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Top 10 most popular subjects in paintings

Top 10 most popular subjects in paintings

Budding artists often wonder what the most popular subjects are for paintings. Whilst established artists already have their own style, favourite topics and dedicated following, up-and-coming artists who try to make a living may be more influenced by what kind of paintings are most popular.

Art Business Today – on behalf of The Fine Art Trade Guild – conducted a survey with more than 800 galleries in the UK and came up with a top 10 of most popular subjects in paintings. This survey which is the only one of its kind and was done back in 2003, and while consumer sentiment may have shifted slightly, the results are still very relevant today.

The result of the subjects survey

Abstract Art1. Traditional landscapes

There are lots of definitions of a landscape painting, but in its essence a traditional landscape is a depiction of the visible features of an area of land or countryside, of grand vistas. Some of the most popular traditional landscapes are of mountains, hills, and native vegetation.

2. Local views

People love purchasing art that reminds them of a specific place they were at a certain time as it brings back nostalgic feelings:

  • The place where they got engaged
  • A local icon of the area they live in
  • Their honeymoon destination


3. Modern or semi-abstract landscapes

Unlike a traditional landscape that is a depiction of a certain landscape, semi-abstract landscapes are highly stylized and offer a different interpretation of a familiar view. The landscape may still be recognisable but the objects do not resemble those known in the physical nature. Modern landscapes are more focused on intimate scenes, such as forests, cityscapes and creeks.

Abstract Art - ArtChain Global4. Abstracts

Abstract art doesn’t attempt to represent a visual reality but instead focuses on shapes, forms, and colours to make its effect. It moves away from traditional art that represents the world in recognizable images and allows the viewer to interpret each abstract artwork’s meaning in their own way.

Top Painting Subjects Dog5. Dogs

Our domesticated friend is a popular topic for paintings. People often relate to dogs as they’re very social animals and can also read our expressions. There certainly is less art to owning a painting of a dog than having to look after them in real life.

Human Figures ArtChain Global6. Figure studies (excluding nudes)

The human figure is an understandably popular subject for paintings, whether it is a painting of ourselves, of someone we know or of a complete stranger. We can all relate to another human being and the expressions that are shown by an artist can be very realistic.

7. Seascapes, harbour and beach scenes

This is more a sub-category of the landscape category, but one that is very popular amongst tourists. Everyone loves to be taken away by artwork to a magical place they were when they went travelling and had the sun and sea breeze in their faces.

Wildlife Artchain GLobal8. Wildlife

People are intrigued by wildlife as they don’t encounter these animals in their daily life. They often purchase a painting of wildlife after they’ve encountered them on a holiday. Who doesn’t like a cuddly koala, a powerful leopard or a spitting llama?!

9. Impressionistic landscapes

Impressionistic landscapes are painted objectively with the aim to depict a landscape as it is, with the added element of capturing a fleeting moment out in the open air. Some of the most famous impressionistic landscape painters include Claude Monet and Pierre Renoir.

10. Nudes

Nudes have been very popular throughout history. While nudity in public is restricted in most societies, depicting nudity through art has always attracted art buyers. One of the reasons people love nudes is that by removing a subject’s clothes their emotions can be conveyed better.

Once an artist has made up their mind about what topic they want to paint, another question they will undoubtedly have is how to showcase their art. One easy way of getting their art out into the world of acclaimed critics and collectors is by joining a global online art platform.

A great example of an online platform is ArtChain Global. Artists can sign up to use their platform for free at ArtChain Global’s platform is built to enable emerging artists to showcase their art to the world and get discovered by thousands of art collectors. ArtChain Global is built on blockchain technology, which means that once artists upload their art, they have created their legacy as an artist and their art will live long after them in a virtual world.


The main advantages of ArtChain Global‘s platform

  • Artwork is accessible and searchable for everyone in the world to see.
  • There is full transparency around the creation and history of artworks, such as its original upload, sales and ownership, historical sales etc. This will help artists keep track of what’s happening with their artwork post initial sale and it will give prospective art buyers trusted background information about their art, giving them added confidence to buy it.
  • Royalty payments for a resale of their artwork can be automated, so artists keep earning money each time one of their art works is resold on the platform.
  • Artists get rewarded with cryptocurrency, which can be exchanged for real currency, for uploading their art onto the platform or when they upload more information about their art.

So get your pencils and paintbrushes out and pick one of the subjects above that catch a collectors eye.


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