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Lesser Known Facts About the World’s Greatest Artists.
When you think of art, many people think “Mona Lisa,” “Sistine Chapel,” “The Scream,” and other famous examples of artwork, but sometimes an artist’s life can be just as interesting as their paintings.
Did you know, for example, that Michelangelo absolutely hated painting? He claimed that painting was a waste of time compared with sculpture, and had to be harassed by Pope Julius II to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, which became one of the world’s most famous paintings. Not a bad “waste of time.” Want to learn more interesting facts? Read on…
Pablo Picasso, one of the fathers of Cubism actually has a slightly longer name. Twenty-three words long, to be precise! When he was born, the midwife believed him to be stillborn, and left him to tend to his mother. Fortunately, Picasso’s uncle blew cigar smoke into his face, causing him to scream and take his first breaths.
Picasso’s father was an artist, who taught him to paint throughout his childhood. Thanks to his father’s artistic influence, Pablo Picasso’s first word was “pencil,” but in Spanish, obviously. By the time Picasso had turned 13, his father had become so impressed by his artistic skill that he vowed to never paint again, as his son had surpassed him.
Pablo Picasso died on 8 April 1973, whilst hosting a dinner party, with the last words “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore”.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Perhaps the most famous artist to have picked up a paintbrush, Leonardo Da Vinci’s talents were not limited to painting. He was an incredible scientist, mathematician, engineer, and much, much more. Da Vinci can be credited with some kind of involvement in a number of inventions, such as the parachute, canals, musical instruments, cannons, tanks, even the helicopter!
Da Vinci’s most famous work, however, is the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. As an absolute perfectionist, it took Da Vinci around 15 years to complete the painting, spending 10 years on the mouth alone! In fact, Da Vinci’s perfectionism was so serious that it was rare for him to complete a piece of work, often destroying them before they were finished, rather than produce something that wasn’t impeccable.
Da Vinci’s combination of perfectionism and hunger for knowledge would often lead him to enter graveyards at night, and steal corpses to get the most accurate model with which he could study, the human body. Strangely, for the period in which he lived, Leonardo Da Vinci was vegetarian, and refused to eat meat out of respect for animals. For the same reason, he would regularly purchase caged birds and release them.
Vincent Van Gogh
Unlike Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh completed his paintings very quickly, producing the majority of his most celebrated work in the last three years of his life, and creating over 900 paintings in the space of 10 years. In 1886, Van Gogh left the Netherlands to join his brother, Theo, in Paris. Whilst there, he met Monet, Pissarro, and Gauguin, all of whom began to influence his artwork.
In 1888 Van Gogh decided to leave Paris, and set up an Art school in Arles. He invited his friends to join him, and of the three, Gauguin obliged. However, Gauguin shortly decided to leave, and was chased down by Van Gogh with a razor. The resulting argument led to Van Gogh using the razor to cut his own ear. Despite what many believe, he didn’t actually cut off his whole ear, just a portion of the ear lobe.
Van Gogh suffered from a multitude of mental disorders, and shortly after cutting his ear, he was treated in an asylum. He left the asylum in the summer of 1890, and shot himself two months after leaving. He died two days later, aged 37, having sold just one painting in his life. Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, died 6 months later and was buried alongside him. Theo’s widow found Van Gogh’s paintings, which had received no appreciation during his life, and dedicated her life to making sure his artwork gained recognition.