Famous Artist Facts

Famous Artists 

Have you ever heard of Picasso, Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci? What about Renoir and Caravaggio? Maybe, maybe not?

Well, one thing all of these names have in common is that they are all famous artists. Let’s explore some facts about these historical figures!

We are going to look at the following artists. Scroll down the page to find out more about each famous name.

  1. Leonardo da Vinci
  2. Pablo Picasso
  3. Renoir
  4. Michelangelo
  5. Rembrandt 
  6. Salvador Dali
  7. Claude Monet
  8. Francisco de Goya
  9. Caravaggio
  10. Vincent van Gogh

1. Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci is without doubt one of the most famous artists of all time.

He was certainly a very famous artist, well-known for his painting the ‘Mona Lisa’ which is now displayed in the Louvre in Paris.

But that’s not all he’s famous for. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts for kids about Leonardo da Vinci! Enjoy!

Leonardo da Vinci for kids

Interesting Facts about Leonardo da Vinci’s Life

Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t just an artist; amazingly he was also an inventor and a scientist too. He certainly had many talents and he sure must have been one clever man!

He was born in 1452 in Vinci, Italy.

His most famous paintings were the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and The Vetruvian Man.

We know he was super smart but he’s thought to be one of the cleverest men in history.

Have you ever heard of the term ‘Renaissance Man’, which means that someone does many things very well?

Well this actually came from Leonardo da Vinci’s many talents and is still used today when people have as many talents as he did. That’s pretty cool.

Not much is known about his childhood, except that his father was very rich and that at the age of 14 he became an apprentice to a famous artist named Verrocchio.

This is where he started to learn all his amazing skills.

Apparently he also had lots and lots of wives!

Leonardo da Vinci the Artist

He is considered one of the greatest artists of all time, and even though there isn’t that many of his paintings left he is most famous for the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper which we mentioned earlier.

last supper leonardo da vinci

He also drew lots of pictures, and quite a few of them were rather unusual! He kept journals with lots of drawings in them which were often about different things he was interested in at the time.

Some of these drawings were sketches of his paintings while others were of the human body and others were more scientific.

One famous drawing is the Vitruvian Man drawing. It is a picture of a man who has perfect proportions based off the notes from the Roman architect Vitruvius. Other famous drawings include a design for a flying machine and a portrait he drew of himself. 

Leonardo the Scientist and Inventor

Many of his drawings and journals were made in his search for scientific knowledge and inventions. His journals were filled with over 13,000 pages of his observations of the world. That’s a lot of drawings!

He drew pictures and designs of hang gliders, helicopters, war machines, musical instruments, various pumps, and more.

He was also interested in civil engineering projects too and designed a single span bridge, a way to divert the Arno River, and moveable barricades which would help protect a city in the case of attack. 

Wow, those certainly were some clever things that he did.

da vinci bridge

Many of his drawings were also about the human body. He drew pictures of muscles, tendons, and the human skeleton.

He had detailed figures of various parts of the body including the heart, arms, and other internal organs.

Amazingly he was also very interested in animals like horses as well as cows, frogs, monkeys, and other animals. 

Fun Facts about Leonardo da Vinci

  • Lots of people say he invented the bicycle, but no one is really sure whether this is true or not.
  • His Vitruvian man is on the Italian Euro coin.
  • There are only about 15 of his paintings left today.
  • The Mona Lisa is also called “La Giaconda” meaning the laughing one.
  • Unlike some artists, Leonardo was very famous for his paintings while he was still alive. Many only become famous for their paintings after they have died.
  • It’s only recently that it was discovered that he was a great scientist and inventor too.
  • Many of his drawings of things that looked like hang gliders and helicopters have since been made.
  • His surname ‘da Vinci’ literally means ‘of Vinci’ which is where he was born.
  • There are some pretty cool facts about this amazing man. The next time you get a project on a famous artist, why not use these awesome facts to help you ace it!


2. Pablo Picasso

Picasso was certainly a very famous painter indeed, and he may be the first name you think of when someone mentions the word ‘artist’!

Here are some amazing and fun facts about this great artist.

Picasso facts

The Number of Words in Picasso’s Name

Best you sit down for this. Picasso has 23 words in his name! Picasso was baptized Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso.

He was named after various saints and relatives. The “Picasso” is actually from his mother, Maria Picasso y Lopez. His father is named Jose Ruiz Blasco.

