Before they were famous: First paintings from great artists



2017-11-07 16:05:26

Have you ever wondered about Picasso’s first painting?

Are artists like him born with those astonishing talents, or are they hard won?

The answer is a bit of both.

Here are five first paintings from some of the biggest artists of all time.

5. Salvador Dali - Landscape Near Figueras (1910)

Dali showed a talent for painting very early on. Just take a look at this postcard from 1910, executed when he was just six years old.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

In his teenage years Dali fell under the spell of impressionism but this work, with its eerie green hue, seems to foreshadow the alien landscapes he’d start work on in the 1920s.

The piece has survived to the present day. You can actually go and see it at the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg Florida.

4. Michelangelo - The Torment of St. Anthony (1487)

This nightmarish piece by a very young Michelangelo (he was only 14 when he painted it) is the earliest surviving proof of his genius.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

It shows the hermit St Anthony being tormented by demons and was produced in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Michelangelo’s teacher.

Michelangelo’s exceptional technique marked him out early as one to watch. In a few short years he’d go on to paint the roof of the Sistine Chapel in Rome – arguably the greatest masterwork of all time.  

3. Picasso – Picador (1890)

It’s fitting that Picasso’s first painting should depict a bullfighter. This was a theme he would revisit endlessly throughout his career.

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

Picasso began his training as an artist very early. His father was an art teacher and was keen to encourage his son into his line of work.

At the age of nine he created this piece. It’s clear from a glance that he was unusually talented. The horse is masterfully executed as are the details of the faces in the background.

2. View from Rouelles – Monet (1858)

This is Monet’s first known painting.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

He painted it in 1858, when he was 18, while on a trip to the village of Rouelles with his mentor, the plein air painter Eugene Boudin.

Monet’s work would develop into the proto-abstraction of impressionism over the next two decades. But you can already see the seeds of that later style in the way he captures the light.

1. The study of Moreau – Matisse (1894)

Matisse originally planned to train as a lawyer before he found his calling. He went to study in Paris in 1891, when he was just 11.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Matisse painted the work in 1894, at the age of 14, whilst studying in the studio of symbolist Gustave Moreau.

On first glance it’s hard to believe it is a Matisse.

The drab colours and overall murky feel of the painting are about as far away as you can get from his ecstatic later works. 

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