The Most Famous

ARTISTS from United Kingdom

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This page contains a list of the greatest British Artists. The pantheon dataset contains 77 Artists, 7 of which were born in United Kingdom. This makes United Kingdom the birth place of the 3rd most number of Artists behind United States and Germany.

Top 7

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the most legendary British Artists of all time. This list of famous British Artists is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity.

Photo of Banksy

1. Banksy (1970 - )

With an HPI of 72.91, Banksy is the most famous British Artist.  His biography has been translated into 55 different languages on wikipedia.

Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based street artist, political activist and film director whose real name and identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of speculation. Active since the 1990s, his satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have appeared on streets, walls and bridges throughout the world. Banksy's work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy says that he was inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist and founding member of the musical group Massive Attack.Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls and self-built physical prop pieces. Banksy no longer sells photographs or reproductions of his street graffiti, but his public "installations" are regularly resold, often even by removing the wall they were painted on. Much of his work can be classified as temporary art. A small number of Banksy's works are officially, non-publicly, sold through an agency created by Banksy named Pest Control. Banksy's documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for the film. In 2014, he was awarded Person of the Year at the 2014 Webby Awards.

Photo of David Hockney

2. David Hockney (1937 - )

With an HPI of 72.07, David Hockney is the 2nd most famous British Artist.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

David Hockney (born 9 July 1937) is an English painter, draftsman, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer. As an important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.Hockney has owned residences and studios in Bridlington, London and Normandy, as well as two residences in California, where he has lived intermittently since 1964: one in the Hollywood Hills, one in Malibu, and an office and archives on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.On 15 November 2018, Hockney's 1972 work Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold at Christie's auction house in New York City for $90 million (£70 million), becoming the most expensive artwork by a living artist sold at auction. This broke the previous record, set by the 2013 sale of Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog (Orange) for $58.4 million. Hockney held this record until 15 May 2019 when Koons reclaimed the honour selling his Rabbit for more than $91 million at Christie's in New York.

Photo of Edward Burne-Jones

3. Edward Burne-Jones (1833 - 1898)

With an HPI of 69.63, Edward Burne-Jones is the 3rd most famous British Artist.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet, (; 28 August 1833 – 17 June 1898) was a British artist and designer associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked with William Morris on decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Burne-Jones was involved in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art in Britain; his works include windows in St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham, St Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square, Chelsea, St Peter and St Paul parish church in Cromer, St Martin's Church in Brampton, Cumbria (the church designed by Philip Webb), St Michael's Church, Brighton, Trinity Church in Frome, All Saints, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, St Edmund Hall, and Christ Church, two colleges of the University of Oxford. His stained glass works also feature in St Anne's Church, Brown Edge, Staffordshire Moorlands, and St Edward the Confessor church at Cheddleton Staffordshire. Burne-Jones's early paintings show the inspiration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but by the 1860s Burne-Jones was discovering his own artistic "voice". In 1877, he was persuaded to show eight oil paintings at the Grosvenor Gallery (a new rival to the Royal Academy). These included The Beguiling of Merlin. The timing was right and he was taken up as a herald and star of the new Aesthetic Movement. Burne-Jones worked in crafts; including designing ceramic tiles, jewellery, tapestries, and mosaics.

Photo of William Etty

4. William Etty (1787 - 1849)

With an HPI of 64.65, William Etty is the 4th most famous British Artist.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