Now that sure is a long name, at least we only have to call him Picasso!

Picasso Nearly Died at Birth

Picasso had such a difficult birth and was a very very weak baby. In fact, he was so weak that the midwife thought that he was stillborn, meaning that he was born dead.

She left him to go and look after Picasso’s mother. His uncle, who was a doctor named Don Salvador was the one who saved him. Wow, lucky for him. Imagine us not ever knowing who Picasso was?

What was Picasso’s First Word?

If you ask your parents what your first words were, they will probably say either ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, but Picasso’s first word, being the great artist that he was, was “piz”.

It is short for “lapis” the Spanish word for pencil.

When Did Picasso Start Learning about Art? 

Picasso’s dad, Ruiz, decided to start teaching him art at the young age of 7.

However, by the time Picasso was 13 years old, his dad decided to give up painting for good as he thought that Picasso was a far better painter than he was.

picasso painting

When Did Pablo Picasso Paint His First Painting?

Amazingly, at the young age of 9 Picasso completed his first painting which was called Le picador, which was a man riding a horse in a bullfight.

His first major painting, which was an ‘academic’ work was First Communion, which was a portrait of his father, mother, and younger sister kneeling before an altar. Picasso was 15 when he finished it.

He sure was ahead of his time.

How Did Picasso Do at School?

Well, let’s put it this way, he was called a “terrible student” and always landed up in detention.

Even though he was a brilliant artist, he did not like being told what to do and didn’t follow the rules, which meant detention for him all the time!

He clearly didn’t enjoy school too much!

What was Picasso’s First Job?

Picasso signed his first contract in Paris with art dealer by the name of Pere Menach.

He agreed to pay Picasso 150 Francs per month, which is about the equivalent of US$750 today.

Did Picasso Steal the Mona Lisa?

Did you know that there were rumors that Picasso stole the Mona Lisa? Well there certainly were.

However he didn’t, but in 1911, when the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre, the police took in Picasso’s friend, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire.

Apollinaire ratted out Picasso as a suspect, so the police hauled him in for questioning. Both were later released and weren’t guilty of the crime.



In 1909, Picasso and French artist Georges Braque co-founded an art movement known as cubism.

Actually, it was a French art critic Louis Vauxcelles who first called it “bizarre cubiques” or cubism, after noticing that Picasso and Braque’s paintings were all “full of little cubes.”

Who Were Some of Picasso’s Greatest Friends? 

He certainly moved around in famous circles as he was great friends with another very famous painter by the name of Marc Chagall.

Also, he named Paul Cezanne as his one and only master.

Hope you enjoyed our fun facts about Pablo Picasso.

Maybe you can use these for a school project or just share your knowledge with your friends and family.


3. Renoir

Pierre Renoir became a very famous painter and he sure started at a young age, and his talent was seen even then. Here are some cool facts about this amazing painter that you can use for a school project or just for fun.

Renoir’s Early Career

Pierre’s first experience with painting happened in 1854 when he took his first job working in a porcelain factory. There he painted designs on fine china.

His talent for painting would have made sure he always had a job as a porcelain painter, but the company went out of business four years later.

While he was doing this job he used to love visiting the Louvre and seeing the works of all the French art masters. .

In 1861, Renoir began attending the art studio of Swiss teacher Marc-Gabriel-Charles Gleyer. At the same time Renoir enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux.

At Gleyre’s studio Renoir met other young artists, including Camile Pissarro, Paul Cézanne and Claude Monet. He definitely knew all the cool painters of the time.

Renoir facts

In 1869 Renoir and Claude Monet worked together to create the first landscape paintings in the impressionist style.

This new style was all about capturing the effect of the light on the person they were painting. Because they were painting outside, they painted with bright colors and quick brush strokes.

They used to do this quickly to paint all the essentials before the light changed. Pretty cool!

In 1878, Renoir’s Le Café, a painting of a young woman enjoying a cup of coffee, was accepted at the Salon.

In 1879 he showed four more works at the Salon, including Madame Charpentier and her Children, which was hung in a noticeable place.

He became friends with the Charpentier family, and in times of need they helped him financially.

In return he painted portraits of their family. Madame Charpentier and Her Children became one of his most famous works.

