Famous Art Saved From Destruction

by Aileen Mitchell 19. November 2015 17:11

This November we keep the theme of Guy Fawkes’ Night running as we look back at some key pieces of art that were so close to being destroyed.

Marcel Duchamp - Fountain


Whenever a revolutionary piece of art comes along, there’s always a bit of turbulence. Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal was not only urinated on by a performance artist but almost smashed to bits by a hammer several years later … by the same artist!

Rembrandt van Rijn – Danae


One of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings, Danae, narrowly avoided melt-down whilst it was on display in the 1980’s. Hanging in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, one visitor took out a knife and began to slash the canvas around the figure’s stomach, throwing acid onto the painting before being escorted from the gallery. Twelve years later, Danae was restored to its original form by a dedicated team of artists, and remains on display.

Ilya Repin – Ivan Grozny and his son Ivan


This disaster proves that ‘taking a few backups’ applies to us all, not just the world of IT. After receiving three large gouges from a knife on the faces of the two Ivans, the painting was restored by two experts in under a week! It is thought the speed and expertise of the repair was greatly assisted by many good-quality photographs of the painting.

Leonardo da Vinci – The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist

The work from the famous Mona Lisa artist took almost a year to restore after a gallery visitor shooting at it in political protest. The painting, The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist was on display at the National Gallery in London behind protective glass. Although the glass did not break, the shattered splinters from the blast caused significant damage to the painting. It is now fully restored.

Picasso – Le Reve

The first Picasso to be accidentally damaged was Le Reve, a painting of his mistress Marie-Therese Walter. The owner of the work and casino magnate was due to sell the painting for a cool $139 million dollars before leaning on it and piercing the picture with his right elbow. Luckily, he was able to provide the funds of $90,000 for its repair.



Art History

Moving art for Remembrance Sunday 2015

by Aileen Mitchell 13. November 2015 15:49

After the breathtakingly beautiful poppy display by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper at the Tower of London last year, more art is being made for Remembrance Sunday than ever. Once again, art becomes a way of expressing poignancy in all manner of styles and forms.

In the spirit of sharing art to commemorate the occasion, we have found that many of our own gallery members have produced works of art featuring poppies.  

Jean Tatton Jones - Remembrance

Jean Tatton’s piece, ‘Remembrance’, is a bold painting that demands the attention of the room. The semi-abstract acrylic is painted in silvers, whites and reds. The poppies around the bottom of the frame leave a stark sky that creates a space for reflection.

Deborah Norville - Summer Dreams


Deborah Norville creates a calm landscape background with a soft brush, bringing the poppies into full focus with palette knife detail.

Amanda Dagg - Field of Heroes

Amanda Dagg’s mix-media tryptic inspires reflection. The monochrome landscape contrasting with the vibrancy of the poppies showcases the poignancy of the scene. Creating a painting in three parts really creates an impact, wherever it is hung. 

Paula Horsley - Abstract Poppies (Sculptural)


Paula Horsley has created a fascinating dimension to her canvas by using resin in her painting. This gives it an almost sculptural feel up close and like a mosaic from further away. These poppies can be a pleasing abstract up close, and a summery image of a field of poppies from a distance.

Carol Wood - Red Sky at Night

There is plenty of depth to the painting, ‘Red Sky at Night’, by Carol Wood. The smooth background and layered grass in the foreground is very dramatic.

Tracy Jolly - Red Poppy Fields

Breaking away from the popular monochrome used to depict poppies, Tracy Jolly uses gold in her painting. The thick lines that make the flowers have an almost sculptural quality to them.

Angie Wright - Where Poppies Blow

Angie Wright left this as the description for her painting, ‘Where Poppies Blow’:

'The poppies sway in the breeze, a symbol of those who have lost their lives fighting for their country. I wanted to create a painting which recognised the lives of those men and women who are now lost to us. They were real people, who were loved and in turn loved. They laughed and cried and felt the sun on their skin. In this painting there is a sky which was full of sorrow for those soldiers, a sky which drips down the canvas, like heavy rain. There is still light and joy in the painting though, seen by the flowers dancing in the wind to signify the life and energy of those now lost to us.'



