The Top 13 Most Famous Sculptures of All Time (Masterpieces)
Sculptures have been a critical part of society for centuries. They offer insights into ancient culture and history. Whether it's portrait busts of respected leaders or figures in the past or symbolic renderings depicting ethical principles, there's no shortage of famous sculptures.
Below are 13 famous sculptures that have captured the global imagination. The sculptures in this list are not only famous but ground-breaking and beautiful. Most importantly they have stood the test of time.
1. David (Sculptor - Michelangelo, Year - 1504)
David is undoubtedly among the most famous Renaissance sculptures of all time. Michelangelo started working on the sculpture in 1501 and finished in 1504.
The marble sculpture stands 17 feet tall and depicts David - the biblical hero, just before his famous battle with Goliath. The sculpture is currently in Florence, Italy (Galleria Dell Accademia).
2. The Thinker (Sculptor - Auguste Rodin, Year - 1904)
This sculpture also deserves to be on the list of the most famous sculptures of all time. Auguste Rodin worked on this sculpture in 1904, and instantly created a symbol of contemplation and introspection.
As the name suggests, The Thinker features a man "thinking" in what appears to be the "signature pose" of someone engaged in serious thought: seated with the chin resting on the hand. The Thinker is currently displayed at Rodin Museum in France.
3. Venus de Milo (Sculptor - Alexandros of Antioch, Year - 100 BC)
Venus de Millo is an ancient marble sculpture depicting Aphrodite - the Greek goddess of beauty and love. The sculpture stands 6 feet tall and is distinguishable because Aphrodite's arms are missing.
Venus de Millo is among the most famous sculptures in Greek history. After being discovered in Milos, Greece, back in 1820, the sculpture was taken to Louvre Museum in Paris, where it is located to date.
4. Pieta (Sculptor - Michelangelo, Year - 1499)
This is yet another famous sculpture by Michelangelo. Pieta is a sculpture depicting Virgin Mary holding Jesus's dead body. The marble sculpture was created back in 1499 and is currently displayed in Italy at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.
Considering the technical mastery required to create it and the emotional impact it produces on many observers, the Pieta is widely regarded as Michelangelo's best sculpture.
5. Burghers of Calais (Sculptor - Auguste Rodin, Year - 1884)
Also referred to as the Les Bourgeois de' Calais (in French), this sculpture has twelve original castings. It is made of bronze and depicts six men during the famous Hundred Years War in the late Middle Ages between France and England.
The sculpture was created by Auguste Rodin in 1884 and is currently showcased at Musee Rodin in France. It is among Rodin's most influential works, given its emotional impact and the real-life nature of its figures.
6. Moses (Sculptor - Michelangelo, Years - 1515 to 1545)
This iconic sculpture of Moses is part of a set on Pope Julius II's tomb. Moses is seen with horns, alluding to the fact that the Hebrew word radiant was mistakenly translated as horned. The sculpture is currently located in Rome, Italy, at the Church of SanPietro.
7. The Great Sphinx (Year - c.2558-2532 BC)
The Great Sphinx is among the largest sculptures on earth. The limestone statue depicts a mythical creature, it is a lion's body with a human head. The sculpture was created during Pharao Khafra's reign to depict his authority and power.
The Great Sphinx is in Giza, Egypt, where it attracts millions of tourists globally, every year.
8. The Kiss (Sculptor - Auguste Rodin, Year: 1901-1904)
The Kiss is another famous sculpture by Auguste Rodin. It is made of bronze and depicts lovers in a tight embrace. The Kiss is among the few famous sculptures that depict sensuality.
The sculpture also stands out for its naturalistic style. The Kiss was completed in 1904 and is currently in Paris, France.
9. Discobolus (Sculptor - Myron, Year: c. 450-440 BC)
The Discobolus is another ancient marble sculpture depicting ancient Greece culture. As the name suggests, the sculpture depicts a discus thrower in his element.
Just keep in mind the original sculpture was lost. However, there are many roman copies in existence, including the one in Rome, Italy, at the Palazzo Dei Conservatori.
10. Statue of Liberty (Year: 1886)
This is arguably America's most famous sculpture. It is located in New York and made of copper. The statue is a symbol of liberation. It was gifted to America by the French on 28th October 1886.
The statue depicts a female figure with a robe (Libertas - Roman goddess) holding a torch and a tablet bearing the declaration of Independence date in roman numerals.
11. Nefertiti Bust (Year: 1345 BC)
This limestone sculpture depicts Pharaoh Akhenaten's wife. It is arguably among the most famous sculptures of all time. In 1912, it was discovered in the workshop of the famous Egyptian sculptor Thutmose.
The Bust is currently in Berlin, Germany, at the Neues Museum. The sculptor stands out for its elegance, beauty, and unique depiction of the Egyptian culture.
12. Laocoön & His Sons (Year: c. 42-20 BC)
This Hellenistic marble sculpture shows Laocoon (Trojan priest) and his sons being strangled by serpents. The sculpture stands out as a masterpiece of ancient roman sculptures and it's critical to the history of classical art. It is currently located in Rome, Italy, at the Vatican Museums.
13. Terracotta Army (Year: C. 210-209 BC)
This sculpture is composed of 8,000 life-sized sculptures of terracotta soldiers, horses, and chariots buried alongside Qin Shi Huang, the 1st emperor of China, for protection in the afterlife.
The Terracotta Army was established in the late 3rd century BC. The sculpture is in the Mausoleum of the 1st Qin Emperor in Xian, China.
Sculptures have been pivotal throughout art history and remain an important form of self-expression for contemporary artists. Throughout history, people have used sculpture to express a wide range of ideas, feelings, and narratives.