Renoir’s Family Life

Renoir married Alice Charigat at the age of 40. Together they had three sons, Pierre, Jean, and Claude. In those days that was quite old to get married!

Earlier in his career, Renoir, like many painters, hired models to pose. However, after his marriage, he often used his wife and children as the models for his paintings.

His paintings that showed how he lived his daily life were taken from his own experiences with his family.

Famous Friends

He made many friends in the art, political and upper-class societies. He met other famous painters like Claude Monet as we mentioned earlier.

In fact, there are several paintings of Renoir and Monet that are similar. They would often paint at the same place but from different angles and discuss how they could improve their paintings.

Now this is amazing! He was saved from being arrested as a spy because a commanding officer owed him a favor. And Renoir was supported with a spacious room and board via the generosity of a friend.

Renoir spy

Travelling Europe

Renoir traveled Europe and met many people and saw many places. He was always on the lookout for other painters like Velazquez, Delacroix, and Raphael.

Renoir also met and painted a portrait of composer Richard Wagner. He sure knew how to make friends in high places!

Loyalty to the Crown

Queen Victoria asked for some of Renoir’s paintings. He donated these to her to show his loyalty to the crown.

Renoir’s Painting Style

This is amazing! Renoir made several thousand paintings during his lifetime.

His work is also often copied and reproduced.

Renoir changed his style a few times.

At first he started painting scenery, then he incorporated formal portraiture, next he was persuaded to try something new in a style that is now called his Ingres period. He then went back to his classical roots.

He used thin brushes so that he could focus on the details of the figures in his paintings.

Renoir painting style changed

Renoir’s Later Life

Later in life, Renoir developed arthritis which affects all your joints and can be very painful. This illness really limited his movement, including the movement of his hands and shoulder.

Because of this he had to change his painting technique. As the paralysis worsened, he would paint by having his brush strapped to his bandaged hands.

Renoir died in France on December 3, 1919. He was 78 years old.

His lively and colorful paintings are among the most well known and most copied works in the history of art.

Famous Paintings

Renoir has many famous works, but perhaps the most famous of his paintings is
Renoir’s 1876 Dance at. Le Moulin de la Galette.

In this painting the scene is set outdoors at, a popular dance garden on the Butte Montmartre. The scene is crowded with people going about doing what they normally did.

Do you know any other interesting facts about Renoir? If you do, please let us know, we would love to hear from you.


4. Michelangelo

Michelangelo was a very famous painter and is well-known for his work on the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Here we take a look at some cool and interesting facts about this amazing man.


Michelangelo’s Early Life

Even though we just call him Michelangelo his full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Now that’s quite a mouthful of a name!

Michelangelo was raised in Florence in Italy.Sadly Michelangelo’s mother died when he was only six years old. That’s really sad.

There were five boys in his family and he was the second eldest.

There was Lionardo who was born in 1473, Michelangelo born 1475, Buonarroto born in 1477, Giovansimone born in 1479 and Gismondo born in 1481.

That’s quite a big family!

What was Michelangelo Famous for?

His most famous works are the sculpture of David and Pieta, the design of the dome in St. Peter’s Basilica and also the painted frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

He did all of these before he was even 30 years old! He sure was good at what he did.

Interesting Facts About Michelangelo 

Michelangelo spent four years working on the dome of the Sistine Chapel.  That is a seriously long time for one painting!

He stood on a scaffold and painted over his head.

Many people believe that he actually painted lying down, but that’s not true. As we said he stood and literally painted over his head…he must have had strong arms!


Michelangelo was hit in the nose as a teenager by Pietro Torrigiano, a fellow art student at an art academy in Florence.  This left him with a permanently crooked nose! That’s not too cool.

When he got older he lived like a hermit. This means that he spent most of his time by himself and very rarely saw anyone else. He was actually quite rich, but he lived in a complete mess.

Michelangelo never got married and had no children. However some people think that he did date Tommaso dei Cavalieri and the poet Vittoria Colonna. Guess we’ll never really know will we?

Michelangelo wrote plenty of letters throughout his career. About 490 have survived and have none other than his original signatures on them!

Those would be very awesome to see. Michelangelo was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was still alive.

A biography is a story that is written about someone’s life by another person.

From 1527-1529 Michelangelo took a break from art and joined the army to defend the Republic of Florence.  He worked as an engineer to protect the city.

