Man looks at paintings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, UK.

Step out of the crowd to admire these often overlooked masterpieces at museums around the world.

7 Pieces of Art You Didn’t Know to Look For

While crowds gather around the Mona Lisa and other infamous art works, sneak off to visit these other must-see greats that are often overlooked.

The Mona Lisa, Starry Night, Dalí’s Persistence of Memory – we all need to see these show-stoppers, but visitors can forget that they’re in a museum full of equally beautiful, intriguing artworks. Because of their more famous neighbours hanging nearby, these 7 paintings and art installations are some of the most undeservedly overlooked masterworks in the world.

London: Saint Margaret of Antioch

Francisco de Zurbaran’s Saint Margaret of Antioch. On Display at the National Gallery

Encounter St Margaret’s direct gaze, but take a moment to admire the painter’s attention to detail and the menace of the dragon beneath her feet.

You’re in London, at the National Gallery, and your first port of call – naturally – will be Van Gogh’s iconic Sunflowers, hanging in Room 43. But for one of the gallery’s curators, Francesca Whitlum-Cooper, it’s Francisco de Zurbaran’s Saint Margaret of Antioch (in Gallery 30) that shouldn’t be missed.

“Every time I look at Zurbaran’s picture of Saint Margaret,” Whitlum-Cooper says, “I fall in love with the bright red of her skirt, her beautifully painted alforjas, or saddlebags, the amazing geometric swirls of her straw hat – it’s a surprise every time to look down at her feet and remember that there’s a menacing dragon prowling around them.”

“To me, there’s something very modern and powerful about Saint Margaret’s direct gaze,” the curator continues, “so cool and calm, so confident in her faith, the dragon’s presence doesn’t bother her in the least.”

Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane

Paris: Death of the Virgin

While the notorious crowd swarms around Leonardo’s most famous work, the Mona Lisa, at the Louvre, slip away to see Caravaggio’s Death of the Virgin (1606). This Italian baroque masterpiece shows the Virgin Mary’s mortal body as you’ve never seen it depicted before. The painting is so intense that it was rejected by the monks at the church it was intended for, Santa Maria della Scala in Rome.

Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris

Los Angeles: Portrait of a Girl/Still Life With Fan

Max Pechstein's Portrait of a Girl/Still Life With Fan on display at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art

Highlighting the dark, oppressive environment of Europe’s post-war period, Portrait of a Girl/Still Life With Fan served as the beginning of a breakthrough for artists Wassily Kandinsky and Emil Nolde in art’s contemporary period.

When you go to LA’s most famous art museum, Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, chances are you’ll flock to see Diego Rivera’s Día des Flores (Flower Day), 1925. It’s one of his most iconic depictions of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and the first major Rivera painting to enter a public art collection in the U.S. But as you meander through the collections, be sure not to overlook the paintings of German expressionist Max Pechstein.

Although he’s not as well known as his contemporaries Wassily Kandinsky and Emil Nolde, he played an important part in the breakthrough of the style. Pechstein survived the turmoil of the 20th century – and was incredibly skilled at translating this onto the canvas. His painting Portrait of a Girl/Still Life With Fan, painted in 1919–20, captures the dark, meditative atmosphere of the post-war period in Europe.

Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

Seoul: Matrilineal Society in Asia – China #4

You can find the work of American greats, such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, at the Seoul Museum of Art. But it would be a shame to miss the emerging Korean artists that the museum nurtures and showcases. Admire Bek Ji Soon’s photographic portraits of women from across South East Asia, particularly her photograph Matrilineal Society in Asia – China #4, in which a young girl in traditional clothes – confident and joyful in her gaze – sits front and centre. It’s a unique way to get acquainted with the city’s locals and learn more about the culture.

Four Seasons Hotel Seoul

New York: One: Number 31, 1950

Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950. On Display at the Museum of Modern Art.

One of the “drip” paintings Pollock created by pouring and drizzling paint from above, One: Number 31, 1950, highlights the artist’s technical expertise.

If you’d rather avoid the masses crowded around Starry Night, another of MoMA’s must-see paintings is on the same floor. Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950 is an iconic piece of American abstract expressionism that is often overlooked since it doesn’t really “look like” anything in the conventional sense. But what you’re really seeing in this painting is Pollock’s dramatic, dynamic movements, throwing paint (and himself) around. It can’t be missed.

Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

Mumbai: Maratha Lady

While visiting Mumbai’s renowned colonial-era Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, it would be difficult to miss Rao Bahadur MV Dhurandhar’s Court Scene, an early 20th-century watercolour. Bahadur was known for capturing the busy scenes and colourful characters of early 20th-century Mumbai, then known as Bombay, and this is a perfect example.

But another of his works, Maratha Lady from 1916, should not be overlooked. Rather than depicting a busy scene, here Bahadur focuses on one strong woman looking straight at the viewer, with a rural scene in the background. At the same time, the soft fabric of her sari shows her softer side, in sync with the rolling hills behind her.

Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai

Chicago: The White Place in the Sun

Georgia O’Keeffe’s The White Place in the Sun (1943). On display at the Art institute of Chicago.

At the Art Institute of Chicago, steal away to find O’Keeffe’s White Place in the Sun, which brings to life the smooth and stunning rock formations of New Mexico.

The Art Institute of Chicago is home to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942), one of the best-known artworks to emerge from 20th-century America, so it’s no surprise that it draws a lot of visitors. While you wait for the crowd to thin out, make your way to AIC’s Gallery 265 and see Georgia O’Keeffe’s The White Place in the Sun (1943). This shows you a completely different side of the U.S. – the sparse desert and smooth yet striking rock formations of the White Place near Abiquiu in New Mexico. The geological formation in the White Place had been smoothed and whittled by water and wind over centuries, until it eventually resembled spires and cliffs, and O’Keeffe contrasts its undulating shapes with the bright blue sky.

Your Journey Begins Here

Select a city and start planning your next artful escape.