Tracing the finely crafted structures with your eyes, almost feeling the cool embrace of the marble on your fingertips – nothing screams the art of finesse quite like sculptures. These artful architects create structures that embody countless hours trapped within the confines of art pieces, leaving traces of its brilliance for generations to enjoy. 

Ready to dive into the most significant sculptures in history? We’ll take you through a journey of the various famous sculptures of the world and how they came to be.

The most famous sculptures in the world
The most famous sculptures in the world

Top Awe-Inspiring Sculptures of the World

From ancient Greece to modern-day Chicago, these man-made art structures find their roots in various walks of life. Listed below are some of the most iconic cut, cast and chiselled sculptures to fall in love with:

15. Venus of Willendorf (Unknown)

Also known as the Nude Woman, this figurine is estimated to date back between 28 000- 25 000 BCE. The 11.1 centimetre high sculpture was found in Willendorf, Austria in 1908.

While most of its origin and purpose is cloaked in mystery, the statue is constructed out of oolitic limestone and depicts a faceless female form. This unique sculpture can be viewed at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria.

The Venus of Willendorf statue
The Venus of Willendorf statue

14. Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (Umberto Boccioni)

Moving towards a more contemporary art style, this Italian Futurist-style sculpture was created in 1913. The bronze artwork embodies a striding figure and captures the Italian industrialization movement with the immersion of art and motion.

See casts of this modern sculpture at MoMa and The Met Museum in New York, as well as Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de la Universidad de São Paulo in Brazil.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space sculpture
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space sculpture

13. The Little Mermaid (Edvard Eriksen)

A fair girl cast in bronze, lovingly gazing at the sea on a rock – The Little Mermaid statue is an enchanting spectacle. Inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, this sculpture has been one of the prized sculptures of Copenhagen, Denmark since 1913.

A gift from Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg Breweries to the city of Copenhagen, this four feet tall statue can be found on the Langelinie promenade. The Little Mermaid sculpture is actually a copy of the original statue, which is kept in an undisclosed location by its owners.

In addition, there are actually 14 copies of the Little Mermaid around the world, including in Brazil, Romania and the USA.

The Little Mermaid bronze sculpture by Edvard Eriksen
The Little Mermaid bronze sculpture by Edvard Eriksen

12. David (Michelangelo Buonarroti)

Renowned for capturing the contours and intricate crevices of mankind, the statue of David is a masterful triumph like no other. Michelangelo’s David depicts the well-known biblical story of David and Goliath. 

The standing figure of David highlights the immense detail from the statue, from the chiseled abdominals to his seemingly pulsing veins. At 17 feet tall, David is almost three times the size of an average man.

Interestingly, David’s right hand is larger than his left hand. This is thought to be a deliberate nod to David’s nickname of manu fortis, meaning strong of hand.

You can see this imposing sculpture at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.

David of Michelangelo statue at Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze
David of Michelangelo statue at Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze

11. The Apollo Belvedere (after Leochares)

Nestled within the famous Vatican Museum in Rome, this marbled marvel was discovered in the 15th century. The masterpiece of the Renaissance period depicts the Greek god Apollo, the god of archery, poetry, and much more.

However, this famous sculpture is estimated to be a mere marble copy of a statue created by the Greek sculptor Leochares, originally made out of bronze.

The Apollo Belvedere statue in the Vatican Museum
The Apollo Belvedere statue in the Vatican Museums

10. Lincoln Memorial (Daniel Chester French)

A staple patriotic symbol of the USA, the Lincoln Memorial is located in Washington, DC. The statue of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was constructed in honor of this great leader.

This 19-foot statue of Lincoln is an immense structure that was unveiled in 1922. It  depicts Lincoln sitting in a large chair with a stoic yet determined expression. 

Lincoln Memorial in the National Mall, Washington DC
Lincoln Memorial in the National Mall, Washington DC

9. The Gates of Hell (Auguste Rodin)

This artwork by French sculptor Auguste Rodin showcases phenomenal figures intertwined on a gate. The portal is inspired by Dante’s Inferno in the poem “The Divine Comedy”.

The bronze gate depicts seemingly distressed figures doomed to be stuck to the gate for eternity. With over 180 figures, this is an eye-catching sight to behold.

At the top of the gates, you’ll notice The Tree Shades. This sculptural group represent spirits of the dead. Directly below is The Thinker, originally named The Poet.

Although the monument was never cast in bronze during Rodin’s lifetime, you can now see versions of The Gates of Hell around the world. These include the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Rodin Museum in Philapdelphia to The Kunsthaus Zürich, Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, The Cantor Museum in Stanford University and The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

The Gates of Hell sculptural group work
The Gates of Hell sculptural group work

8. The Winged Victory of Samothrace (Unknown)

This intriguing marble sculpture depicts a headless winged figure, represented as Nike, the Greek goddess of victory on the base of a ship. Discovered in fragments in 1863 by Charles Champoiseau on the island of Samothrace in Greece, the magnetism of this piece can still be felt despite it being incomplete.