Michelangelo army engineer

Did you know that Michelangelo was also a poet? Well he was and apparently there are over 300 poems that he wrote. He was a man of many talents it seems!

Michelangelo was often not very proud of his work. He was known for disliking it and being very critical of his creations. He also apparently had quite a temper!

Towards the end of his life Michelangelo destroyed many of his sketches. For some strange reason he didn’t want people to know how hard he worked.

Michelangelo died in Rome in 1564. His remains were secretly returned to Florence and he was buried at the Basilica of Santa Croce, according to his wishes.

So there are our interesting facts about this genius of an artist. Do you have any other cool facts to share with us? We’d love to hear from you.


5. Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn was a very famous painter. Have you ever heard of ‘Night Watch’? Well if you have this is the painter that created that masterpiece.

We’ve got some awesome facts for you about this unbelievable artist for your next school project or just for fun!


Rembrandt van Rijn’s Early Life

He was born on July 15, 1606 in Leiden,Netherlands. He had one seriously large family and was the ninth child. Wow, that’s a lot of kids!

His dad was a miller, someone who works in a corn mill, and he made sure that Rembrandt had a very good education.

He went to the University of Leiden, but we was far more interested in art. Eventually he left the university and became an apprentice to artist Jacob van Swanenburgh.

He also was a student of the painter Pieter Lastman.

He was one brilliant painter and at the age of 19 he opened his first art gallery. Wow, that’s young! When he was only 21 he started to teach others how to paint.

He eventually moved to Amsterdam and started painting portraits of people as his professional job. That’s quite a cool job!

Rembrandt van Rijn’s Portraits

When people think about Rembrandt van Rijn they think of portraits, where he paints pictures of people. Obviously in those days there were no cameras so people used to get painters to paint pictures of them.

Rembrandt did many portraits and he was and still is thought to be one of the best portrait artists of all time! Wow, what a legend.

He also painted over 40 portraits of himself.

Why were his portraits so famous? Well, the reason that he was so well-known for these is the fact that they were so life-like and if you looked at the paintings it looked like the people were staring at you.

Wow, that must look a bit weird from a painting.

What was Rembrandt van Rijn’s Most Famous Painting?

The prize goes to none other than the ‘Night Watch’. It was a really large painting that was over 14 feet (4.6 meters) long and nearly 12 feet (3.7 meters) tall.

That’s rather massive for a painting!


The painting was of a military scene.

But Rembrandt was quite ahead of his time as in those days a typical portrait would have shown the men lined up in a row, with each man looking similar and the same size.

He thought that this would be rather boring so instead he painted each man doing something else and it looked more like an action scene. How cool is that?

Interesting Facts about Rembrandt

He loved to spend money and liked to collect art and other items. Because of this he never really had any money even though his paintings were so popular.

He really loved dogs and put them in quite a few of his paintings.

He outlived his wife and his only son.

His home in Amsterdam has been turned into the Rembrandt House Museum.

‘The Night Watch’ is currently displayed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

So there are our cool facts about this master painter.


6. Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was a Spanish painter. Here we take a look at 20 amazing and some funny facts about him just for fun or maybe you can use them for a school project. Enjoy!

Early Life

Salvador Dali was born on 11th May 1909 in Figueres, Spain.


His brother, who was also called Salvador, had died nine months before Dali was born. Dali, who was encouraged by his parents, believed that he was his brother in another form, and this was often seen in his work.

Dali went to drawing school and the first time his work was shown to the public was in 1917. It was a series of charcoal drawings and the exhibition was organized by his father.

This is terrible! His mother died in 1921 of cancer and he was extremely sad about it and it affected him badly.

Dali then moved to Madrid to study at the School of Fine Arts. He experimented with a type of painting called cubism, which means that the painting was made up with a whole lot of little cubes.

He got a reputation for being a bit eccentric or unusual!

Oh dear…he was expelled from the School of Fine Arts for causing some unrest! Clearly he was quite the naughty one.

Salvador in Paris

When he visited Paris he met the great Pablo Picasso! Wow.

Dali joined the Surrealist group in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris. Surrealism in art is more about dream like images as opposed to lifelike paintings.

He painted ‘The Persistence of Memory’, one of his most famous works, in 1931. It features the famous picture of the melting clock.

Dali and his wife, Gala, moved to America to escape World War 2. They lived there for 8 years.

