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Some of you may be familiar with the artistic greats – you may know the remote village they were born in, how many children or siblings they had, you may be familiar with their full catalogue of work. You may even know their mother’s full name. However, there would be some facts that you didn’t know about your favourite artists. That’s why we’ve searched high and low to find some of the more obscure facts about the leading artists. 

LEONARDO DA VINCI, THE VEGETARIAN

The Renaissance Man was not only a vegetarian but he was also an animal rights activist. In fact, he would often purchase caged birds at the market and set them free.

‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo Da Vinci (1495-1498)
Image Source: Wikipedia

Leonardo Da Vinci was also a procrastinator. He created less than 30 paintings over the course of his lifetime, and some of them weren’t even completed. He worked on ‘The Last Supper’ for three years and it’s said that he only finished the mural after his patron threatened to cut him off. It also took him 14 years to finally complete ‘La Mona Lisa’. That’s a combined 17 years to complete two masterpieces. He also left behind hundreds of unfinished pages of notes, sketches and drawings after his death in 1519. So, don’t feel guilty if you still haven’t completed the first draft of a novel. 

A bonus fun fact about Leonardo Da Vinci: he was left-handed and would write his private notes in mirror writing.

PABLO PICASSO, THE ART THIEF

We may know Pablo Picasso as a painter, sculptor, playwright or co-founder of the Cubist movement, but there’s another occupation you won’t find on his Wikipedia page – Picasso the art thief.

A few days after Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ was snatched from La Louvre in August 1911, a man named Joseph Géry Pieret told ‘The Paris Journal’ that Picasso was in possession of some Iberian sculptures that had also been stolen from La Louvre a couple of years previously. Picasso then jumped to the top of the list of suspects in the theft of ‘Mona Lisa’. In fact, Joseph Géry Pieret was the one who stole the Iberian sculptures and sold them to Picasso (the painter bought them knowing that they had been stolen). He was later quoted as saying, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

Picasso was baptized with 27 names: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso. The ‘Picasso’ came from his mother’s side of the family, Maria Picasso Lopez. His father was Jose Ruiz Blasco. 

A bonus fun fact about Pablo Picasso: His first word was ‘lapiz’ – the Spanish word for ‘pencil’.

SALVADOR DALÍ, THE REINCARNATION

The Spanish surrealist artist believed that he was the reincarnation of his dead brother, who was also named Salvador. Tragically, his brother died nine months before the artist was born from gastroenteritis.

‘Portrait of my Dead Brother’ by Salvador Dali (1963)

When Dalí was 5 years old, his parents took him to the grave of his older brother and told the young Dalí that he was his brother’s reincarnation. Dalí accepted this as fact and when he finally became an artist, he painted his sibling into several of his paintings. He also dedicated a painting to his older brother titled, ‘Portrait of My Dead Brother.’

Salvador Dalí designed the Chupa Chup logo. The lollipop company originates from Catalunya, where Dalí is from.

He also wasn’t a fan of children. He would visit playgrounds, take out a handful of sweets from his pocket, unwrap them, lick them and then throw them on the ground – only to tease the children.

A bonus fun fact about Salvador Dalí: He would draw pictures on his personal checks so nobody would want to cash them.

CLAUDE OSCAR MONET, THE CARICATURIST

Claude Monet, Caricature of Philiberte Audebrand, c. 1858.
Image Source: Claude Monet Online Gallery.

Yes, the world renowned impressionist artist, the man who co-founded the art movement and helped for it to flourish was also a caricaturist.

During a brief period of his childhood, Claude Monet moved with his family to a town called Le Havre in Normandy. When he turned eleven, he attended the local art school and started drawing caricatures of his classmates and teachers. When he wasn’t attending his classes, he would sketch local traders and citizens of the town. All of these early caricatures Monet produced are dated between 1855 and 1857.

The French artist unintentionally made a series of paintings with a reddish tone. This was due to the cataracts that were slowly making him blind. He later corrected the paintings after eye surgery. 

A bonus fun fact about Claude Monet: His father disapproved of his painting. He always wanted his son to be a grocer.

ANDY WARHOL, THE TIME TRAVELER

Pop Art pioneer Andy Warhol has been known to live his life with a bit of an edge. One particularly obscure habit of his was that, at the end of every month, Warhol would pack a box with different items, seal it and date it, creating a time capsule. Some of those items he would pack in the box included a mummified foot, Caroline Kennedy’s birthday cake, drawings of 1950s icons and a 17th-century German book on wrestling.

Andy Warhol, who identified as homosexual, confessed to his biographer back in 1980, at the age of 52, that he was still a virgin. Although his claim has since been disputed.

The Moon Museum.
Image Source: Wikipedia

A bonus fun fact about Andy Warhol: He also sent a sketch of a rocket ship to the moon. It is now exhibited in the Moon Museum.

HERE ARE SOME ADDITIONAL FUN FACTS ABOUT ARTISTS:

  • Damien Hurst directed the music video of ‘Country House’ by 90’s Britpop band, Blur.
  • Henri Matisse’s ‘La Bateau’ was hung upside down for 46-days at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, without anyone noticing.
  • Jackson Pollock would sometimes use cigarettes to paint.
  • Georges Braque was the first living person to have art displayed in La Louvre.
  • Contrary to popular belief. Vincent Van Gogh sold, not one painting, but at least 14. However, he received very little money for his creations.

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