Every painting has a story behind it. Every brush stroke and each drop of colour used is a written word on the canvas.
Sometimes the stories turn out to be even more interesting than the actual painting itself. In this post, let us look at some of the world famous paintings and their background stories.
Story of ‘Portrait of Dr. Gachet’
Vincent Van Gogh is the creator of a bunch of world famous art paintings. Portrait of Dr. Gachet is one among them. But, you cannot expect this painting to be a part of this list unless there is a story behind it. And yes, there is one.
After Van Gogh was released from asylum, he was sent to Dr. Gachet, so that he was still under some supervision. The doctor was also a fan of working artists. Some days later, Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo that the doctor was sicker than he was and should look for someone else. However, a couple of days later, he wrote to his sister, “I have found a true friend in Dr. Gachet, something like another brother, so much do we resemble each other physically and also mentally.”
There began a beautiful friendship. Van Gogh ended up painting two versions of the Portrait of Dr. Gachet. After completing the painting, he wrote to his brother saying, “I’ve done the portrait of M. Gachet with a melancholy expression, which might well seem like a grimace to those who see it”. Today, this painting is one of the most famous and expensive paintings of all time.
Story of ‘The Scream’
Edvard Munch is the creator of one of the most expensive paintings in the history of art. We are talking about ‘The Scream’!
This particular painting has attracted many people, amazed even more, and scared a few. Do you want to know how the idea of creating this fabulous piece of art came to Edvard Munch? Let us see. The artist himself scribbled in his diary about how ‘The Scream’ actually came to his imaginations.
One fine evening, the artist was walking through the city roads. For a second, he stopped walking and looked at the skies. All he saw was the setting sun and clouds, which appeared in blood red colour. There was also a faint creaking sound from under the city. According to him, the whole setting made him feel like the nature was screaming for something. Then, he went on to paint The Scream with blood red clouds and screaming backgrounds. Thus, the painting was born. There are four versions of this painting and a couple of them are a part of world famous art galleries and others a part of someone’s private collection.
‘American Gothic’ Story
This is one of those modern paintings by an American artist, Grant Wood. The paintings show a father, who is a farmer, and his daughter standing together in front of a house. There is nothing drastic about how Grant Wood found inspiration for American Gothic.
On a fine August morning, another young artist took Grant for a drive around Iowa, to find an inspiration for his next painting. At that time, he noticed a small house built in a Gothic style. Right then, Grant drew the house on an envelope he had with him. After getting the consent of house owners, Grant Wood thought about creating a painting with people who, he thought, would be perfect for a house like that and went on to do so. The two characters in the paintings are actually Grant’s sister and his dentist. Today, this painting is on display at Art Institute of Chicago.
The ‘Mona Lisa’ Story
You do not need any introduction for this famous lady with the most mysterious smile. This famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci is completely out of the world! The confirmation about the fact that Da Vinci is in fact the creator of ‘Mona Lisa’ and the date of creation came only recently. The subject of the painting is believed to be Lisa del Giocondo, wife of a wealthy businessman of that era.
Da Vinci created this painting when Lisa and her husband moved to a new home and when they had their second child. However, there are different opinions about the subject and some people even dare to think the subject is none other than Leonardo himself! The truth behind the painting might still be an unresolved mystery, but the value of this piece of art is beyond anyone’s imagination. The painting is on display at Louvre, Paris.
The ‘Last Supper’ Story
This is another Da Vinci painting, famous for its characters and quality. You will see this mural painting on the walls of the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie, Milan. ‘The Last Supper’ is believed to have completed by the year 1498. It was done as part of a renovation to the old church and convent. Leonardo painted this mural on the request of the then Duke of Milan.
The painting depicts the stress and dismay of the disciples of Jesus, when He predicts that one of them will betray Jesus. This work of art is considered an important one in Christian art and even in the world art. This large mural painting measures a whopping 180×360 inches!
‘The Night Watch’ Story
Rembrandt is considered as one of the best painting artists in the world. He has created many masterpiece paintings, which remain a wonder to many artists. ‘The Night Watch’ is one such painting. It was completed in the year 1642. The characters shown in the painting are Captain Frans Banning Cocq and his company, marching out. Rembrandt was paid a large sum to create this painting.
There are 34 characters in the painting and Rembrandt added a drummer to it, free of cost. The army, at that time, had this fondness for creating paintings and ‘The Night Watch’ is a part of a series of paintings created by different artists. Today, this painting is on display at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
The ‘Guernica’ Story
Pablo Picasso is a name you just cannot keep out of discussions about art paintings. His cubist style of painting has created many wonders on the canvas. ‘Guernica’ is, perhaps, the best work of art by this Spanish legend. In 1937, the German and Italian warplanes bombed the city if Guernica, taking many innocent lives. The Government asked Picasso to create a painting about the bombings and suffering of people. This bought the best out of Picasso and he went on to create another masterpiece art. This painting was later displayed at the World’s art Fair in Paris. In this painting, Picasso illustrates the sufferings of humans, animals and birds, caused due to heavy bombing. You will see this painting at The Sofia museum, Spain.
‘The Starry Night’ Story
If you ask some art lover to pick two of the best works by Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night would definitely be one among them. This bright and colourful painting was completed in the year 1889. This painting was drawn when he was spending time at the sanitarium.
The view outside the window during the nighttime attracted Van Gogh and he went on to create this painting. However, he actually painted Starry Nights during daytime. After completing the painting, he sent it to his brother, Theo, in Paris. However, in Van Gogh’s subsequent letters to Theo, it can be interpreted that the artist was not that happy with the painting for some reason.
The Story of ‘Sistine Madonna’
Almost every one of Raphael’s works is known to be simple and aesthetic. There are no better words to describe the Sistine Madonna either! This is one of the last Madonnas painted by Raphael. The painting shows Madonna holding child Jesus, and Saint Sixtus and Saint Barbara standing on the either sides.
Pope Julius II commissioned the painting in 1512. The inclusion of both the Saints in the painting was a result of the request from Rovere family. According to history books, the famous Italian artist Correggio was so impressed by the painting that he broke out in watching the masterpiece work.
Story of ‘Whistler’s Mother’
James McNeill Whistler was an American born artist, who lived in London. Whistler’s Mother is the most famous work by this American artist. The stories surrounding this painting are numerous that no one knows for sure. The most popular one is that a model could not make it to the studio of the artist and his mother took the place of that model. Also, the artist wanted to paint the character in a standing pose, but had to change mind due to bad health of his mother. The painting won so many recognitions and awards for James Whistler. Today, the painting is on display at Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
Sometimes, it is just bewildering how these artists find inspiration from the weirdest of things. One thing is for sure, wherever the inspiration comes from, it will always be accompanied by a great story!
Now, it’s your turn. What do you think about the stories behind these world’s famous paintings? Are these stories correct? Which one is your favourite? Share your thoughts with us via comments.