Loading Spinner

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brought figurative painting fully into the present with his sexy images imbued with contemporary themes and smart art historical references.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

See all items

bp parity badge
VINTAGE IN THE STYLE OF W.H. HINTON "YOUNG GIRLS FIRST HORSE" WATERCOLOR ON PAPER
May 22, 10:00 AM MST
VINTAGE IN THE STYLE OF W.H. HINTON "YOUNG GIRLS FIRST HORSE" WATERCOLOR ON PAPER
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$6511 Bids
bp parity badge
PAUL PO-HSIU KUO "PUEBLO VILLAGE" OIL ON CANVAS
May 22, 10:00 AM MST
PAUL PO-HSIU KUO "PUEBLO VILLAGE" OIL ON CANVAS
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$2209 Bids
Maryan (Polish, American 1927 - 1977). Sitting figure, 1967.
May 31, 6:00 PM CEST
Maryan (Polish, American 1927 - 1977). Sitting figure, 1967.
by Adams Amsterdam Auctions
Est: €700- €900
€1,8008 Bids
Elisabeth Sabala b.1959 Abstract Figural Painting
May 25, 12:00 PM EDT
Elisabeth Sabala b.1959 Abstract Figural Painting
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$4257 Bids
bp parity badge
Jerry Jordan, When Time Stands Still
May 28, 10:00 AM MDT
Jerry Jordan, When Time Stands Still
by Santa Fe Art Auction
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$3,2004 Bids
bp parity badge
Donald Friend (1915-1989)
May 24, 6:00 PM AEST
Donald Friend (1915-1989)
by Shapiro Auctioneers
Est: AUD5,000- AUD7,000
AUD5,5004 Bids
bp parity badge
Tom Polo (b. 1985)
May 24, 6:00 PM AEST
Tom Polo (b. 1985)
by Shapiro Auctioneers
Est: AUD1,000- AUD1,500
AUD1,0003 Bids
Seymour Remenick (American, 1923-1999) Oil Painting on Board
May 31, 12:00 PM EDT
Seymour Remenick (American, 1923-1999) Oil Painting on Board
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $100- $1,000
$2253 Bids
Carlos Estévez (Cuban 1969-)
May 26, 10:00 AM BST
Carlos Estévez (Cuban 1969-)
by Cheffins
Est: £500- £700
£4003 Bids
Adolf Adler (1917-1996) Judaica Oil On Canvas
May 31, 12:00 PM EDT
Adolf Adler (1917-1996) Judaica Oil On Canvas
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $100- $1,000
$1002 Bids
bp parity badge
Amado Maurillo Peña, Ya Llegamos, 2009
May 28, 10:00 AM MDT
Amado Maurillo Peña, Ya Llegamos, 2009
by Santa Fe Art Auction
Est: $200- $400
$1102 Bids
JOSÉ CABALLERO - Bullfighter
May 24, 5:00 PM CEST
JOSÉ CABALLERO - Bullfighter
by Subastas Segre
Est: €180- €360
€1802 Bids
1978 Earl Limderman Oil On Canvas Painting
May 28, 10:00 AM MST
1978 Earl Limderman Oil On Canvas Painting
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids
Samba Chéri (1956) : Acrylique sur toile réhaussé …
May 23, 1:00 PM CEST
Samba Chéri (1956) : Acrylique sur toile réhaussé …
by Salle de Ventes Saint-Job
Est: €7,500- €9,000
€7,4001 Bid
Zvi Raphaeli (Israeli 1924-2005)
May 28, 10:00 AM EDT
Zvi Raphaeli (Israeli 1924-2005)
by Neue Auctions
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$1,0001 Bid
ISMAEL DE LA SERNA (1898-1968) Personnage Huile sur dalle de stuc Signé
May 27, 2:00 PM CEST
ISMAEL DE LA SERNA (1898-1968) Personnage Huile sur dalle de stuc Signé
by Osenat
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€1,6001 Bid
MANUEL MENDIVE (B. 1944, CUBAN) Ofrendas del Mar.
May 26, 12:00 PM EDT
MANUEL MENDIVE (B. 1944, CUBAN) Ofrendas del Mar.
by Swann Auction Galleries
Est: $8,000- $12,000
$6,0001 Bid
Rene Schute b.1969 Surrealist Figural Oil Painting
May 25, 12:00 PM EDT
Rene Schute b.1969 Surrealist Figural Oil Painting
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$501 Bid
Antonio Bou (b.1944) Figural Watercolor Paintings
May 25, 12:00 PM EDT
Antonio Bou (b.1944) Figural Watercolor Paintings
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$501 Bid
Raza Modern Abstract Lovers Portrait Oil Painting
May 25, 12:00 PM EDT
Raza Modern Abstract Lovers Portrait Oil Painting
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$501 Bid
Mojito Havana Huile sur Bois Pièce Unique vers 1980
Jun 25, 4:00 PM CEST
Mojito Havana Huile sur Bois Pièce Unique vers 1980
by Mirabaud-Mercier
Est: €2,000- €4,000
€1,6001 Bid
bp parity badge
¤ Jean-Louis FORAIN 1852-1931 Homme au chapeau - circa 1880 Aquarelle sur papier
Jun 09, 2:00 PM CEST
¤ Jean-Louis FORAIN 1852-1931 Homme au chapeau - circa 1880 Aquarelle sur papier
by Artcurial
Est: €200- €300
€2001 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Figural Paintings


Robinhood Auctions

Robinhood Auctions

Material Culture

Material Culture

Bonhams

Bonhams

Roseberys

Roseberys