When he returned to Paris after World War 2, he started experimenting with all sorts of things. He used optical illusions and also became interested in math and science. He was particularly interested in DNA. Wow, that’s pretty cool.

Now this might amaze you. He designed the Chupa Chups logo. How weird.


More Cool Salvador Dali Facts

Dali died of heart failure on 23rd January 1989 at the age of 84.

He often used strange images in his paintings like melting clocks, elephants, eggs, ants, snails and locusts. Now that’s rather strange.

He created more than 1500 paintings in his lifetime and also created drawings, illustrations, sculptures, short films and books.

He was extremely scared of grasshoppers!

He didn’t know how to count money.

When he was in public he used to jump up and down to get attention.

He was afraid to expose his feet.


7. Claude Monet

As with most famous painters, they sure lived interesting lives and Claude Monet is no exception.

Here we’ve got some really cool facts for you about this famous ‘impressionist’ painter to crack that next project or to learn just for fun!

What do we know about the early life of this famous French artist?

Claude Monet facts

Claude Monet was born on 14th November 1840 in Paris, France.

He was named Oscar-Claude, and his parents called him Oscar. Isn’t it weird how everyone calls him Claude though and his parents called him Oscar? How bizarre!

When he went to school he used to draw caricatures of his teachers! A caricature is a type of drawing where some facial features are made to look funny so it almost looks like a comic drawing!

Monet’s father was a grocer and his mother was a singer. His dad wanted him to work with him, but Claude decided against it as he wanted to be an artist instead.

Monet at Art School

He went to Le Harve School of Arts in 1851 and he still carried on drawing caricatures. Instead this time he used to sell his charcoal caricatures to help bring in some extra money.

Clever indeed! It would be cool to have a caricature done to see what you look like!

He was mentored by Eugene Boudin, who was one of the first landscape painters who actually painted outside. Wow! He taught Monet how to paint with oil paints as well as how to paint outdoors.

Monet certainly liked to move around a lot! He moved to England at the start of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.

He was inspired by the work of John Constable, who was also a landscape painter. In May 1871 he moved to Zaandam in the Netherlands, before moving back to his home country in France in November 1871.

Monet married Camille Doncieux in 1870. They had two children and Camille died of tuberculosis aged just 32. That’s terrible!

Money nearly went blind with cataracts. Cataracts make your eyes go all blurry. Luckily he didn’t and had some surgery to remove them.

Before his operation all his paintings were redder than after he had his operation. How weird is that?

Monet paintings redder with cataracts

Monet and The Impressionist Movement

Claude Monet was the founder of the impressionist movement. The impressionist movement was all about capturing movement and changing light and color.

He did this in his paintings, and was less concerned about the paintings actually looked real.

He wanted to paint how humans look upon a scene, rather than what is actually there. How interesting is that?

He is probably most well-known for his series of paintings of water lilies, but he also painted many other landscapes and seascapes.

He produced a series of paintings of weeping willows – a tribute to the fallen French soldiers in World War 1.

Monet died on 5th December 1926. He had lung cancer and was 86. He is buried in the Giverny cemetery.

Paintings by Claude Monet now sell for tens of millions of pounds. He produced more than 1000 individual paintings during his career. Whoa…that is a lot of money and a lot of paintings too!

At one point, before his paintings started to sell, he became so upset about his financial situation he tried to commit suicide. Luckily he didn’t succeed!

He once said “Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.”

Those are our top facts about Claude Monet. Have we left anything out that you know about him?


8. Francisco de Goya

Francisco de Goya was certainly a painter with a difference.

He was well known for his dark colors and paintings and also for never trying to make someone look better when he painted them…he always painted them exactly as he saw them!

Some people didn’t really like this.

Read on for some interesting facts about this interesting painter.

Francisco_de_Goya facts

Early Life

Francisco de Goya was born in Aragón, Spain, on March 30, 1746.

His dad was a guilder, and his family was middle class so they didn’t have a whole load of money but they were comfortable.

At the age of 14, he became an apprentice to José Luzán, another Spanish painter, but he wasn’t with him for long as the family decided to move to Madrid.

In Madrid he studied with Anton Raphael Mengs, and spent a few years working with him. He failed all his exams with Mengs unfortunately! Ah, that’s a bit sad.

