Can You Identify the Most Famous French Paintings in History?

By: Khadija Leon
Image: Public Domain

About This Quiz

Want to impress us with your knowledge of art? This is the quiz for you. We're going to test your knowledge of classic French paintings by showing you some of these masters' most famous works. Think you know your Monet? What about your Manet? Got a clue about Cézanne? Well, what about Gauguin?

Throughout history, French writers, filmmakers and designers have had a strong influence on Western culture, and their artists have been no less influential. French artists played a major role in the popularization of the Neoclassical, Gothic, Surrealist, Fauvist and, of course, Impressionist art movements. 

We're going to show you works from all of these periods of art, and you're going to show us that you're an art expert (or, um, not?) If you're familiar with great paintings such as A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, Luncheon of the Boating Party, Oath of Horatii or The Dance, this quiz will be a snap for you. If you're not, well, you still get to look at a lot of beautiful paintings, so this win-win scenario! Come on, it's time to show off your smarts!


Water Lilies, sometimes also called “Nymphéas”, is a series of over two hundred paintings which were created by Claude Monet between 1840 and 1926. All of the paintings depict flowers from his garden in Giverny, France. The most famous of these paintings is Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies.

Luncheon of the Boating Party, which translates to “Le Déjeuner des Canotiers”, is an oil on canvas painting which was created by the French impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1881. The painting shows a group of the artist's friends, who are relaxing on a balcony at a restaurant along the River Seine in Chatou, France.

The Card Players is a series created by Paul Cézanne during 1894 and 1895. In 2011, one of the paintings was sold to the Royal Family of Qatar for $250 million, one of the highest prices ever paid for a painting.

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was created by French post-Impressionist painter Georges-Pierre Seurat in 1884. This popular painting shows ordinary Parisians relaxing at the park near the banks of River Seine.

The Ballet Class was created by French painter and sculptor Edgar Degas sometime between 1871 and 1874. The painting shows dancers at the end of their lesson with their ballet master Jules Perrot, who was a close friend of the artist.

The Open Window, also referred to as “Collioure” is a painting by Henry Matisse. Small but wild in its use of color and line, The Open Window is an excellent example of Fauvism. In 1998, the work of art was bequeathed to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. by Mrs. John Hay Whitney.

Sunset was created by French/Swiss artist and printmaker Félix Vallotton. The artist was a member of Les Nabis, a group of artists responsible for setting the pace for the arts in France in the 1890s.

Oath of the Horattii, which translates to Le Serment des Horaces, was created by Jacques-Louis David in 1784. This Neoclassical painting, which is currently displayed at the Louvre in Paris, shows a scene from a Roman legend about the Horatii brothers.

The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulcher on the Morning of the Resurrection is an 1898 painting created by French artist Eugène Burnand. A deeply religious painting, The Disciples shows the events which occurred on the first Easter, when Jesus rose from his sepulcher, or tomb.

Liberty Leading the People was created by Eugéne Delacroix to commemorate the French Revolution of 1830. The picture shows the Goddess of Liberty, holding the French flag and leading the people forward.

The Angelus, also called L’Angélus, is an oil on canvas painting by Jean-François Millet, painted between 1857 and 1859. This famous painting features two peasants, bowing in a field as they say the Angelus prayer. It is currently housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

The Song of the Lark was created by French artist Jules Breton in 1884. Currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, this realist painting shows a peasant woman holding a scythe as the sun rises in the background, and speaks to Breton's interest in rural life and positive religious themes. The famous novel by Willa Cather takes its name from this painting.

Paul Cézanne in "Apples and Oranges" used intense colors to change the art scene of the 20th century. Cézanne was revered by other artists as a master still life painter, but he was unappreciated by galleries at the time.

The Virgin with the Angels was created by Adolphe-William Bouguereau in 1900. A very accomplished painter who often took on emotional and religious topics, Bouguereau was adored by the public but derided by critics of the time , who thought his work was too smooth and sentimental.

Dancers is Blue is the name of a series painted by Degas in the late 19th century. He loved to paint ballet dancers and washerwomen because he loved painting fabrics and movement. This piece shows Degas' characteristic love of color and texture, and is currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a post-Impressionist painter and printmaker. He created posters for the French nightclub Le Moulin Rouge, and also painted many of its patrons. In the 1880s, French lesbian women often gathered in Montmartre, where Le Moulin Rouge was located. Here, Toulouse-Lautrec captures two of them dancing.

The Raft of Medusa was completed by French artist and lithographer Théodore Géricault in 1819, when he was only 27 years old. The painting, an example of the Romantic style, captures a scene from the wreckage of the naval frigate Méduse, whose captain abandoned the crew and passengers to die. It brought Géricault much fame.

