian) Oil on Canvas Painting
Dec 06, 12:00 PM EST
Victoria Moggio (Columbian) Oil on Canvas Painting
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $100- $1,000
$752 Bids
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ADEE BITTANY DODGE "FULL FLEDGE LADY" GOUACHE & TEMPERA ON PAPER
Dec 04, 9:00 AM MST
ADEE BITTANY DODGE "FULL FLEDGE LADY" GOUACHE & TEMPERA ON PAPER
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$102 Bids
T. Ward Morsman Artist Oil Painting
Dec 02, 10:00 AM EST
T. Ward Morsman Artist Oil Painting
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$552 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Figural Paintings


Robinhood Auctions

Robinhood Auctions

Bonhams

Bonhams

Art Atelier

Art Atelier

Artcurial

Artcurial