5 Famous Paintings With Hidden Meanings

by Christie Cluett 2. November 2015 15:43

After ‘The Da Vinci Code’ became a best-selling phenomenon, conspiracy theorists and historians the world over joined as one to study the art world looking for secrets. With a helping hand from the internet, a huge number of attention-grabbing theories about famous paintings have risen to prominence ever since.

There has, of course, been a huge number of crackpot philosophies, which the more rationale minded of us have rightly debunked. That said, not all theories about secret messages in art are crazy – far from it, in fact. To prove this, here are five famous paintings with hidden meanings that both convince and astound in equal measure.


1. L. S Lowry’s ‘Matchstick Men’ Paintings


Above: An Accident, painted by L.S. Lowry in 1926. Image by Ben Sutherland

Lowry’s paintings are famous for depicting scenes of mid-20th Century working life in North West England. Characterised by a distinctive style that portrayed ‘matchstick men’ in industrialised urban settings, the art fraternity dismissed the merit of Lowry’s paintings for many years.

However, decades after the artist’s death, it is now clear there is a lot more to Lowry’s well-known works than first meets the eye. In the vast majority of the artist’s paintings, there are a multitude of ‘blink and you’ll miss them flashes’ of human suffering hidden within the everyday scenes of industrial England.

Take the 1926 painting An Accident, for example. In this picture (featured above) you will see a large group of people staring into a lake. This might seem perfectly mundane. However, a genuine local suicide actually inspired the painting, and the matchstick men are all gathered to look at a waterlogged corpse.

Within Lowry’s body of work, this is not an isolated example – fist fights, people being evicted from their homes and illustrations of isolation are all common. Meanwhile, each painting’s remaining matchstick men continue to get on with their daily lives, almost unaware of the suffering on their doorstep.

The hidden message? We’re all alone and our pain is meaningless. Despite the chasm of difference between industrial England and modern life, for many, the hidden messages imbued within Lowry’s work are as true today as when the artist first put paint to canvas.  


2. Michelangelo, The Sistine Chapel Ceiling


Above: The Sistine Chapel celling, the Vatican. Image by Matthew Riley

 The Renaissance period was a time of great learning and discovery, inspired by a throwback to the ancient Greek spirit of scientific inquiry. It was also a period where many artists loved to hide a few mysteries in their work for the eagle-eyed viewer – and Michelangelo was no different.

For those that don’t know, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting tells the story of the book of Genesis across nine sections. However, the subtext to this painting’s narrative is arguably more interesting than the well-thumbed Bible story at the forefront.

Michelangelo was a genius artist, sculptor and architect – however, fewer people know that he was also an expert anatomist. At the age of 17, Michelangelo began dissecting corpses from the church graveyard, with the intention of producing anatomical sketches and notes. 

What has become clear over 500 years later, is that the skills Michelangelo developed during this time were put to good use when painting the Sistine Chapel.

Concealed within the robes and the faces of the figures that Michelangelo painted, American scientists have found several anatomical sketches. This includes an image of the brain, cleverly hidden in the representation of God’s neck and chin in the section entitled ‘Separation of Light from Darkness.

Are you asking yourself why Michelangelo felt compelled to hide anatomical sketches in his work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Well, a growing body of theorists believe it was the artist’s attempt at a clandestine attack on the church’s contempt for science.


3. Vincent Van Gogh, Cafe Terrace At Night


Above: Vincent Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night. Image from Wikimedia Commons

For many, Cafe Terrace at Night is one of Van Gogh’s most important paintings. If you look at the painting, like most, you’ll probably see an ordinary, unremarkable scene – albeit one painted with the artist’s trademark magic touch. Yet many believe the picture is actually a portrayal of the Last Supper.

So, let’s take a look at the evidence that points to this conclusion. First of all, as the son of a protestant minister, Van Gogh was very religious. For this reason, many art critics believe that many of Van Gogh’s seminal paintings displayed a binary relationship between art and Christian imagery. For many, Cafe Terrace At Night offers the best example of this theory.