Given pride of place at the top of the Daru staircase in The Louvre, The Winged Victory is a masterpiece of Greek Hellenic art. Thought to date from around 190 BC, the famous marble statue by an unknown artist has been restored several times.

The winged victory ( Nike) of Samothrace
The winged victory ( Nike) of Samothrace

7. Terracotta Army (Subjects of Qing Shi Huang)

Excavated close to the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, who ruled China in 220 BCE, these sculptures out of terracotta clay are an unbelievable sight. Around 8000 incredibly lifelike statues of soldiers were uncovered near the burial site to protect the emperor beyond the grave.

As well as armored warriors, there are also over 7,000 terracotta horses, chariots and weapons in the mausoleum. Located 26 miles from the city of Xi’an, The Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses is a must-see if you’re visiting China.

The Terracotta Army in Xi'an, China
The Terracotta Army in Xi’an, China

6. Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (Antonio Canova)

This romantic marble statue was constructed between 1787 and 1793. It depicts the Greek myth of Psyche and Cupid. A visual representation of the love story between these characters – Psyche is awakened by a kiss and reaches for Cupid. 

The elegant sculpture epitomizes the Neoclassical focus on love and emotion. There are two versions of this famous statue – one is in the Louvre in Paris, and the other is in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. A full scale model of the second version can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Antonio Canova's statue Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss
Antonio Canova’s statue Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss

5. Cloud Gate (Anish Kapoor)

This masterpiece is often referred to as The Bean. A British artist, Anish Kapoor, constructed this statue in 2004. The striking art installation has quickly become one of the best photography spots in the windy city. It is also one of the biggest permanent art installations situated outdoors.

This silver, sensational structure captures the impressive panoramic view of the city skyline on its reflective surface. It is a great sight to add to a Chicago walking tour

Cloudgate is nicknamed The Bean
Cloud Gate aka The Bean, Chicago

4. Manneken Pis (Jérôme Duquesnoy the Elder)

Located in the epicenter of Brussels, this iconic statue is among the smallest of the bunch and a little bizarre. This bronze statue is of a young boy urinating in a fountain.

One of the most famous statues in the world, the “Peeing Boy” has become an important symbol for the city. There are now other urinating statues in Brussels, including a dog and a young girl.

Fun fact: On special occasions, the city dresses this boyish rebellious figure in costumes. As such, his wardrobe comprises more than 900 suits.

The Manneken Pis is one of the most famous sculptures
The Manneken Pis is one of the most famous sculptures

3. Discus Thrower (Myron)

This famous artwork, also known as Discobolus, was originally cast in bronze and designed by Greek sculptor Myron. The amazing sculpture depicts a male athlete on the cusp of throwing a discus.

Dating from around 460–450 BC, the Discobulus of Myron exudes balance and body symmetry. Unfortunately, the original statue was lost over time.

However, various copies were made in Roman times before its disappearance. You can see one of these at The British Museum in London, UK and another at the Museo Nazionale Romano in Rome, Italy.

Marble statue of the Discus-Thrower
Marble statue of the Discus-Thrower

2. Statue of Liberty (Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi)

When traveling through iconic New York City, it’s hard to miss this mesmerizing statue. It is a symbol for democracy and freedom. The statue was a gift from France as a celebration of their friendship. 

This immense national monument depicts a woman holding a torch and on the other a tablet. The tablet holds the date 07-04-1776, which is the implementation date of the Declaration of Independence in America.

The Statue of Liberty sculpture
The Statue of Liberty sculpture

1. Venus de Milo (Alexandros of Antioch)

Located within the Louvre Museum in Paris, the city of love, this carved marble art piece is rightfully placed. This chiseled beauty is said to represent Aphrodite of Milos, known as the Greek goddess of love and beauty.

Though her missing arms are draped in an essence of mystery, this masterpiece is one of the most recognized sculptures from the classical Greek era.

The Venus de Milo statue
The Venus de Milo statue

Interested in art? Check out these other articles: Best Sculpture Gardens in the World | Best Virtual Art Tours | Most Famous Impressionist Paintings | Most Famous Painters in the World

Final Thoughts on Popular Sculptures in the World

These sculptures do not merely represent phenomenal artists and sculptors but lost and forgotten worlds. The remnants of the pasts enable individuals to glimpse into unimaginable histories. It is a physical link between the past and the present.

If you’re seeking more art inspiration, take a look at the most famous impressionist paintings and Surrealist artists to add to your must-see bucket list.

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Most famous sculptures worldwide
Most famous sculptures worldwide

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2 thoughts on “Famous Sculptures | 15 Sensational Statues of the World”

  1. The photo of the statue depicted as the Little Mermaid doesn’t show the real statue but a rather coarse copy of the original. Easy to check out how the original little mermaid look on Google. Otherwise a fine article.

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