He applied to the Royal Academy of Art in 1763, but they said no way to him, based on the fact that he didn’t have enough experience. He applied again in 1766, but was rejected again for the same reason.

His Life as an Artist 

Goya painted his first work of art in the late 1760’s at the Basilica of the Pillar in Zaragota, Spain.

He was living there at the time, and they just needed a few artists to help finish the job they had been working on for some time, so he was called in to help out!

On July 25, 1773, Francisco married Josefa. She was a niece to one of the people at the Royal Academy of Art. Goya reapplied again just after their honeymoon, and was accepted. In 1775.

He then went to work for the Royal Tapestry Workshop. The tapestries he designed became some of the best around, and he started doing them for people who wanted tapestries in their homes.

In 1783, Goya got his first big break. He had to paint a portrait of Count Floridablanca, which all the rich and famous people just loved.

He was asked to do more portraits, and in 1786, at the age of 40, he was appointed painter to King Charles III and then became court painter for King Charles IV in 1789.

Wow, he sure started to get noticed!

During 1792, Goya got a disease called cholera, and it left him deaf! How sad is that?

Because of this he never went out or did anything, except for doing his duty as the court painter.

He started to etch and printed his Caprichos series. The most famous one is ‘The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters’.

It’s an etching of a boy with his face in his arms, and a giant winged monster flying behind him. All his etchings had a dark, eerie feeling to them due to a certain process he used.

de Goya - the sleep of reason produces monsters

Francisco the Court Painter

He got another really big break in 1799, when he was given the position of first court painter. He received a salary of 50,000 reales, and 500 ducats.

The next year, he painted one of his most famous paintings, ‘Charles IV of Spain and His Family’.

The picture is of the Royal family, but being Goya he painted just what he saw and rather unfortunately they were not very good looking.

The Grandmother in the back is shown with her huge birth mark, which covered most of her face. Charles IV is painted as the big man he was, and his wife looks like a toad with black hair.


Surprisingly, after producing this ‘ugly’ painting he was still kept on as court painter!

In 1814, he painted his most famous painting; ‘The Third of May 1808’. In it, soldiers are shooting innocent people – all men – with the town’s Catholic Church behind them.

This was based on a true story, when Napoleon had his soldiers come to Spain, and kill townsfolk, to try and force them to let him rule.

Napoleon failed in the end, luckily and this painting was to remember the event. How awful!

Not long after, Goya started what he called the ‘Black paintings.’ His most famous,Saturn Devouring One of his Children, is painted on his living room walls.

During this time most of his paintings looked really scary and frightening.

He moved to Paris in 1824, to try to get away from Spain, but returned in 1826.

He got sick and moved to Bordeaux, France, where he died in 1828, at the age of 82.

Wow, he certainly had quite an interesting life didn’t he? Now you’ve got all the facts you could ever need about Francisco de Goya.


9. Caravaggio

Caravaggio was born as Michelangelo Merisi in Italy around 1571. He was orphaned at age 11 and apprenticed, which means worked under to learn, with a painter in Milan.

He moved to Rome, where his work became popular for some of the interesting techniques he used, which used shadow to emphasize lighter areas.

His career, however, didn’t last that long. Caravaggio killed a man during a brawl and fled to Rome. Wow, he certainly wasn’t a pleasant man was he?

He died not long after, on July 18, 1610. 

Caravaggio facts

Caravaggio’s Early Years

We don’t know too much about Caravaggio’s early family life. His father, Fermo Merisi, was the steward and architect of the marquis of Caravaggio.

When Caravaggio was six, the bubonic plague killed almost everyone in his family, including his father. That is so sad!

At the age of 11, Caravaggio moved to Milan and began apprenticing with the painter Simone Peterzano.

In his late teens, maybe as early as 1588, Caravaggio moved to Rome with absolutely no money.

To make sure he had food he worked with other painters, and in fact most of them weren’t as talented as he was.

But he jumped from job to job and never really found what he wanted to do.

But, in about 1595, he decided to work on his own and started selling his paintings through a dealer.

His work soon caught the attention of Cardinal Francesco del Monte, who adored Caravaggio’s paintings and quickly set him up in his own house, with room, board and a pension. Phew, lucky for him!

Caravaggio was one quick painter that’s for sure. He normally completed each painting in around 2 weeks! That’s quite something for a painting.

