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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brought figurative painting fully into the present with his sexy images imbued with contemporary themes and smart art historical references.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
Apr 21, 10:15 PM CEST
Jean-Michel Basquiat, acrylic painting on canvas signed
by Novartia
Est: €3,000- €3,500
€6,50045 Bids
Original Constantine Popov - Lady in Pink Cats Acrylic on Canvas. Signed. Measures 36cm x 25cm
Apr 28, 12:00 PM AEST
Original Constantine Popov - Lady in Pink Cats Acrylic on Canvas. Signed. Measures 36cm x 25cm
by Pottle Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD1,20029 Bids
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PABLO ANTONIO MILAN "DANCER" ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
May 05, 9:00 AM MST
PABLO ANTONIO MILAN "DANCER" ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$1,05018 Bids
ALEXANDRA EXTER RUSSIAN THEATER DESIGN PAINTING
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
ALEXANDRA EXTER RUSSIAN THEATER DESIGN PAINTING
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$40017 Bids
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IGNATIUS PALMER CEREMONIAL DANCER WATERCOLOR ON BOARD
May 05, 9:00 AM MST
IGNATIUS PALMER CEREMONIAL DANCER WATERCOLOR ON BOARD
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$62015 Bids
Hercules Segers (1590-1638) – Follower
Apr 23, 10:00 AM CEST
Hercules Segers (1590-1638) – Follower
by Deutsch Auktionen
Est: €220- €440
€80011 Bids
Graciela Rodo Boulanger b1935 Musical Oil Painting
Apr 24, 12:00 PM EDT
Graciela Rodo Boulanger b1935 Musical Oil Painting
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$3,50010 Bids
YOSL BERGNER (ISRAELI 1920-2017)
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
YOSL BERGNER (ISRAELI 1920-2017)
by Shapiro Auctions LLC
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$3258 Bids
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HARRISON BEGAY "PRAYING FOR A GOOD RAINING SEASON" GOUACHE ON BOARD
May 05, 9:00 AM MST
HARRISON BEGAY "PRAYING FOR A GOOD RAINING SEASON" GOUACHE ON BOARD
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$957 Bids
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WILLIAM AHRENDT "SINGING BIRD" OIL ON CANVAS
May 05, 9:00 AM MST
WILLIAM AHRENDT "SINGING BIRD" OIL ON CANVAS
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$407 Bids
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RORY WAGNER "THE SPOILS OF WAR" ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
May 05, 9:00 AM MST
RORY WAGNER "THE SPOILS OF WAR" ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$557 Bids
Howard Rogers (AZ,CA,1932-2022) oil painting
Jun 02, 11:45 AM EDT
Howard Rogers (AZ,CA,1932-2022) oil painting
by Broward Auction Gallery LLC
Est: $1,800- $2,400
$906 Bids
Gary Locke (MO,b 1963) gouache painting
May 05, 11:45 AM EDT
Gary Locke (MO,b 1963) gouache painting
by Broward Auction Gallery LLC
Est: $425- $550
$606 Bids
An Original Linda Le Kniff Oil On Board
Apr 28, 11:00 AM MST
An Original Linda Le Kniff Oil On Board
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $800- $3,000
$706 Bids
Suzanne Eisendieck (German,Polish,1908-1998) oil painting
Jun 16, 11:45 AM EDT
Suzanne Eisendieck (German,Polish,1908-1998) oil painting
by Broward Auction Gallery LLC
Est: $1,500- $1,900
$1204 Bids
Rodolfo Opazo (1935-2019, Chilean), "Figura," 1965
Apr 23, 10:00 AM PDT
Rodolfo Opazo (1935-2019, Chilean), "Figura," 1965
by John Moran Auctioneers
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,3004 Bids
A Pierre Ambrogiani Watercolor On Paper
Apr 28, 11:00 AM MST
A Pierre Ambrogiani Watercolor On Paper
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $1,000- $3,000
$304 Bids
Jacques-Enguerrand Gourgue (1930-1996) Painting
Apr 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Jacques-Enguerrand Gourgue (1930-1996) Painting
by Material Culture
Est: $800- $1,200
$5503 Bids
American Jon Henry 1916-90 Oil Painting Titled "HUNTINGTON'S DILEMNA 1989"
Apr 27, 12:00 PM EDT
American Jon Henry 1916-90 Oil Painting Titled "HUNTINGTON'S DILEMNA 1989"
by RB Fine Arts
Est: $600- $1,200
$1603 Bids
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VICTOR PREZIO "A THROWN RIDER" ACRYLIC ON BOARD
May 05, 9:00 AM MST
VICTOR PREZIO "A THROWN RIDER" ACRYLIC ON BOARD
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$303 Bids
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DONALD VANN "FACING THE WIND" TEMPERA ON BOARD
May 05, 9:00 AM MST
DONALD VANN "FACING THE WIND" TEMPERA ON BOARD
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$353 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Figural Paintings


Robinhood Auctions

Robinhood Auctions

Broward Auction Gallery LLC

Broward Auction Gallery LLC

Campo & Campo

Campo & Campo

Material Culture

Material Culture