The World's Greatest Paintings

Season 1
 (3)
2020TV-PG
The broadcaster and journalist Andrew Marr examines the stories behind some of the most famous works of art ever devised. Why were these pieces created and what makes them, in particular, so eternally fascinating? How much did the lives of the artists, and the society and environment they worked in, influence the paintings? Get ready to see truly iconic images in a whole new light.
Starring
Andrew Marr
Genres
HistoricalDocumentaryArts, Entertainment, and CultureSpecial Interest
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English

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  1. 1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci
    June 4, 2020
    44min
    TV-G
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Is it possible for a work of art to be too iconic? That an image is so ubiquitous that it fails to have an impact? If that claim could be made of any painting, then surely it must be Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. But the story behind the work is fascinating, involving radical artistic experimentation, gruesome dissections and one of the most audacious art thefts of the 20th Century.
  2. 2. Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh
    June 12, 2020
    43min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    The story behind one of the planet’s most iconic images is soaked in madness, tragedy and heartbreak. Van Gogh’s glorious Sunflowers appear to be an enthusiastic tribute to the wonders of nature and the power of life itself. But the truth is far darker. What torment was the artist, who took his own life soon after the painting’s completion, trying to express with this remarkable image?
  3. 3. The Fighting Temeraire by JMW Turner
    June 19, 2020
    44min
    TV-G
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    This 1838 work by JMW Turner was known as ‘my darling’ by the British artist who refused to part with it, despite being offered huge sums of money. It was also voted the British nation’s favorite painting of all time. So what makes this picture of a ship from the Battle of Trafalgar being towed to the breaker’s yard such a potent image and what role did it play in the painter’s life?
  4. 4. Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso
    June 5, 2020
    43min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    The work, and image, of few artists is so instantly recognizable as Picasso. But what is it about this man that makes his creations so distinctive? Andrew Marr delves into the story behind his harrowing 1937 'barbed-wire face-mask’ painting, Weeping Woman, inspired by one of the most heinous war-crimes in history and shot through with the complicated nature of his relationship with women.
  5. 5. Waterlilies by Claude Monet
    June 10, 2021
    43min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    One of the most famous associations in the entire history of art is between Claude Monet and waterlilies. He painted them hundreds of times during the final part of his life. But why was he so obsessed with this singular image? The true tale behind this serene vision of delicate nature reveals deeply personal tragedies, a brutal war and a tormented man with an insatiable passion.
  6. 6. The Hay Wain by John Constable
    June 17, 2021
    44min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    At first glance it appears to be a scene of bucolic splendor. But John Constable’s Hay Wain has hidden, radical depths. Now considered one of the most beloved English paintings of all time, it was shunned initially and first found fame in France where it inspired a plethora of young artists. But how is this seemingly serene countryside scene seething with non-conformity?
  7. 7. The Rokeby Venus by Diego Velazquez
    June 5, 2020
    43min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Seen as a paradigm of female beauty, Velazquez's only nude is considered one of the most erotically charged paintings of any age. In a time when such works were rare, due to the influence of the Inquisition, the painting adorned the secret sin-filled salons of the Spanish elite. But why is it considered so controversial and what drove one woman to attack it with a meat cleaver?
  8. 8. The Night Watch by Rembrandt Van Rijn
    June 5, 2020
    44min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    Nowadays, Rembrandt is considered one of the most masterful painters who ever lived. But after a glittering start to his career, he was buried in a pauper’s grave and largely forgotten with his style considered painfully outmoded. How did this great man descend so rapidly, from the heights of his finest, gargantuan work The Night Watch, to the tragedies of poverty and obsolescence?
  9. 9. Ophelia by John Everett Millais
    June 5, 2020
    43min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    It’s one of the most arresting and intriguing visions ever committed to canvas. But the story of John Everett Millais’s Ophelia is as dramatic as the Shakespeare heroine portrayed in the picture. This haunting image was once the centerpiece of a radical artistic movement and dismissed by some critics, but is now beloved globally. But how is grave robbing connected to the painting?
  10. 10. The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
    June 5, 2020
    44min
    TV-PG
    Subtitles
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    English
    It's a painting so magical that grown men have been said to faint while standing in front of it. The story behind Botticelli's The Birth of Venus is one of a tubby artist and a 15th Century traffic-stopping beauty played out against a backdrop of mind-boggling wealth and religious fanaticism. But over 500 years since its creation, why is this work still so mysterious and compelling?

More details

Directors
Joss CubittSimon Smith
Producers
Ollie TaitRachel Ozers
Season year
2020
Network
Lambent Productions
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

3 global ratings

  1. 36% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 32% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 0% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 32% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 0% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

SGRReviewed in the United States on July 19, 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
No women artists featured
It's a nicely presented series, however, absolutely no women artists? Narrator's premise is that he is not political, just as art lover, is pretty tone deaf considering not a single woman artist is included. Also, the idea that certain art pieces resonate around the world is because that is all people are shown. Many are just rammed into people's consciousness and kept there. Check your privilege BBC, in its way, this is another series that borders on disgraceful.
2 people found this helpful
Paul GReviewed in the United States on July 21, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good overview of well known paintings
I found the series to be entertaining and educational. Learning more of the background of these well known paintings makes me much more interested in seeing them. Admittedly the title of the series is a bit pompous. Perhaps it could have been called "my favorite paintings." The omission of female artists is obvious and a little jarring. The series is also very Eurocentric. Then again, the kind of painting that is the scope of the show (oil on canvas, watercolor, techniques of perspective, impressionism) is European, and that's where this kind of art is going to come from.

The program does not take upon itself to explore why much of the work in the world's art museums is by European men. Maybe it should. I'm fine if that's the subject of another show though.
2 people found this helpful
T. WilsonReviewed in the United States on December 14, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great information
Great
One person found this helpful
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