The Last Supper is the final meal that Jesus sat down to eat with his 12 disciples. If you count them, Van Gogh’s painting clearly portrays 12 people sitting down to eat, with a long haired central figure standing among them.

Coincidence? Maybe. But when you take into account the number of hidden crosses in the painting – including one above the Christ-like figure – all the evidence points to the assertion that this painting truly is Van Gogh’s artistic expression of the Last Supper.


4. Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper


Above: Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous The Last Supper. Image by ideacreamanuelaPps

From Van Gogh’s pseudo Last Supper to the real thing. And we’re not talking about the Dan Brown world of cryptograms revealing the secret life of Jesus here. Instead, we’re focusing on a hidden message that will bring music to your ears – literally.

If you look at Da Vinci’s Last Supper (above), you will see a series of bread rolls that run across the centre of the painting. A few years ago, a musician found that by drawing the five lines of a musical staff across the painting, the bread rolls in combination with the Apostles’ hands lined up to make musical notes.

When read from right to left, which adheres to Da Vinci’s unique writing style, the notes combine to make a tuneful 40-second composition. Even disbelievers have admitted that the composition’s note perfect harmony is too good to be a coincidence. Plus, in true polymath-style, Da Vinci was an expert musician, as well as a painter, sculptor and inventor.


5. Diego Rivera, Man, Controller Of The Universe


Above: Diego Rivera’s 1934 mural, Man, Controller of the Universe. Image by Joaquín Martínez

Nelson Rockefeller originally commissioned Mexican artist Diego Rivera to paint Man at the Crossroads for the Rockefeller Centre in New York. But when he took exception to the painting’s depiction of the Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, he had it destroyed.

Diego Rivera eventually repainted the mural in Mexico City, and renamed it Man, Controller of the Universe. Yet upon its reconstruction, Rivera went ahead and made one key addition – a depiction of Nelson Rockefeller’s father under a bacterial interpretation of syphilis.

Therefore, the hidden meaning of this painting becomes immediately clear: Nelson Rockefeller’s father had syphilis. To hammer the insult home, Rivera also painted Rockefeller – a famed teetotal – holding a martini, while standing next to a woman who could easily be a prostitute. Oh, and Lenin was also given even more prominence in the reimagining of this painting.


Do our featured artists hide secret messages in their paintings? In all honesty, we haven’t got a clue. But by visiting the ArtGallery.co.uk homepage and using the search tool on the right, you might just find a painting that brings out the art detective in you.


The Latest Exhibition at Malvern Theatres - 25 October - 6 December

by Humph Hack 25. October 2015 15:55

If you talked to 20 artists, you would find they would give you as many reasons, as to why they create. Some would say they only work to satisfy themselves, others because they have the need to share their thoughts and emotions. Some are introspective, others more gregarious.  The one thing they all seem to have in common, is the desire to show their work in public. Malvern Theatres is seen as a great place to exhibit, partly due to the high number of people who pass through the building and partly because the venue is about art, in all its forms.

Brian Richardson is Malvern based. When painting, he finds that music has the ability to motivate and relax, enabling the analytical side of his brain to be suspended, and his psychological state to enter "the zone" or "flow" more readily. His hands and eyes do the painting without influence from the analytical mind. Sometimes he initiates. At other times he listens, harnessing his emotions to arrange elements until he "knows" what works; when to stop. The canvas itself is rarely static, moving from upright on the easel to horizontal on the floor, and all angles between as the mood dictates.

Brian is influenced by the paintings and writings of Turner, Blake, Kandinsky, Klee, and last but not least, his Grandchildren.

His paintings can be found in public and private collections in U.K., U.S.A., Spain, and New Zealand.

David Shiers is a Wirral based artist. He has worked in various studios as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator, exhibiting widely around the country. The only tuition he received was from attending Liverpool College of Art life drawing classes, on an evening basis over a period of four years. He turned professional in 2003.

