5 famous black paintings



Feast your eyes on these famous Black paintings for an example of how black is still one of the most powerful hues you can use on your palette.

1. Cave painting

2. Juan Sánchez Cotán's Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber (1600)

3.  Francisco Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son, (c. 1819–1823)

4. Edouard Manet's Dead Toreador (1864)

5. Kazimir Malevich's Black Square on a White Ground (1915)1. Cave painting

1. Cave painting

The Lascaux caves in southern France feature wall paintings made during the Upper Palaeolithic approximately 17,300 years ago. Shown here is an image of aurochs (an extinct type of wild cattle), horses and deer. Paint was applied by blowing through a tube, using brushes made from animal hair, or with the fingers and other tools.

  Lascaux cave painting
image source wikipedia
2. Juan Sánchez Cotán (1561–1627) Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber, 1600. Oil on canvas, 69cm x 85cm. San Diego Museum of Art

The Baroque painter Cotán was a fore runner of the genre of Spanish still life painting also known as bodegones. Cotán creates geometric arrangements of fruit and vegetables that are set in bright sunlight against an impenetrable black background. His paintings have a powerful realism through Cotán’s meticulous attention to everyday forms and details.

   Juan Sánchez Cotán Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber   
image source wikimeda commons  

3. Francisco Goya (1746-1828) Saturn Devouring His Son, c. 1819–1823.
Oil mural transferred to canvas, 143cm x 81cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid

In later life Goya took a house outside of Madrid. Directly onto the walls he painted 14 large images which have become known as the Black Paintings for their sombre palette and dark, haunting themes. Saturn devouring his son was originally in the dining room. All the paintings have since been transferred to canvas and are now on display in the Prado, Madrid.
  Francisco Goya, Saturn Devouring His Son
image source wikipedia
4. Edouard Manet (1832-1883) Dead Toreador (1864).
Oil on canvas, 75.9 x 153.3 cm, Widener Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Associated with Impressionism and often working with their brightly coloured palette, Manet was also fascinated with the Spanish master Velazquez. Considered a forerunner of Modernism, The Dead Toreador reflects Manet’s interest in Velasquez with its subject and sombre palette of umbers and blacks.
 Edouard Manet, Dead Toreador
image source wikipedia

5. Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) Black Square on a White Ground, (1915).
Oil on canvas, 106 x 106 cm Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

A black square placed against the sun first appeared in Malevich’s stage designs for the 1913 Futurist opera, Victory over the sun. As an independent oil painting Malevich exhibited Black Square in the Last Futurist Exhibition in Petrograd in 1915. Malevich took the ideas of Cubism and Futurism and founded radical, avant-garde art movement Suprematism, of which Black Square is considered a seminal work.  
    Kazimir Malevich, Black Square on a White Ground     

*Lead image: Juan Sánchez Cotán, Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber, 1600, oil on canvas, 69 x 85cm, image source wikipedia