6 Famous Paintings About Emotions That Will Make You Cry

Famous Paintings About Emotions That Will Make You Cry

Most of us have cried watching a sad movie or have become overwhelmed with intense emotions while at a concert. But have you ever cried looking at a painting? Sounds unusual, right? Well, there are some famous paintings about emotions that can trigger a deep sense of sadness, happiness or awe.

This intense emotional reaction to works of visual art is often credited to the potential of the sublime – a concept which inspires awe, joy, transcendent emotions and beauty, typically through nature or landscapes.

In 1859, ‘The Angelus,’ an oil painting by French painter Jean-François Millet, is reported to have made viewers cry in front of it. In our modern era, American abstract painter Mark Rothko’s art often brought people to tears. But why? Why do some people cry looking at art, and even while in art galleries?

Let us explore the mystery of some famous paintings about emotions and paintings that make you cry, gain a deeper understanding of what a sublime artwork is and learn about meaningful art that shows emotion.

6 Famous Paintings About Emotions

If you are wondering which famous paintings about emotions will make you teary eyed, then here are a few paintings that make you cry –

1. “The Scream” by Edvard Munch

Undoubtedly one of the most popular and well-known paintings in the world, “The Scream” is considered iconic as it depicts existential angst in a skillful manner. 

In the painting, the figure, with an open mouth in a silent scream, represents the overwhelming anxiety and despair that many feel while living an uncertain life. The painting has a distorted and vividly colorful landscape which adds to the emotional impact of this work making it a terrifying portrayal of human vulnerability.

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2. “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso

Picasso’s Guernica is a powerful response to the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. It shows the horrors of war and all the pain that innocent civilians had to suffer. 

Through its fragmented forms and stark black-and-white palette, Picasso conveys raw emotions such as grief, pain, and outrage. The painting’s monumental scale and chaotic composition enhance its emotional power, making it a lasting symbol that represents the atrocities of war.

3. “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dalí

The Persistence of Memory is regarded as a surrealistic masterpiece that questions our understanding of time and reality. The melting clocks and the dreamlike landscape invokes feelings of introspection, confusion and disorientation.

Dali’s painting invites us to discover the depths of our subconscious mind where we can challenge our deepest emotions, insecurities and fears. It makes us think deeply by exploring the intricacies behind our minds, triggering introspection & contemplation.

4. “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci

This is an extremely touching portrayal of the last meal shared by Jesus with His disciples, right before his crucifixion. Leonardo Da Vinci skillfully used light and shadow, and perfectly matched them with the facial expressions, gestures and body postures of the disciples. 

Da Vinci portrays several feelings like sadness, betrayal & acceptance in the same canvas. In fact, this piece’s religious significance coupled with its emotional weight often moves people to tears. This is surely one of the most famous paintings about emotions.

5. “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer

Vermeer’s enigmatic portrait of a young girl is strikingly beautiful and evokes deep emotions in those who look at it. The gaze of the girl with a pearl earring instills a feeling of longing and curiosity while the subtle use of light on her face invokes a sense of awe and yearning.

The simplicity and silence of this artwork creates a meditative mood where one can project their own feelings and imagination upon the canvas. The deep connection between the viewer and the girl in the painting often causes tears because it captures universal human emotions, desires, innocence, and vulnerability. This is surely among the paintings that make you cry.

6. “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” is perhaps the most well-known, captivating depiction of the night sky on the canvas. It weaves an unexplainable magic that evokes deep emotions in the viewer. His swirling brushstrokes, vibrant colors and evocative composition makes the painting eloquently dynamic and touching.

This painting is emotionally powerful because it artistically reveals the vastness and beauty of the universe, while simultaneously stirring up feelings of loneliness and sadness. 

When viewing this work, we are reminded of how small we are in comparison to all those things around us as indicated by a peaceful night sky juxtaposed with a tiny village. This painting is considered among the most famous paintings about emotions. 

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Sublime Artwork: A Gateway to Emotions

The sublime refers to something of great beauty, grandeur and excellence which inspires profound emotions of awe, beauty & transcendence. The beauty and greatness of the sublime transcends all possible measurement, calculation and even imitation. This state of emotion goes beyond our understanding & emotions and challenges our senses. 

In the world of visual art, sublime artwork is an artistic piece that enables us to experience something bigger and grander than ourselves by going beyond what is ordinary and invoking intense emotional reactions. 

Paintings that make you cry are mostly famous paintings about emotions that can often make us shed tears by making us deeply emotional. These paintings often portray human experiences, beauty and grandeur in a way that overwhelms us.

These profound emotions can vary from immense happiness and awe to deep introspection and even sadness. However, this sadness is typically accompanied by vulnerability and a feeling of wonder.

