The First Paintings Of 14 Famous Artists

Before they hit the Louvre, they were just like us. Okay, except they painted brilliant works of art. posted on

1. Vincent Van Gogh, “The Potato Eaters,” 1885

Van Gogh’s first major work, “The Potato Eaters,” was painted in dark earth tones, a stark contrast from the hues in his later landscapes. Its aim was to capture the grim realities of peasant life.

2. Monet, “View from Rouelles,” 1858

“View from Rouelles” was lost for several years, but now it resides in a private collection.

3. Salvador Dalí, “Landscape Near Figueras,” 1910

Dalí painted this when he was 6 years old. (Depressing.) It’s far less surreal than most of his later work, obviously.

4. Georgia O’Keeffe, “Dead Rabbit with Copper Pot,” 1908

O’Keeffe’s college-era oil painting — the first she was recognized for — was undeniably a little macabre, but it won the Art Students League’s William Merritt Chase still-life prize.

5. Michelangelo, “The Torment of St. Anthony,” 1487

Completed when he was just 12 or 13 years old, “The Torment of St. Anthony” is one of only four known easel paintings of Michelangelo’s. A Texas museum acquired it in 2009. Also, it’s pretty freaky.

6. Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” 1962

The Campbell’s soup canvases were the first paintings Andy Warhol displayed in an art gallery; he made 32 canvases, one for each type of Campbell’s soup. They sold as a unit for $1,000, but now they all currently hang in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

7. Leonardo da Vinci, “The Adoration of the Magi,” 1481

In 1478, Da Vinci received a commission to paint an altarpiece for the Chapel of St. Bernard in the Palazzo Vecchio and, in March 1481, “The Adoration of the Magi” for the monks of San Donato a Scopeto. He didn’t finish either one, and a later hand finished this one for him.

8. Pablo Picasso, “Le Picador,” 1890

At age 9, Picasso was already creating masterpieces, making this drawing of a bullfighter.

9. Frida Kahlo, “Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress,” 1926

Kahlo, who didn’t start painting until later in life, made this first official self-portrait for her then-boyfriend, Alejandro Gómez Arias. The sea in the back is intended to be a symbol of life.

10. Rembrandt, “The Stoning of St. Stephen,” 1625

Rembrandt made this great work at age 19, giving one of the spectators behind Stephen his own features. It was a prime example of the painter’s excellent use of the shading tactic chiaroscuro.

11. Edvard Munch, “The Sick Child,” 1885

The painter of “The Scream” got his early start in poignancy with “The Sick Child,” a title given to collection of works surrounding the death of his older sister Johanne from tuberculosis at age 15. Throughout his career, he created several variants of the same painting.

12. Edgar Degas, “The Bellelli Family,” 1858

This brilliant portrait of Degas’ aunt, her husband, and their two young daughters took almost a decade to complete. It now hangs in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

13. Jackson Pollock, “Mural,” 1943

Considered by some to be the most important modern American painting ever made, Pollock’s “Mural” was an 8-by-20-foot canvas that foreshadowed his famous “drip” painting style. It belongs to the University of Iowa now, although it’s currently undergoing repair at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

14. Sandro Botticelli, “Fortitude,” 1470

More than a decade before “The Birth of Venus,” Botticelli’s first dated work is part of a series of paintings on the four “worldly virtues,” along with temperance, prudence, and justice, and the three “Christian virtues” of faith, hope, and charity, all commissioned by the Commercial Courts of Florence, Italy. In this one, a young woman sitting upon a throne and holding a scepter personifies the virtue of fortitude. (Some claim she’s pregnant.)

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