Paint & Art Trivia

Here are some fun and interesting, ‘Did you know? ‘ factoids about all thing’s paint, artist or art related.

The boxes have been colour coded to indicate the topics that they cover; for example, every blue box contains information on paintings. This page sees regular new content additions.

Leonardo da Vinci spent 12 years painting the Mona Lisa’s lips.
Gothic was originally a term of criticism among the Italian Renaissance artists who coined it. The term implied that, compared to superior classical buildings, the Gothic medieval cathedrals were so crude that only a Goth could produce them.
On 3rd December 1961 Henri Matisse’s painting Le Bateau was put the right way up after hanging upside-down for 46 days without anyone noticing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, America.
Roman statues were made with detachable heads, so that one head could be removed and replaced by another.
Paul Gaugin, the French painter, was a labourer on the Panama Canal. About 25,000 workers died during its construction.
In ancient times, it was believed that certain colours could combat the evil spirits that lingered over nurseries. Because blue was associated with the heavenly spirits, boys were clothed in that colour, boys then being considered the most valuable resource to parents. Although baby girls did not have a colour associated with them, they were mostly clothed in black. It was only in the Middle Ages when pink became associated with baby girls.
When Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1912, 6 replicas were sold as the original, each at a huge price, in the 3 years before the original was recovered.
On 3rd Dec 1961 Grandma Moses, the renowned American primitive painter, died at the age of 101
English artist Andy Brown, created a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain by stitching together 1,000 used tea bags.
Carbon paper was patented on October 7th 1806 by Ralph Wedgewood of London, England
During his entire life, artist Vincent Van Gogh sold just one painting; Red Vineyard at Arles
In 1658 the first illustrated book for children was published in Germany.
Mental illness may be profoundly responsible for the creation and enduring popularity of Expressionism. Van Gogh’s well-documented mental instability, and Edvard Munch’s traumatic childhood and enduring neuroses helped to churn out some of the Expressionists’ most important works. Munch accepted that his mental illness was part of his genius, “I would not cast off my illness, for there is much in my art that I owe to it.”
On 20th November 1929 Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali held his first one-man show in Paris, France
The large canvases Jackson Pollock used for his Abstract Expressionist action paintings were usually laid flat on the floor while he painted. Pollock was a chain smoker and would frequently paint with a cigarette hanging from his lips. This led to the intriguing incorporation of cigarette ashes into the surface of some of his greatest works.
Picasso could draw before he could walk, and his first word was the Spanish word for pencil.
The word ‘cartoon’ originally comes from painting terminology? The term ‘cartoon’ relates to a preliminary, but fully worked, sketch from which the outlines could be transferred to be the basis of a design for a fresco or painting.
When Auguste Rodin exhibited his first important work, The Bronze Period, in 1878 it was so realistic that people thought he had sacrificed a live model inside the cast.
The world famous Louvre Museum and Art Gallery in Paris, France was built in 1190 and was used as a fortress.
Rodin died of frostbite in 1917 when the French government refused him financial aid for a flat, yet they kept his statues warmly housed in museums.
When Auguste Rodin exhibited his first important work, The Bronze Period, in 1878 it was so realistic that people thought he had sacrificed a live model inside the cast.
tessellation is a design made from shapes that fit together perfectly. For example a chessboard is a simple tessellation made of squares.
That in 1495 Leonardo da Vinci designed a pyramid-shaped parachute, and began painting The Last Supper.
Salvador Dali was actually expelled from the Surrealist group in 1939. Even with all of the fame and publicity that Dali brought the group, they simply felt his odd political interests (his support of General Franco) and his fascination with Adolph Hitler were just too irrational for this irrational movement
Left-handed painter, Michelangelo, painted his famous David and Goliath with David holding his sling in his left hand.
Another famous left-hander, Leonardo da Vinci, wrote all of his personal notes from right to left, forcing those who read them to use a mirror.
Pablo Picasso loved animals. Through his adult life he owned a pet monkey, an owl, a goat, a turtle and packs of dogs and cats. He was known to leave his studio windows open and to paint the pigeons that flew through.
The first pencil was invented in England in 1565
The term Art Nouveau was taken from the name of a shop that opened in Paris in 1895. In France, Art Nouveau is referred to as ‘Modern Style’.
Vincent Van Gogh committed suicide while painting Wheat Field with Crows.
In 1961 Georges Braque was the first living artist to have his work exhibited in the Louvre. In addition to painting, Braque also designed stage sets, costumes and illustrated books.
Impressionism was given its name from one of Monet’s pictures, Impression: Sunrise.
People have been painting things for the past 20,000 years, but it wasn’t until 1880 that you could purchase ready mixed paints.
When Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque coined the term Cubism they created a technique called collage. Dada and other Surrealist artists later adopted this technique of sticking pre-printed patterns onto their compositions.
Genghis Khan forever impacted Eastern porcelain by introducing the Chinese to cobalt blue, which he carried from Iran.
In all of Dali’s paintings you can find a self-portrait. That is, if you look hard you will see at-least a silhouette of Dali himself.
Leonardo Da Vinci invented high heels
In the late nineteenth century the Impressionist movement was initially not received very well by the establishment. Reviews were at times abusive: La Figaro, 1876, “Five or six lunatics, one of them a woman, have met here to exhibit their works. Someone should tell Mr. Pissarro forcibly that trees are never violet, the sky is never the colour of fresh butter, that nowhere on earth are things to be seen as he paints them.” Maybe not, but the popularity of this movement cannot be disputed
People have been painting things for the past 20,000 years, but it wasn’t until 1880 that you could purchase ready mixed paints.
The ancient Egyptians developed paints from pigments in the soil . Yellow, orange, and red all being derived from a form of rust.
Missionaries shared the secret of pink with the Chinese. They fired gold to a certain temperature until it turned pink. If fired at another temperature, it turned purple
Yellow is the most difficult colour for the eye to process
Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

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