Events from the year 1872 in art.
- February 20 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York City.
- June – American-born painter James McNeill Whistler exhibits Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother, painted the previous year, at the 104th Royal Academy summer exhibition in London after the curator Sir William Boxall threatens to resign from the R.A. if it is rejected.
- November 13 (07:35) (probable date) – Claude Monet begins painting Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant) as viewed from his hotel room at Le Havre.
- November – Edward Lear acquires his cat Foss.
- date unknown
- Peter Nicolai Arbo – The Wild Hunt of Odin
- Arnold Böcklin – Self-portrait with Death playing the fiddle
- Caspar Buberl – Fulton Memorial (New York City)
- Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
- Gustave Doré – illustrations to London: A Pilgrimage (published)
- Frank Duveneck – The Whistling Boy (Cincinnati Art Museum)
- William Powell Frith – The Fair Toxophilites
- John Gast – American Progress
- Jean-Léon Gérôme – Pollice Verso ("Thumbs Down")
- Ivan Kramskoi
- Édouard Manet
- Claude Monet
- Thomas Moran – The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (first version)
- Berthe Morisot
- Vasily Perov
- Illarion Pryanishnikov – Empties
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Beata Beatrix (replica, commissioned by William Graham)
- Emil Jakob Schindler – The Steamer station on the Danube opposite Kaisermühlen
- Alfred Sisley
- James Tissot – Bad News
- Wilhelm Trübner – Auf dem Kanapee ("On the Sofa") (Nationalgalerie, Berlin)
- Frederick Walker – The Harbour of Refuge
- James McNeill Whistler – Arrangement in Gray: Portrait of the Painter
- Mårten Eskil Winge – Thor's Fight with the Giants
- January 16 – Edward Gordon Craig, English theatrical designer (died 1966)
- January 25 – Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, English painter (died 1945)
- February 25 – Alice Bailly Swiss painter and multimedia artist (died 1938)
- March 7 – Piet Mondrian, Dutch painter (died 1944)
- April 18 – Beta Vukanović, Serbian painter and centenarian (died 1972)
- August 21 – Aubrey Beardsley, English painter and illustrator (died 1898)
- April 2 – Samuel F. B. Morse, American inventor and painter of portraits and historic scenes (born 1791)
- April 10 – John Mix Stanley, American painter (born 1814)
- May 24 – Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, German painter (born 1794)
- August 8 – Eduard Magnus, German painter (born 1799)
- September 30 - Jakob Alt, German landscape painter (born 1789)
- October 29 – Thomas Combe, English printer and patron of the arts (born 1796)
- November 5 – Thomas Sully, English-born American portrait painter (born 1783)
- November 13 - Margaret Sarah Carpenter, English portrait painter (born 1793)
- November 25 - John Partridge, British artist and portrait painter (born 1789)
- December 23 – George Catlin, American painter who specialized in portraits of Native Americans in the Old West (born 1796)
- Olson, Donald W. (2014). "Dating Impression, Sunrise". Monet's Impression, Sunrise: the biography of a painting. Paris: Éditions Hazan; Musée Marmottan Monet. pp. 80–105. ISBN 978-0-300-21088-0.
- "A Chronology of Edward Lear". Edward Lear Home Page. 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- Gaunt, William; Clayton-Stamm, M. D. E. (1971). William De Morgan. London: Studio Vista. p. 168.
- Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, 14-17, haithitrust.org, 2012-07-09, p. 55, retrieved 2015-06-23