By the time he had been ‘found’ by del Monte, he had already painted 40 paintings. These included ‘Boy with a Basket of Fruit,’ ‘The Young Bacchus’ and ‘The Music Party.’

Most of his early work had chubby, pretty young boys done up as angels or his favorite saint, John the Baptist.


Interesting Facts about Caravaggio

Caravaggio had a violent temper and he often got into fights.  As we mentioned, he even killed a man in 1606 and then fled to Rome.

At one point Caravaggio had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope. Wow, that’s kinda scary!

Carvaggio’s full name was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio or Michelangelo Merisi from Caravaggio.  Wow, now that’s a long name – can you say it all?

Caravaggio is a small town in northern Italy, near Milan where Caravaggio was born and from where he took his nickname.

At the age of 39, Caravaggio died on July 18, 1610, at Porto Ecole on the coast of Tuscany, Italy.

Only about 50 of Caravaggio’s paintings can be seen in their original condition.

Caravaggio sometimes placed his own face in his paintings.  He was the face of Goliath in his painting David with the head of Goliath.

Caravaggio only signed one of his paintings, La Decollazione di San Giovanni Battista, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.

Caravaggio and some of his famous paintings can be seen on the front and back of old Italian Lire banknotes.

In 2010, scientists stated that they believed with 85% certainty that they had discovered the bones of Caravaggio.

Unlike other painters, Caravaggio worked directly onto the canvas.

Caravaggio’s career lasted only 13 years.That sure is a short time!

So now you know all there is to know about this very interesting painter Caravaggio. Not sure we would like to have bumped into him in a dark street, in case he was in a bad mood!


10. Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was a fascinating artist who became famous after he died. He was most famous for Starry Night, The Bedroom, Irises and Sunflowers.

He certainly lived a very interesting life.

Here we take a look at some amazing facts about this incredible man.


Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. He was named after his grandfather and his brother who died at birth one year before Van Gogh was born.

His stillborn brother was also named Vincent van Gogh.

Before this famous painter started creating his works of art he wanted to be a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church just like his father.

He also had a number of other jobs before he started painting full time. He was a teacher in London, worked in a book store and worked in an art gallery.

Van Gogh was 27 years old when he painted his first piece.

When he first began painting, he used peasants as models and also used very dark colors like black, grey and dark greens.

He would later paint flowers, landscapes and himself, mostly because he was too poor to pay any models.

He was also very good friends with another famous artist, Paul Gauguin.

He painted over 900 paintings in the space of just 10 years. Wow, that is a LOT of paintings over such a short period of time! He clearly loved what he was doing.

When he was working he would often forget to eat as he was so involved in his work. His health obviously wasn’t very good because of this. We all know how important it is to eat properly!

Besides not eating, he also suffered from a disease where he got lots of seizures, which had to do with his brain. That’s not cool!

During one of his seizures he tried to attack his good friend Paul Gauguin with an open razor. That’s not too cool.

After that he landed up cutting off a part of his own ear, not his whole ear like many people believe.

Unbelievably he only sold one painting in his lifetime, called ‘The Red Vineyard’. Like many painters he only became famous after he died.

During his life he wrote over 800 letters. Most of them were to this brother Theo, who was also his closest friend.

Van Gogh’s Most Famous Painting

Vincent van Gogh was what we would call a little bit mad! Because of this he landed up staying in a mental hospital in France.

While he was there he painted his most famous painting ‘The Starry Night’.


How did Vincent van Gogh Die?

No one is really sure how he died, but there are two rumors.

One was that he shot himself in a wheat field in France but didn’t die until two days later. The other rumor was that two boys shot him.

He was only 37 at the time. His brother Theo was by his side when he died and said that Vincent’s last words were “La tristesse durera toujours,” which means “the sadness will last forever.”

Vincent’s brother Theo died only six months after Vincent. He is buried next to him in France. At least they were together!

After Vincent died, his brother’s wife collected all of his paintings and letters and she dedicated herself to getting his work the fame he deserved. Clearly her hard work paid off!

Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese prints and woodcuts which he studied very deeply.

In some of his paintings of himself his ear is bandaged from when he cut it. It looks like his right ear in the pictures because he was using a mirror to paint himself, but it was actually his left ear that was cut.

You can see the painting Starry Night at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

He was most definitely an interesting artist with a very different life. Do you know any other facts about this famous painter?