Free Art History Coloring Pages

On each of the following pages, you will find an image of one famous work of art to open, save and print for coloring, as well accompanying information on its artist, date of execution, original media, and dimensions, current holding institution and a bit of background.

It sounds like a lot to digest, doesn't it? Well, it's not. It's what you make of it, or allow others to make of it. Skip the historic information if it's not fully age-appropriate. All I'd beg you to remember is that these are meant to be enjoyable, hands-on learning tools, not the sorts of things we used to subject to class critiques in art school. Whether you print these out for yourself, your children or your students, keep in mind that history's greatest artists found their own paths, and let freedom of expression run its unique course.
Have fun (and please do read the copyright info).

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Mona Lisa Coloring Page

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa to Print and Color Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519). Mona Lisa (La Gioconda), ca. 1503-05.
Coloring page © 2008 Margaret Esaak
  • Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Title: Mona Lisa (La Gioconda)
  • Created: Around 1503-05
  • Medium: Oil paint on poplar wooden panel
  • Dimensions of original work: 77 x 53 cm (30 3/8 x 20 7/8 in.)
  • Where to see it: Musée du Louvre, Paris

Leonardo's portrait of Lisa del Gioconda is arguably the most easily recognized painting on Planet Earth. Though it now enjoys superstar status, it sprang from more modest beginnings: Lisa's husband Francesco, a Florentine merchant, commissioned it to celebrate the birth of the couple's second son and decorate a wall of their new house.

It never graced the Giocondo house, though. Leonardo kept the portrait with him until he died in 1519, after which it passed to his assistant and heir Salai. Salai's heirs, in turn, sold it to King François I of France, and it has remained a national treasure of that country's ever since. Many thousands of visitors view Mona Lisa each day that the Musée du Louvre is open, spending an estimated 15 seconds apiece before it. Surely longer contemplation is indicated.

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Sleeping Gypsy Coloring Page

Henri Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy to Print and Color Henri Rousseau (French, 1844-1910). The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897.
Coloring page © 2008 Margaret Esaak
  • Artist: Henri Rousseau
  • Title: Sleeping Gypsy
  • Created: 1897
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions of original work: 51 x 79 in. (129.5 x 200.7 cm)
  • Where to see it: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Sleeping Gypsy reveals many of Henri Rousseau's gifts, not least of which was his vivid imagination. He never saw a desert or a real lion outside of the zoo, yet created a charming scene containing both and the sleeping title character.
He was very talented at composition, although, at the time, his hard lines and flattish perspectives were often ridiculed.

He also paid huge attention to details. Here the lion's hair was painstakingly painted one strand at a time, while the stripes of the gypsy's robe and strings on the mandolin were laid in just as meticulously.

Perhaps Rousseau's greatest gift was his conviction that he deserved to be called an artist. Despite what anyone else thought or said of his work--and most of these things were negative--he believed he could make great art. Time says he did, and that is a lesson for us all.

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Starry Night Coloring Page

Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night to Print and Color Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890). The Starry Night, 1889.
Coloring page © 2009 Margaret Esaak
  • Artist: Vincent van Gogh
  • Title: The Starry Night
  • Created: 1889
  • Medium: Oil paint on canvas
  • Dimensions of original work: 29 x 36 1/4 in. (73.7 x 92.1 cm)
  • Where to see it: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Vincent executed this world-famous painting from memory while staying at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole (a mental institution near Saint-Rémy) in June of 1889. He had voluntarily admitted himself just a month earlier and, at this time, was not permitted to paint outside. He could, though, look through the window in his room, as he did for this canvas.

We love to associate this painting with Vincent's innermost spirit. The cypress tree, hills and church spire connect us to the heavens where stars and the planet Venus swirl across a moon-dominated night sky. They are eternal, just as the human soul is supposed to be. People have speculated that the "violence" of his brushstrokes reflects Vincent's tormented, hospitalized mind. I like to think that he simply saw the Big Picture, and quickly created something so permanent that we would all see it, too.

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Sunflowers Coloring Page

Vincent van Gogh's Vase with 12 Sunflowers to Print and Color Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890). Sunflowers (Vase with 12 Sunflowers), 1888.
Coloring page © 2008 Margaret Esaak
  • Artist: Vincent van Gogh
  • Title: Sunflowers (Vase with 12 Sunflowers)
  • Created: 1888
  • Medium: Oil paint on canvas
  • Dimensions of original work: 92 × 73 cm (36 1/4 x 28 3/4 in.)
  • Where to see it: Neue Pinakothek, Munich

Already a fan of sunflowers, Vincent was surely happy to see them growing abundantly in Arles, France, where he had moved to in February of 1888. He did at least three versions of 12 Sunflowers and two of 15 Sunflowers during his months in Arles, and originally used some of these canvases to decorate Paul Gauguin's bedroom in the house and studio space they (briefly) shared.

