5 Famous Painters that DIED POOR

When we think of the word “painting”, what names come to mind?You are probably thinking of names like “The Starry night” by Vincent Van Gogh, “The Girl with The pearl earring”  by Johannes Vermeer or “The Monalisa” by   Leonardo da Vinci.

Yet, some of the famous painters we know today were not celebrated or recognized within their lifetimes. Despite being under-appreciated, these artist produced some incredibly famous art worth insane amounts today, and continue to inspire present-day artists. Quite shocking that as some of these pieces are now so expensive in the present day and are sold for millions of dollars in museums and galleries, some of these famous painters ended up miserable and even died poor.

1. Vincent Van Gogh

Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear- Vincent Van Gogh/ Wikipedia Commons

Famous artwork: “The Starry Night,” valued at  100 million dollars.

The Dutch post-impressionist painter is most famous for “The Starry Night” . The painter only sold one painting during his lifetime, which sold for the equivalent of approximately $109. The famous Starry Night painting is now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is valued at over 100 million dollars.

Battling with mental illness most of his life, this artist, unfortunately, lost this battle and cut his ear off in 1888, committing suicide not long after that by shooting himself in the chest. He died broke and destitute. His last words were, “The sadness will last forever.”

2. Johannes Vermeer

Famous artwork: “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” valued at 30.1 million dollars.

Best known for his painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Vermeer never gained recognition for his talent during his lifetime. After the French invaded the Netherlands in 1672, the Dutch economy suffered terribly, and Vermeer was left in hopeless debt.

He suffered from many physical afflictions as well as mental illness. He was forced to borrow money from his family, and after his death at the age of 43, his family was also left destitute. His famous work now resides in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague and is a priceless work of art.

3. Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn

Self Portrait – Rembrandt/ Encyclopedia Britannica

Famous artwork: “Rembrandt Laughing” valued at $4.5 million

Rembrandt was one of the greatest painters of all time and certainly the most important in Dutch history. He was best known for his portraits. Historians credit him with bringing on the “Dutch Golden Age .”

Rembrandt also painted many biblical scenes and was credited with having great empathy for the human condition, which helped him to capture his subjects in a way no one else could seem to manage.

Unfortunately, his life was fraught with tragedy, and after his wife died and his friends deserted him, he was pushed into bankruptcy and unable to find any more work. He died in obscurity and poverty in 1669. There are over 300 paintings in different museums and centers, some of which are valued at 230 million dollars.

4. James Barry

Self-Portrait – James Barry/Wikipedia Commons

Famous artwork: “Seated male nude” valued at GBP 87,500

James Barry was an Irish self–taught artist best known for his six-part series of paintings, “The Progress of Human Culture” ; his works included paintings with moral messages, Greek myths and portraits. He completed these for the Great Room of the Royal Society of Arts, became a member of the Royal Academy in 1773 and taught as a Professor there from 1782 to 1799.

Barry was one of the earliest “romantic” painters in Britain, and although he died in poverty in 1806, he was thought to be the most important Irish Neoclassical artist. His works are auctioned for over 5000 pounds.

5. Claude Monet

Self-portrait in Beret– Claude Monet/Wikipedia Commmons

Famous artwork: “Meules,” valued at 97 million dollars.

The French painter and founder of impressionist painting used the philosophy of impressionism in the painting of nature as it is. His seminal work was the” Impression, Sunrise,” which inspired the impressionist movement, but it was not until 1880 that his works began to sell, almost a decade after he had created his best works.

He enjoyed some fame in life, but many painters accused him of only caring about the commercialization of his works. Tragedy haunted him until the end of his days as he was left partially blind, which prevented him from continuing to paint with the same skill as in his best years.

His works are featured in top museum collections worldwide, with his most expensive painting, “Meules,” worth over 97 million dollars.

Want to read something fresh? Check out this profile of Nigerian figurative artist Oliver Okolo

Alberta Attih
Alberta Attih

Covering US art Stories ~~A Divergent

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