This Monet painting has been credited as giving the entire Impressionist movement its name. It depicts the port of Le Havre, the hometown of the artist, and is currently on display at Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Some critics of the time hated Impression, Sunrise, comparing it unfavorably to wallpaper. Others claimed that through this piece, Monet had succeeded in offering a whole new way of seeing the world.

Mont Sainte-Victoire is a series by Cézanne, painted between 1904 and 1906. They portray the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, a mountain in the south of France with a rich mythology. Cézanne was obsessed with painting this mountain, which had a deep symbolic meaning for him.

Tahitian Women on the Beach was completed by French artist Paul Gauguin in 1891. The artist had traveled to Tahiti for a fresh start. At the time, Tahiti was under siege by Colonial influences. Perhaps inadvertently, Gauguin captures the sorrowful emotions of Tahitian women coping with this culture war.

The Basket of Apples is a still life oil by Cézanne, currently at the Art Institute of Chicago. Cézanne often painted apples, vowing to make this ordinary fruit an object of wonder to the art world through his portrayal of it. Some critics disliked this work for its odd angles, but it's pieces like this which made Cézanne the father of modern art.

"La barque à Giverny" is another one of Claude Monet's creations. His water lilies are the most known of his paintings, but Monet also painted scenes of people.

On the Beach, Sunset is an oil on wood painting by the French artist Eugéne Boudin, painted in 1865. He was one of the first landscape painters to paint outdoors. He was known for working on the coast of Normandy, sometimes with other artists, including Monet.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted "At the Moulin Rouge" in the late 1800s. He is one of the best Post-Impressionist painters of his time but also was a printmaker, illustrator and draftsman. In this painting, he depicts himself in the background.

The Helping Hand, called “La Main Tendue” in French, is an 1881 painting by French painter Émile Renouf. The artist was not well known in France until he created this painting, which shows a grandfather and granddaughter, likely a fisherman from Renouf's native Honfleur.

Camille Pissaro was a Post-Impressionistic and and Impressionistic painter. Alongside friends Monet and Cézanne, Pissarro exhibited his works at the Exhibition of Rejects, or "Salon des Refusés". This painting, "Place du Théâtre-Francais and the Avenue de l’Opéra, Sunlight, Winter Morning" is one of a series of cityscapes in different times of day and various weathers.

Moulin Rouge: La Goulue is actually a poster, created by French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in 1891. It's an advertisement for Le Moulin Rouge, a nightclub that Toulouse-Lautrec created posters for (he also painted many of its patrons). Poster-making was looked down on at the time; this work made Toulouse-Lautrec famous, and showed critics that posters could also be art. The flat washes of color and graphic qualities of the poster come from Toulouse-Lautrec's study of Japanese prints.

Young Girl Reading, also called The Reader, is a 1770 Rococo painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Purchased by the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., this painting features Fragonard's signature Rococo style, which emphasized feminine details, delicate colors and loose yet detailed brushwork. Not fully appreciated in his time, Fragonard is now considered one of France's most important artists.

Sunset on Lake Geneva was created by French painter Gustave Courbet in 1876. Currently on display at the Kunstmuseum in Saint-Gall, this painting was created while the artist was exiled in Switzerland.

The Swing, which is sometimes called “The Happy Accidents of the Swing”, was painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard in the late 18th century. Considered to be one of the great masterpieces of the Rococo era, the picture was condemned as frivolous by critics, because it shows a young man peeping up the skirt of his female companion as she's pushed by an innocent bystander. Look closely, and you'll see her garter belt.

From the looks of this painting "The Equatorial Jungle", you may assume painter Henri Rousseau was well-traveled. In actuality, he never left France, but was known for his tropic scenes. He was told in his time that he painted like a child.

The Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, which translates to Bal du Moulin de la Galette, depicts a Sunday afternoon at this popular dancing locale. Painted by Renoir on the spot, this painting shows working-class Parisians relaxing and dancing after a week of work.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is an oil on canvas painting which was created by Édouard Manet in 1882. Currently on display at the Courtauld Gallery in London, this painting depicts a scene from the Folies-Bergère nightclub in Paris.

Edouard Manet painted "Music in the Tuileries" as his first major city life piece. The people in the garden are some of his friends and family, including his brother.

The Poppy Field near Argenteuil is an oil painting painted by Claude Monet in 1875. It's one of four similar paintings created by the artist, which were all views of the plain of Gennevilliers in southeast Argenteuil, where he had settled with his family.

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