Since going full time, he spends a lot of time painting on location in the Wirral, Southern France and Spain. His working process is based on a series of Plein Air watercolour sketches and digital photographs, then finally working up to the finished painting; much inspired by works of the Post Impressionists, Pissaro, Monet, Cezanne and Sisley.

His painting is all about capturing the light, atmosphere and essence of a subject. He has a fast and spontaneous approach to his painting producing work in an expressive and impressionistic style. He works in oils and mixed media, combining watercolour, acrylic, oil pastel and gouache.



Jools Lawley lives and works in Worcester. What started out as serene, single figure pastel drawings have evolved over the years into these unique and quirky characters that have become her signature calligraphic style. Hand drawn in black ink or painted in acrylic on white backgrounds, Jools distinctive stylised works owe their inspiration to the elongated figurines of Giacometti which she saw on her first ever visit to the Tate gallery as a teenager! “Combine those with the sculptural work of Henry Moore and transfer them into two dimensional sketches and this is what you get!”

Her monochrome, imaginative compositions range from folk bands, jazz bands and rock bands to golfers, surfers and horse riders. She is continually on the look-out for new inspirational characters and challenging scenarios.

Jools commissioned work has grown in popularity and incorporates personalised features where first name initials are worked into the swirls of the feet and significant possessions are added to identify individual characters. They are a mixture of framed drawings and paintings on canvas. All the paintings in this show come into the second category.

If you like Jools’ style and would like your own piece commissioned just contact Jools through this website,

The exhibition is open every day until 6 December. It’s a great place to look for an early Christmas present.



Artist of the Year Competition 2015

by Aileen Mitchell 10. October 2015 17:43

We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2015 ArtGallery.co.uk Artist of the Year competition.

Artists will qualify for the qualifying phase of the competition on the basis of the number of website visitors who click on the "Make Favourite" button on their gallery page. A £1,000 prize is available to the winner, £250 to the two Highly Commended entries and of course the successful artists will be recognised on on the ArtGallery.co.uk website.

Please do click on the “ Make Favourite” button on as many of your favourite artists as you wish.

The qualifying competition tables will be updated on the Competition Page in real time - so keep an eye on the progress of your favourite artists.

Artist of the Year Competition 2015

Use the Make Favourite button to vote for an artist


Shining A Spotlight On Juan Sly

by Christie Cluett 8. October 2015 10:57


Juan Sly is an artist that mainly works with spray stencils and oils. His art channels a wide spectrum of themes from sex to surreal                                             to humour to anti-war. He has exhibited at the Saatchi alongside the likes of Banksy and has permanent collections at the Cut-Up                                             in Germany and Outside the Square, opposite the Tate, London. Here’s what he had to say when we interviewed him:

Describe a typical day in your life as an artist

Juan Sly: It typically starts in the bar of some hotel somewhere; I spill my drink on some hawt chick in a tight, black dress. Usually, I find out she is in trouble somehow, her brother has disappeared which "just isn't like him", and the police won't help. Anyway, I can never refuse a hawt chick in distress so I help her and....well, things move on from there...

Where do you gather inspiration for your artwork? 

JS: I mainly just copy other people's paintings and do them much cheaper. Luckily, I'm rubbish and nobody notices the similarities.


Above: ‘Bollard Bombas by Juan Sly

What was the first piece of art you created and the first piece of art you sold?

JS: I was a child prodigy and painted some lupins. The school didn't believe me, saying my parents had done it. This was totally unfair as they were out at the time. I wised up and just painted simplistic nonsense like the other children and haven't looked back since. 

I once kicked my football in a neighbour's garden and he wouldn't give it back. I was going through my surrealistic period at the time, so I sprayed a huge phallus coming out of a stick man's head on his side wall. He eventually sold his house and moved, so I guess that was the first painting that was sold.

Take your pick out of those.

What is the most important piece of equipment in your artist’s tool box?

JS: I don't think I can answer that question without coming up with a script for a new ‘Carry on’ film?!

