I wasn’t quite sure what to call this best-of list, since it includes art hosted on online forums, commercial sites, museum sites, online galleries, and a portfolio site as well. I went with “25 Best Art Gallery Sites,” though that’s not quite accurate. Basically, what I’ve assembled here is a list of the 25 best sites for finding great artwork, both the traditional and the digital kinds. The amount of quality artwork available for viewing online is just staggering. The Art Renewal Center alone has over 60,000 paintings and drawings on its site. Then there’s the Smithsonian, the Royal Collection, the National Museum of American Illustration…there’s a lot of art here. You might want to bookmark this page for future reference.
If you know of a site that should be here, but isn’t, by all means please leave a link in the comment section at the bottom. Thanks! Happy gallery hopping!
This is the site for studying the work of Johannes Vermeer. Every work by the master is here, along with information about the time period and the artist. High-resolution images. A beautifully-designed site.
The National Museum of American Illustration, whose collection is housed in a Gilded Age mansion in Newport, RI, hosts this site showcasing illustrators of the “Golden Age of Illustration.” The online samples are small and few in number, but it’s a good place to get started learning about N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, and other greats of the period.
The Fantasy Fine Art gallery is traditional fantasy art by some two dozen artists, including Frank Frazetta, the Hildebrandt brothers, and Steven Stahlberg.
Olga’s Gallery hosts over 10,000 paintings, arranged alphabetically, by country, and by art movement. A simple site focused on presenting art (and some ads).
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a large number of online exhibitions. Click on the logo, left, to check it out. The Luce Foundation Center for American Art page also has links to online artwork.
The Museum Syndicate site hosts over 28,000 works by 740 artists, and the numbers continue to grow. You can browse by artist, country, museum, or by a list of tags.
The Salmagundi Club, in New York City, has been around since 1871. They hold many exhibitions each year. Click on the logo, left, to go to a page with several dozen exhibition links.
The Athenaeum site hosts over 40,000 browsable works of art. Click on the image, left, to go to the full list. You can sort the list by artist name or artwork title.
Stroke of Genius is a commercial site that features working professional portrait artists (traditional media only). The quality here is second to none. A great place to study portraiture.
As a painting medium, egg tempera predates oil painting. This site hosts works by members of the Society of Tempera Painters.
The Colored Pencil Society of America site has galleries showing works from past exhibitions. If you’ve never seen what colored pencil can do, this site will surprise you.
Jason Godbey is a brilliant young artist working in the digital realm. His architectural scenes are both complex and serene at the same time. A master of mood and light.
While you’ll find great artwork all over the forums at the CG Society site, the cream of the crop is here, at the CG Choice Awards galleries. Digital masterworks, divided up by 2D and 3D.
As with the CG Society site, Epilogue has an overwhelming amount of work to sort through, so again I’ve provided a link to the Editor’s Choice listing. Fantasy and science fiction only.
CG Gallery is very similar to CG Society, both in name and concept. There is a lot of work here, broken down by various tags (Photoshop, Painter, Cinema 4d, etc.). You could get lost for days here.
Art Squared is the new kid on the block, and they seem to be headed for great things. Less than a year old, the site creators have already published a Ballistic-style gallery book filled with submitted artworks. A second book is still open for entries (until October 31, 2009).
Check this site out for some of the best 3D still images anywhere. Raph.com has a large jury (all men, I notice) that must approve a piece before it goes up on the site. The result is very high quality.
Digital Art is another juried site, though in this case I believe it’s only one or two people doing the jurying. Because it’s not a free-for-all, like deviantArt, the quality here is pretty high.
Concept Art is much like CG Society, with one difference: there’s no easy way to find the best work. Even the “best of” page is covered with hundreds of icons (literally), each pointing to an artist’s work. Kudos for trying to give everyone equal exposure, I suppose.
3D total is another juried site, and the work here is just superb. You can browse by several different categories. The emphasis is definitely on quality over quantity. Highly recommended.
3DM3.com was started up in 2001, with a focus on 3D, but some 2D as well. There is a rating system that allows the best work to float to the top. Check out the “best of” listings.
We finish up our list of 25 online galleries with The Waichulis Studio, an atelier in Northeastern Pennsylvania. There’s some nearly superhuman rendering going on up near Scranton. Check it out, and be amazed. Trompe l’oeil lives!