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The Best, The Greatest, The Most Unique

Never a day seems to pass without the media asking us to vote for the greatest, the best and worst of all, the most unique film, tune, footballer etc. etc.. It is always the same, the best, greatest, unique seems to have been famous in the last few years. Memories are short, and most of the voters are young.

Five best paintings?

I happened to be chatting to an artist friend the other day about the feasibility of making a short list of the five best paintings ever! A fatuous notion really, but we kept going knowing full well our choices would be limited to our experience, extensive though it may be. How can one masterpiece be better than another? Can one make objective or subjective comments about the relative qualities of paintings without sinking to art critic gobbledegook. I finally decided to choose five paintings that I have admired the most during my lifetime, sadly none are British.

Botticelli's Birth of Venus

Number one for me will always be Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Whilst at university, I happened upon it by total accident in the Uffizi Museum in Florence on my way back from playing cricket in Corfu. I knew little about art and cared less. After passing many dingy religious paintings confirming my dislike of art, I came to Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. I was literally stunned, I had never seen anything so beautiful and colourful in my life; art has hooked me ever since.

The other four?

The next four are in no particular order. Poussin’s Dance to the Music of Time is freely viewable in the Wallace Collection; Guernica by Picasso, an extraordinary image; Fra Angelico’s Annunciation in the Prado and finally I suppose I have to include Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. No doubt others will have a completely different list, but for good or evil these are my five greatest, best, most unique!

Click here to contact Jonathan Riley, paintings specialist at Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.