How has ArtGallery.co.uk helped you progress your artistic career?

JS: I met one of the girls from ArtGallery.co.uk in a hotel bar in a small town in Gloucestershire. She bumped into me and I spilled my drink down her tight, black dress. Her brother had gone missing and the police were no help. She asked me to help – she was hawt and I can never resist a hawt chick...


Above: ‘What! Zebra. On The Daily Telegraph’ by Juan Sly

If you’re interested of owning a slice of the mad world inhabited this unique artist, then take a look at Juan Sly’s ArtGallery.co.uk profile today.



5 Brilliant Holiday Destinations For Street Art Lovers

by Christie Cluett 23. September 2015 11:52

When visiting many cities, it’s easy to think that the municipal government must have got a bargain price on boring grey paint. Consequently, street artists from around the world have taken it upon themselves to introduce a splash of colour to urban areas in dire need of a facelift.

Yet alongside an appetite for vibrancy, urban art also seeks to reflect the socio-economic factors that shape any city. For this reason, street art offers the ideal prism from which to view the issues and concerns that truly affect and concern the local populace.

So if you’re a traveller looking for an authentic taste of city life, here, in no particular order, are five brilliant holiday destinations for street art lovers.


Above: Street art that formed part of the Crono Project curated by Vhils. Image by Bosc d'Anjou

 The Portuguese capital’s street art scene is world famous. And the main man responsible for this is Alexandre Farto, who is known internationally as Vhils. He has played a key role in transforming the city’s most rundown neighbourhoods, by inviting internationally renowned street artists to create huge murals across Lisbon.

The most impressive examples borne from this project live in the area that surrounds Picoas Metro Station. However, the spiralling streets of Alfama and the Lisbon waterfront are also home to some of the finest street art that Europe has to offer.



Above: Part of the East Side Gallery, which covers the old Berlin Wall. Image by SarahTz

Arguably, Berlin is the street art capital of Europe. Throughout the city, you will find examples of striking urban art everywhere – from doorways and walls to the sides of houses. However, there are a handful of areas within the city where street artists have essentially ‘taken over’.

Kreuzberg is Berlin’s unofficial centre point for all things bohemian, and boasts a veritable bounty of street art masterpieces. Meanwhile, Berlin’s legendary East Wall Gallery covers around half a mile of what was once the Berlin Wall. Here you will find a myriad of politically-driven paintings that represent freedom and hope, at the same time as providing a reminder of Germany’s turbulent past.



Above: Three murals from Brick Lane, London. Image by Loco Steve

You don’t need a passport in order to experience the world’s best metropolitan murals. This is because a simple jaunt to our capital city can provide all the graffiti-based gratification you’ll need.

A great place to start is next to Waterloo station, where there’s an authorised art tunnel that provides an ideal appetiser to the street art movement that has engulfed the city.  After that, you should check out Brick Lane, where some of the planet’s best purveyors of urban art – such as Banksy and Ben Eine – have left their mark.


New York


Above: Eduardo Kobra street art on the west side of Manhattan, New York City. Image by Nan Palmero

For street art, the Big Apple is where it all began. Thus, every self-respecting street artist that has ever held a can of spray paint in anger has, at some point, left their mark in the city that never sleeps. However, the more free-spirited areas of Greenpoint and Bushwicke are where you will find the most surreal designs.

As the popularity of street art has grown, city planners have generally become more accommodating of guerrilla artists. Therefore, New York is now home to a huge number of tours that will ensure you won’t miss the best urban murals the city has to offer.



Above: Urban art at Calle Del Embudo - Bogota, Colombia. Image by Ricardo Quintero

Columbia and Bogota’s tumultuous history and current state of political unrest provides inspiration for some of the world’s most vibrant and diverse street art. Conveying messages of civil war and institutionalised corruption, the city’s most remarkable murals are as volatile as they are beautiful.

Without a doubt, the best way to experience and understand the work of Bogota’s various artists is to take the free graffiti walking tour. This starts at the heart of the city, at 10am, every day.

