4 Iconic Food Paintings by Famous Painters in Art History

If you’re looking to learn oil painting basics, it’s essential that you examine great oil paintings in art history. Now, we understand that it might be rather difficult to pick out paintings due to the sheer number of possible choices. To narrow things down, we suggest starting with food paintings.

There’s a lot to be learned from depictions of food in paintings as these paintings exemplify all the skills you will need to hone to be a great painter. Indeed, food painting highlights compositional skills, lighting techniques, and a mastery of color. So what paintings should you be studying? To help you get started, here are our picks of four iconic food paintings by famous artists throughout art history!

Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

You can’t possibly have a list of the most iconic food paintings and not mention Andy Warhol. While it isn’t disruptive in the way post-modern art is nowadays, this iconic painting did cause a commotion in the art circles during its time. Whether you believe it’s a statement on the commodification of art or simply just a good piece of pop art, no one can argue that this piece isn’t aesthetically sound. However, one caveat here is that Warhol made use of semi-automated techniques in order to produce the 32 canvases of paintings. Despite this, there is still a slew of lessons to be learned here on both a technical and conceptual level.

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell is no stranger to food. Aside from being an amazing painter Rockwell also created iconic ads for both Coca-Cola and Jell-O. While we could have chosen any of his food paintings, Freedom from Want stands above the rest. Aside from the extreme attention to detail that Rockwell put into this painting, it also effectively captures mid-20-century America. While simple in concept, there’s a lot of thought that went into Freedom from Want as it exemplifies the American family unit as well as the country’s culture of overabundance.

Gebakken Ei by Tjalf Sparnaay

While fairly new compared to the other paintings on this list, Netherlands-based artist Tjalf Sparnaay has earned his place among the greats. People often refer to paintings as picturesque but Sparnaay takes the cake when it comes to hyperrealistic paintings. So much so that he even spawned a subgenre called megarealism, as his paintings look more like high-definition photographs than actually paintings.

The Potato Eaters by Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh is a painter that needs no introduction. However, this piece is one of his most underrated works. The Potato Eaters was among his earlier works but this doesn’t mean that it represents his developmental stage as an artist. On the contrary, Van Gogh deliberately chose a difficult composition for this painting to indicate that he was well on his way to becoming a great painter. This painting is a lesson in how even dark colors and shades can be impactful when used correctly.


We hope that this list will help inspire you on your journey to becoming a better artist. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s unrealistic to expect to be able to produce the same quality of work as these masters of the medium. However, this shouldn’t stop you from taking away valuable lessons from these paintings that will help you become a better artist.

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