Each painting is also discussed briefly alongside information on each artist as well. There is a fuller list of the most famous British paintings and artists further down the page, but this website pays particular attention to the likes of JW Turner, JW Waterhouse, Joshua Reynolds, John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough among many others. The best known art movements involved with British art include the Romanticists and the Pre-Raphaelites, which cover up to the end of the 19th century. Since then there have been an impressive set of artists who have dominated contemporary art across Europe, but this website concentrates on the more traditional painting styles which came before the 20th century. You can also find French artists and Italian artists here.
British paintings started to have a major influence within European art once the Renaissance and Baroque periods had passed by and new styles started to gain attention. John Constable and JMW Turner brought landscape painting into the mainstream for the first time with some imaginative and emotional depictions of the British landscape and some years later there was a British-based movement called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which continued to attract academic interest to the UK with a flurry of skilled artists following a similar approach to their work which also proved very popular with the art public of that era.
The history of British art is filled with some large artistic institutions which remain very strong today, with the best examples including the Royal Academy and the different versions of the Tate which continues to expand. The Tate has now been extended to include locations in Cornwall and Liverpool plus an additional museum is available on London's Southbank which is solely for modern art. The Royal Academy has always selected the finest artists within Britain at any one time and served as an excellent historical record of the major influences over time. Some have any worked across multiple disciplines, such as art and literature combined, with William Blake famously producing paintings, drawings, etchings, engravings and poetry. His career was so extraordinary that it is hard to know just where to start with regards summarising his achievements across a highly fruitful period that would later inspire many other creative minds right across the world.
Gainsborough Blue Boy
Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough can be found at Blueboyprint.com and is perhaps the finest work by a British artist who became best known for his combinations of portraits within landscapes which was highly original at the time and led to the painter receiving many prestigious commissions, as seen in Mr and Mrs Andrews which is also included within this website.
Constable's Haywain is a classic example of British art and helps to promote the beauty of the British countryside, thanks to an artist who devoted his whole career to landscape painting and rarely produced anything else. Constable sits alongside Turner as the most influential British landscape painters in history. You can read more on Constable haywain here.
Waterhouse Lady of Shalott
Lady of Shalott is a classic JW Waterhouse painting which draws on literature to inspire an artist who held an incredible imagination which he used to being just a few words to life with his bright and charming style of painting. The success of Waterhouse means that several of his paintings are included within this website, but Lady of Shalott remains his most famous of all. Find more on Lady of Shalott here.
Ophelia is a classic painting from Millais and fits easily into the British Pre-Raphaelite movement which also included artists like JW Waterhouse, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman-Hunt amongst others. Ophelia required great preparation by artist Millais who hired a model to slowly bath within a river in order to make his painting lifelike and it is another Pre-Raphaelite painting heavily inspired by British literature. Read more on Millais's Ophelia here.
Landseer Monarch of the Glen
Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer is a classic art work that depicts the Scottish landscape which is what this artist became best known for. The stag included within this painting is just one of many animals captured by him within his career. Landseer was also well known for his links to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and was one of their preferred artists, producing several works that covered their time when in Scotland.
Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano is the most famous painting to date from this highly talented Scottish artist who has built up an impressive following across Europe and North America despite sometimes being rejected by art academics. Vettriano uses paintings like The Singing Butler to cover period scenes often with romantic situations that many find instantly accesssible.
Whistlejacket by George Stubbs is one of the most impressive horse paintings of all time and underlines the technical ability of this British artist who spent considerable amounts of time studying the anatomical construction of different animals in order to make his paintings as accurate as possible. As well as horses, as seen in Whistlejacket, Stubbs also loved to paint dogs commonly as well.
Gin Lane is a politically important etching from William Hogarth who was highlighting the dangers of this drink which was eventually given restrictions within the Gin Laws as a direct result of the campaign in which Hogarth was involved. Gin Lane was accompanied by another piece entitled Beer Street and the two were aimed at highlighting the dangers of Gin against the more beneficial British beer which the artist approved of.
Turner Fighting Temeraire
You can read more about Fighting Temeraire here.
List of Famous British Paintings
Please see below for a summarised list of the best British paintings that are featured throughout this website.
- Beer Street by William Hogarth
- Haywain by Constable
- Cornfield by Constable
- One of the Family by Cotman
- Gainsborough's Blue Boy
- Gainsborough's Mr and Mrs Andrews
- George Stubbs's Whistlejacket
- God Speed by Edmund Blair Leighton
- Gin Lane by Hogarth
- Jack Vettriano Singing Butler
- Joseph Wright Of Derby Alchymist
- Joshua Reynolds Young Fortune Teller
- Lady Godiva Collier
- Landseer Monarch of the Glen
- Leighton Accolade
- Lowry Coming Home from the Mill
- Millais Ophelia
- Montague Dawson Crescent Moon
- Munnings Drum Horse
- Stubbs Bay Horse and White Dog
- Turner Fighting Temeraire
- Turner Rain Steam and Speed
- Waterhouse Boreas
- Waterhouse Hylas and the Nymphs
- Waterhouse Lady of Shalott
- Waterhouse Mermaid
List of Famous British Artists
For those looking to find more British painters from different art movements, please see the comprehensive list below.
- David Hockney - Famous British artist David Hockney
- JMW Turner - Famous landscape artist
- Francis Bacon - Irish born British artist Francis Bacon
- Banksy - Famous British grafitti artist
- Tracey Emin - Young contemporary British artist made famous for her revealing installations
- Lucian Freud - Figurative British painter Lucian Freud
- Damien Hirst - Famous contemporary British artist Damien Hirst
- Henry Moore - Famous British sculptor Henry Moore
- James Abbott McNeill Whistler - Famous British artist
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Famous British artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti
- Joshua Reynolds - Famous British artist Joshua Reynolds
- George Stubbs - Famous British artist George Stubbs
- John Constable - Famous British artist John Constable
- Thomas Gainsborough - Famous British artist Thomas Gainsborough
- John Piper
- Cecil Kennedy
- Hermione Hammond
- John Bridgeman
- Sylvia Molloy
- William Gear
- Heinz Koppel
- John Christoforou
- John Copnall
- Ken Kiff
- Robert Lenkiewicz
- Ali Omar Ermes
- John Wonnacott
- Bruce McLean
- Edward Kelly
- Nicholas Hely Hutchinson
- Ashley West
- Jo Self
- David Leapman
- Ken Maycock
- Stuart Pearson Wright
- Will Teather
List of Famous British Art Galleries & Museums
Britain now hosts an impressive collection of art galleries and museums and you can see a list of the best below.
- British Museum
- National Gallery
- Victoria and Albert Museum (for the applied arts)
- Tate Britain
- Tate Gallery
- Tate Modern
- Design Museum
- Portrait Gallery
- Serpentine Gallery