However, Bogota’s biggest breakthrough artist is StinkFish, who now sells canvases of his work for huge amounts of money and produces commissioned pieces around the world.

Fancy owning a piece of street art-inspired artwork to hang in your home or office? Then simply visit the ArtGallery.co.uk homepage and use the search tool on the right to find urban art to match your taste and budget.


The Autumn Exhibition in Malvern Theatres

by Humph Hack 13. September 2015 15:21

One of the joys of curating exhibitions at Malvern Theatres, is discovering new talent and giving those artists exposure to a much wider audience than before. This doesn’t have to be artists who are just starting out on their creative journey.

 A good case in point is Jill Lloyd. Her first successes in Art were whilst she was still at School. However, her art fell onto the 'back burner' as she led a busy and active life which involved a great deal of travelling.

 Some years ago, a chance meeting re-kindled Jill's interest, making her turn to painting once again. Now she paints avidly and with a passion and says she feels 'driven to paint'.

 This liveliness is very apparent in her work and she uses brush and palette knife to produce her pictures. She has a great love of colour and whilst she likes to paint traditionally, finds herself drawn to abstracting her work and painting in an Impressionistic style.

Similarly, colour and vitality epitomise the work of David Stevens.

He is mostly self-taught, having always loved art from childhood, it is only in the last few years he has devoted more time to his passion.

David uses acrylics in an abstract style, attempting to conjure something which has vibrancy and intrigue. He aims to draw the viewer into the piece. Preferring to suggest rather than show a realistic representation, his aim is to trigger your imagination, drawing inspiration from the beauty of nature and its many forms. His work often depicts a sense of movement capturing something wholly original.

Whereas Jill and David have not shown in Malvern before, Gill Stokes has shown her work there several times. She studied Fine Art after leaving school, but then decided to train as a primary school teacher, still painting and drawing in what little spare time she could find. She now paints full time. She is fascinated by the natural world and by the effects of changing light. She likes to draw and sketch outside whenever possible, but it is often more practical to make sketches and photographs and complete the painting in the studio.

She has exhibited in many galleries across the country including The Kings Place Gallery, London; Weston Park Gallery, Staffordshire; The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery, Birmingham; The Shirehall Gallery, Stafford; Keele University Gallery; The Octagon Centre, Sheffield; and The Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead.

This show runs every day from 13th August until 25th October.


Shining A Spotlight On Paul Burgess

by Christie Cluett 7. September 2015 13:59

Paul Burgess was born and bought up in the Wye Valley, near the market town of Chepstow. Having spent the eighties and nineties working mainly in pastels, after a chance meeting with two Buddhist nuns in 2003, he decided to spend several years in meditative retreat at a Buddhist monastery. And this experience has been influencing his art ever since. Here’s what Paul had to say to ArtGallery.co.uk about his work:  


Describe a typical day in your life as an artist

Paul Burgess: I don’t really have a typical day, each day is different. I usually have several paintings on the go at any one time, so my day is determined by which one I`m working on and the stage it`s at.

I have to be in the right frame of mind to paint, it`s not something I can do mechanically, and if I don`t feel the connection with the piece, I won`t touch it. I`ll go and do something else until it feels right to start painting. It does lead to my working day being unpredictable, but I like that, it stops me from taking things for granted and keeps me interested.


Where do you gather inspiration for your artwork? 

PB: I draw my inspiration from the landscape I find myself in and the connection I feel with it. I love exploring woodland in particular because it’s where I feel the connection the most. I can often be found out and about at dawn, searching for those spectacular early morning scenes with beautiful strong natural light.


Above: ‘Muted Blues & Dappled Light’ by Paul Burgess


What was the first piece of artwork you created and the first piece you sold?

PB: Is there every really a first piece of artwork? Most of us are making marks at a very early age, so personally I see it as more of a natural progression rather than a definitive beginning.

The first piece of artwork I sold was a 3D painting of a local church, which was painted on glass in enamels with a separate watercolour background. Everything was outlined and there wasn’t a straight line anywhere. I seem to remember selling it for £25 back in the 70s.

