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Sunday, 21 August 2011



The earliest works of art are paleolithic animal paintings discovered in prehistoric caves in southern France and northern Spain

Engravings at Cresswell Crags on the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border are the oldest known examples of rock art in Britain.

Ancient Chinese artists would never paint pictures of women's feet.

The idea of mixing two paint colors to produce a third is credited to the Greek philosopher Plato.

The medieval church walls were covered in paintings, which, in a period of almost universal illiteracy were thought to be the poor man’s Bible. Later during the Reformation’s movement against icons they were covered in whitewash.

During the Renaissance era, artists could not show woman’s toes or bare feet in their paintings.

The Portrait of an African Man (see below) is a painting by Netherlands Renaissance painter Jan Mostaert. Mostaert done between circa 1520 and 1530. It was the first ever portrait of a black man in European painting.

The modern usage of the word “art” referring especially to painting, drawing, or sculpture emerged by c.1700.

Aquatint, a form of etching which gives a tonal effect like a wash drawing was perfected in France in 1768 by Jean-Baptiste Le Prince.

The genre of art known as Cubism derived its name from a belittling remark made by Matisse in reference to a Graque painting. Matisse said that the landscape looked as though it were wholly made up of little cubes.

Collage, a technique of picture-making in which pieces of paper, fabrics, or other materials are glued to the surface of the canvas collage, was introduced by the Cubists c.1912.

The famous French painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, by the French artist Marcel Duchamp, was displayed at an ‘Armory Show’ in New York City in 1913. The work was labelled as America’s first look at modern art. Critics called the work “scandalous” and “meaningless.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was found in a hotel room in Florence on December 12, 1913, two years after being stolen from the Louvre in Paris by an Italian handyman.

Johannes Vermeer's painting The Concert was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston in 1990 by thieves disguised as policeman.  To this day the painting has not resurfaced; it is thought to be the most valuable work currently unrecovered, with a value estimated at over $200 million (£ 148 million).

An estimated $100 million of art was lost in the 9/11 attacks, including works by Picasso.

A painting looted by the Nazis, Max Liebermann’s 1901 Two Riders On A Beach, was sold at Sotheby’s for £1.865 million ($2.92 million) in June 2015. It was the first of more than 1,200 works found in the Munich apartment of German recluse Cornelius Gurlitt to be sold. Gurlitt’s father was an art dealer tasked by Hitler to plunder artworks from museums and Jewish collectors.

The English artist Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) was commissioned to paint Sir Winston Churchill’s portrait as an 80th birthday gift from MPs and Lords. Churchill hated the portrait calling it "filthy." After the public presentation, the painting was taken to his country home at Chartwell but was not put on display. After the death of Lady Churchill in 1977, it became clear that her secretary, Grace Hamblin, had organised for it to be taken from Chartwell in dead of night and burned.


The largest art theft in US history took place on March 18, 1990, when 12 paintings, collectively worth around $300 million, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

Mark Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow sold for $86.9 million (£53.8m) on May 3, 2012 - establishing a new record for post-war/contemporary art at a public auction, when ignoring inflation. The 1961 painting went under the hammer at Christie's in New York. The auction house's total takings - $388.5m (£240.5m) - exceeded the previous record for a contemporary art auction, set in 2007.

Orange, Red, Yellow Wikipedia Commons

An oil painting of two Tahitian girls, Nafea Faa Ipoipo, or When Will You Marry?, by the French artist Paul Gauguin was sold at auction by the family of Rudolf Staechelin in February 2015 for $300m (£197m), making it the most expensive work of art ever sold. The record was previously held by The Card Players, a work by Paul C├ęzanne that was sold privately in 2011 for between $250 and 300 million.

When Will You Marry?

Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Christ, Salvator Mundi, sold for a record-smashing $450.3 million (£341 million) on November 15, 2017 at Christie’s, New York more than double the old price for any work of art at auction. An unidentified buyer bought the work via telephone after a protracted contest of nearly 20 minutes at the New York auction house,

It beat a record set in May 2015 by Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes D’Alger which sold for $179.4 million (£136.6 million).

The British Royal Family owns the largest private art collection in the world, spanning 13 residences and over one million works of art.

Sources Daily Mail, Huffington Post

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