William Etty (10 March 1787 – 13 November 1849) was an English artist best known for his history paintings containing nude figures. He was the first significant British painter of nudes and still lifes. Born in York, he left school at the age of 12 to become an apprentice printer in Hull. He completed his apprenticeship seven years later and moved to London, where in 1807 he joined the Royal Academy Schools. There he studied under Thomas Lawrence and trained by copying works by other artists. Etty earned respect at the Royal Academy of Arts for his ability to paint realistic flesh tones, but had little commercial or critical success in his first few years in London. Etty's Cleopatra's Arrival in Cilicia, painted in 1821, featured numerous nudes and was exhibited to great acclaim. Its success prompted several further depictions of historical scenes with nudes. All but one of the works he exhibited at the Royal Academy in the 1820s contained at least one nude figure, and he acquired a reputation for indecency. Despite this, he was commercially successful and critically acclaimed, and in 1828 was elected a Royal Academician, at the time the highest honour available to an artist. Although he was one of the most respected artists in the country he continued to study at life classes throughout his life, a practice considered inappropriate by his fellow artists. In the 1830s Etty began to branch out into the more lucrative but less respected field of portraiture, and later became the first English painter to paint significant still lifes. He continued to paint both male and female nudes, which caused severe criticism and condemnation from some elements of the press. An extremely shy man, Etty rarely socialised and never married. From 1824 until his death he lived with his niece Betsy (Elizabeth Etty). Even in London he retained a keen interest in his native York, and was instrumental in the establishment of the town's first art school and the campaign to preserve York city walls. While he never formally converted from his Methodist faith, he was deeply attached to the Roman Catholic Church and was one of the few non-Catholics to attend the 1838 opening of Augustus Pugin's chapel for St Mary's College, Oscott, at that time England's most important Roman Catholic building. Etty was prolific and commercially successful throughout the 1840s, but the quality of his work deteriorated throughout this period. As his health progressively worsened he retired to York in 1848. He died in 1849, shortly after a major retrospective exhibition. In the immediate aftermath of his death his works became highly collectable and sold for large sums. Changing tastes meant his work later fell out of fashion, and imitators soon abandoned his style. By the end of the 19th century the value of all of his works had fallen below their original prices, and outside his native York he remained little known throughout the 20th century. Etty's inclusion in Tate Britain's landmark Exposed: The Victorian Nude exhibition in 2001–02, the high-profile restoration of his The Sirens and Ulysses in 2010 and a major retrospective of his work at the York Art Gallery in 2011–12 led to renewed interest in his work.

Photo of Damien Hirst

5. Damien Hirst (1965 - )

With an HPI of 63.28, Damien Hirst is the 5th most famous British Artist.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Damien Steven Hirst (; né Brennan; born 7 June 1965) is an English artist, entrepreneur, and art collector. He is one of the Young British Artists (YBAs) who dominated the art scene in the UK during the 1990s. He is reportedly the United Kingdom's richest living artist, with his wealth estimated at $384 million in the 2020 Sunday Times Rich List. During the 1990s his career was closely linked with the collector Charles Saatchi, but increasing frictions came to a head in 2003 and the relationship ended.Death is a central theme in Hirst's works. He became famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved, sometimes having been dissected, in formaldehyde. The best-known of these was The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a 14-foot (4.3 m) tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde in a clear display case. He has also made "spin paintings", created on a spinning circular surface, and "spot paintings", which are rows of randomly coloured circles created by his assistants.In September 2008, Hirst made an unprecedented move for a living artist by selling a complete show, Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, at Sotheby's by auction and bypassing his long-standing galleries. The auction raised £111 million ($198 million), breaking the record for a one-artist auction as well as Hirst's own record with £10.3 million for The Golden Calf, an animal with 18-carat gold horns and hooves, preserved in formaldehyde.In several instances since 1999, Hirst's works have been challenged and contested as plagiarised. In one instance, after his sculpture Hymn was found to be closely based on a child's toy, legal proceedings led to an out-of-court settlement.

Photo of Eric Gill

6. Eric Gill (1882 - 1940)

With an HPI of 57.38, Eric Gill is the 6th most famous British Artist.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Arthur Eric Rowton Gill (; 22 February 1882 – 17 November 1940) was an English sculptor, typeface designer, and printmaker, who was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. His religious views and subject matter contrast with his deviant sexual behaviour, including (as described in his own diaries) his sexual abuse of his daughters, sisters, and dog.Gill was named a Royal Designer for Industry. He was an Associate of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Photo of John Butler Yeats

7. John Butler Yeats (1839 - 1922)

With an HPI of 54.41, John Butler Yeats is the 7th most famous British Artist.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

John Butler Yeats (16 March 1839 – 3 February 1922) was an Irish artist and the father of W. B. Yeats, Lily Yeats, Elizabeth Corbett "Lolly" Yeats and Jack Butler Yeats. The National Gallery of Ireland holds a number of his portraits in oil and works on paper, including one of his portraits of his son William, painted in 1900. His portrait of John O'Leary (1904) is considered his masterpiece (Raymond Keaveney 2002).

Pantheon has 7 people classified as artists born between 1787 and 1970. Of these 7, 3 (42.86%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living artists include Banksy, David Hockney, and Damien Hirst. The most famous deceased artists include Edward Burne-Jones, William Etty, and Eric Gill. As of October 2020, 1 new artists have been added to Pantheon including John Butler Yeats.

Living Artists

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Deceased Artists

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Newly Added Artists (2020)

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Which Artists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 4 most globally memorable Artists since 1700.