The Hidden Depths of Meaningful Art That Shows Emotion

Meaningful art that shows emotion refers to creative visual artworks and paintings where artists masterfully utilize symbolism, composition, imagery and color to express their innermost thoughts and deeply connect with their audience.

Such profound pieces of art highlight universal human emotions and explore the deepest corners of the human experience. This is why such paintings trigger strong emotional reactions from us. Meaningful art that shows emotion possesses the magical ability to easily express complex human emotions through subtle colors, imagery and composition. 

Expert artists are skilled at using various elements like subject matter, perspective, light and shadows and color to create a powerful image that leaves a deep and lasting impression on us. For instance, a painting of a vibrant and peaceful sunset by the sea can make the audience experience tranquility, inner peace and introspection. 

Several artists also use symbolism in their artworks to convey personal, social or cultural messages that can be deeply relatable with viewers. For example, a man standing alone on the edge of a cliff can symbolize both loneliness and solitude and depends on each individual audience on how they will perceive it. Regardless, such a symbolism can undoubtedly foster a deep empathetic response.

This is how the depiction of universal human emotions and experiences make painting even deeper and more poignant. When our deepest emotions like happiness, sorrow, grief or loneliness are presented through colorful brushstrokes, we can’t help but get emotional about it. 

When we see our own emotions and experiences pop up on the canvas through the dance of vibrant and diverse colors, we can’t help but shed tears while looking at famous paintings about emotions.

Related: 6 Reasons Why People Who Cry Are Mentally Stronger and Physically Healthier Says Studies

Why Does Looking at a Painting Make You Cry?

There may be several reasons why someone may feel overwhelmed, experience deep emotions and cry while looking at a work of art. Here are some of the major reasons –

1. Art Evokes Emotions

An artist creates a piece of artwork by pouring their heart and soul into it. Every piece of art has been created with deep emotions, thoughts and creativity. No wonder, some of us feel deep emotions when looking at paintings in galleries as we can relate to and resonate with the emotions and experiences depicted in the artwork by the artist. This is especially true for individuals who have a strong sense of empathy. 

Art connects with us on a deep emotional level which makes us overlook rationality and logic. It is not restricted by language and it directly connects to our subconscious mind and our deepest emotions.

Hence, the visuals of paintings that make you cry, especially the symbolic elements, can invoke past memories, summon suppressed emotions and boost our empathetic connection. This can undoubtedly make us teary eyed. 

2. Art Validates Our Emotions

Have you ever realized that artworks and paintings can often validate and reassure your feelings? This is one of the main reasons why we may cry while looking at a painting or when watching a movie.

Often, art perfectly captures the essence of certain emotions that we have experienced in our life and reflects it back to us. When we find a piece of art that we can relate with, it can validate those feelings and the experience can be highly cathartic.

Such paintings can help us realize that we are not alone in our joys and sorrows. And this creates a safe space for us to release our emotions and reflect.

3. Art Transforms Emotions

Art can make a happy person melancholic and turn a sad individual ecstatic. Paintings that make you cry can take you to a new and different emotional dimension through its aesthetic and visuals. 

It can make us completely immerse into the creative expression by transporting us to a different age, location and even state of being. As we become deeply immersed in the art and connect with the visuals & narrative, deep emotional responses are triggered which can make us cry.

Is It Normal to Cry at Art?

When you look at a sublime artwork, you are bound to feel intense emotions and may even shed a few tears as art can easily tap into our emotions. Hence, it is absolutely normal and natural to cry when looking at sublime pieces of artwork. 

It is a testament of how deeply art can affect us and our emotions and how closely we are all connected together. So if you tend to cry at famous paintings about emotions, then it is not only perfectly normal, it should actually be celebrated. 

In its basic form, art has been one of the purest forms of emotional expression throughout human history. It allows us to feel and understand complex emotions that we often keep suppressed. 

Crying at art is a sign that you are empathic and feel a deep emotional connection with the piece of art. It shows that you are human with an incorruptible heart and a soul.

Related: 5 Traits Of An Emotionally Intense Person: Are You One?


Art is powerful. It can not only make us cry, but it can also inspire us and transform our entire life. Whether through colors, symbolism, composition or universal human experiences, famous paintings about emotions resonate with us in a deep sense and trigger deep emotions. 

Sublime art enables us to connect with something greater than ourselves. So, if you find yourself crying in the presence of a great work of art, embrace your emotions and the experience. It will be one of the purest moments of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What is emotional painting called? 

Emotional painting is generally known as expressionism, which highlights the emotions and feelings of the artist through vivid & subjective imagery.

What is it called when art makes you cry? 

Art that makes you cry is often considered emotionally evocative or poignant, which evokes strong emotional reactions. In psychology, it is identified as Stendhal syndrome. 

What is the saddest painting in the world?

“The Scream” by Edvard Munch is regarded as one of the saddest paintings worldwide, expressing existential anguish and despair.

paintings that make you cry

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