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If the Mona Lisa didn't exist, what would the default Greatest Painting be?


lovelier than lovely
The Mona Lisa is often used as a sort of metonym or shorthand for art (that is Western art) in general. A bit like in the way that Beethoven's Fifth is shorthand for classical music, or Hamlet for English literature. I was idly wondering what other painting might have fulfilled this role if the Mona Lisa simply ceased to exist. Is there a widely acknowledged Second Greatest Painting in the world? (Whether or not you personally think the Mona Lisa is actually The Greatest Painting In The World is of course beside the point.)


Proudly European.
I first saw Botticelli's Birth of Venus in Florence when I was 14. I still remember the impact it had on me. So I don't really know which to choose. The more I think about it the more wonderful paintings come to mind.