Remember that manufactured tubes of paint were a relatively new invention in Vincent's time, and sunflowers fade quickly. Imagine! If he'd had to stop to mix colors, rather than squeezing great blobs of chromium yellow or cadmium red onto his palette (or, indeed, straight to the canvas), the urgent vibrancy of his Sunflowers series might not be all that it is.

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American Gothic Coloring Page

Grant Wood's American Gothic to Print and Color Grant Wood (American, 1891-1942). American Gothic, 1930.
Coloring page © 2008 Margaret Esaak
  • Artist: Grant Wood
  • Title: American Gothic
  • Created: 1930
  • Medium: Oil on beaverboard
  • Dimensions of original work: 29 1/4 x 24 1/2 in. (74.3 x 62.4 cm)
  • Where to see it: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • About this Work:

American Gothic was meant to depict an anonymous farmer (with no apparent sense of humor) and his daughter. They are standing in front of an Iowan farmhouse built in the Carpenter Gothic style that Sears, Roebuck, and Co. used to sell as kits, hence the "Gothic" part of the title.

The models for this painting were Grant Wood's sister, Nan (1900-1990), and the local dentist Dr. Byron H. McKeeby (1867-1950). Wood, however, successfully blurred their age difference to the point that I, for one, though they were supposed to represent a married couple until taking art history classes in college.
For U.S. citizens, American Gothic is our Mona Lisa. The painting is both recognized around the world and the subject of numerous parodies. Unlike the Mona Lisa's imaginary background, though, anyone can visit this farmhouse.

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Do-It-Yourself Marilyn Monroe Coloring Page

Make Your Own Marilyn Series (Andy Warhol Did!) Do-It-Yourself Marilyn

Coloring page © 2008 Margaret Esaak

A few days after actress Marilyn Monroe committed suicide in 1962, Andy Warhol stumbled across a publicity still of Monroe in a second-hand store. The original image had been shot by an unnamed 20th Century Fox Studios photographer for the 1953 thriller feature film Niagara, and was a half-length portrait that displayed Miss Monroe's considerable charms in a halter top.

Warhol bought the photographic copy, then cropped, enlarged and reproduced it on eight canvases via the silk screening process. On each of these eight canvases, he over-painted a completely different color scheme in acrylics. These (now world famous) Marilyns formed the nucleus of Warhol's first ever solo New York exhibition and, along with Elvis Presley, dollar bills and a certain brand of soup's cans, launched his Pop Art career.

As you can see with Lemon Marilyn (1962), there is no wrong way to go when choosing your own color scheme. In fact, Warhol revisited his Marilyn Series several times over the next 20 years and made some rather curious choices of his own (think: pumpkin, black-brown and lime green). One is left supposing that your Do-It-Yourself Marilyn could be a pirate or a ninja, wear a fright wig or undergo the star treatment with some glitter, sequins and, possibly, a few glued-on feathers.

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Friendly Words of Advice

Printable coloring pages are provided here for three reasons:

  • To help kinesthetic and visual learners enjoy studying art history.
  • To aid educators, parents, and caregivers in providing learning activities.
  • For pleasure.

Please take the third reason to heart if you are working with young artists, and do not correct their work. Creativity is a fragile bud that needs to be nurtured unconditionally, not bent to an adult's ideals.

How to Save and Print

Click on the image above. It will open in a new window. Use the "+" magnifying glass icon to enlarge the image to full size, then right-click and "Save" to your system. You will now have a jpeg on which to use your print function. Please pay attention to your printer's dialog box and be sure to select "Fit to page" and "Landscape" or "Portrait" settings whenever applicable, as these drawings have been optimized for such.
Terms of use:

You are free to save and print the above image for personal, educational, non-commercial purposes only. You agree not to republish, retransmit, redistribute, rebroadcast, sell the work on this page or otherwise scrape, steal or "borrow" it for your blog/website without express written permission.

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Your Citation
Esaak, Shelley. "Free Art History Coloring Pages." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Esaak, Shelley. (2023, April 5). Free Art History Coloring Pages. Retrieved from Esaak, Shelley. "Free Art History Coloring Pages." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).