What is the most important piece of equipment in your artist`s toolbox?

PB: There isn’t one thing in my artist’s toolbox that is more important than anything else. Everything is equally important as I need it all to do what I do.


Above: ‘Wentwood Limited Edition’ Print by Paul Burgess

If you could own any piece of artwork what would it be?

PB: It would be virtually impossible to choose just one piece from all the amazing artworks in the world. One that has always stood out for me though is ‘Fumee d`Ambre Gris’ by John Singer Sargent. I love Sargent`s work, and this is one of my favourites because of its beautifully subtle elegance. I could imagine staring at it for hours on end if it was hanging on my wall.

How has ArtGallery.co.uk helped you progress your artistic career?

PB: ArtGallery.co.uk have been instrumental in the development of my work, by giving me the support I`ve needed to allow my work to evolve naturally. They have tirelessly promoted my work since I joined them in 2011, which has brought my style of painting to the attention of many more private buyers and collectors.

Are you interested in hanging an artwork by this amazing artist on your own wall? Then take a look at Paul Burgess’ ArtGallery.co.uk profile now.


Art and Morality: Exposing the Most Evil Artists Ever

by Christie Cluett 26. August 2015 14:32

For many, the ultimate purpose of art is to create joy by producing beauty. However, masked behind the striking façade of many artworks there lies a darkness. With this thought in mind, here is the tale of five artists whose propensity for evil is as great as their undoubted creative talent.



 ‘David with the Head of Goliath’ by Caravaggio

Above: ‘David with the Head of Goliath’. Note that the painting depicts a young Caravaggio holding the head of an older Caravaggio. Image by Katexic Publications

Caravaggio’s work had a profound influence on many generations of painters because of its innovative use of Chiaroscuro tones, which provide a strong contrast between light and dark. However, the light and dark shades that characterised Caravaggio's paintings also perfectly mirrored his personality.

On one hand, you had the man that became the protégé of a cardinal, who could comfortably mix with the highest echelons of Italian society. On the other, you had a man that would often keep company with vagrants and roam the streets armed with a sword and dagger. 

As his fame and ego grew in tandem, the darker side of Caravaggio’s personality started to become prominent. And as a result of his trigger-hair temper, he was repeatedly arrested for various misdemeanours – from slashing the cloak of a rival to throwing a plate of artichokes at a waiter.

Inevitably, during one such altercation, Caravaggio ended up killing another man during a fight in a Piazza. While on the run, he painted a series of works that seemed to reflect his guilt, including his famed self-portrait as the severed head of Goliath.


Richard Dadd

‘The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke’ by Richard Dadd

Above: ‘The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke’ by Richard Dadd, which is currently on loan to Watts Gallery, Compton. Image by The Public Domain Review

Born in 1817, Richard Dadd was an English painter of the Victorian era, who won acclaim for his depictions of fairies and other supernatural objects. During his time studying at the Royal Academy of Arts, Dadd founded The Clique – a group of British artists that included William Powell Frith, Augustus Egg and others.

In July of 1842, Dadd accompanied a crew led by Sir Thomas Phillips as a draftsman on an expedition through Europe to Greece, Turkey, Southern Syria and finally Egypt. Towards the end of the trip, Dadd underwent a dramatic personality change. After his condition was originally diagnosed as sunstroke, Dadd started to become violent and declared himself under the direct influence of the Egyptian God Osiris.    

Upon his return to England in the spring of 1843, Dadd was, unsurprisingly, diagnosed to be of unsound mind and body. In a bid to help Dadd get better, his family took him to the village of Cobham to recuperate. However, after becoming convinced that his father was the devil in disguise, Dadd killed him and fled for France.

While trying to reach Paris, Dadd attempted to kill a tourist with a razor, but was fortunately overpowered by the police. After confessing to killing his father, the authorities returned Dadd to England, where he was committed to the criminal department of Bethlem psychiatric hospital and later Broadmoor hospital.


Walter Sickert

‘Jack the Ripper's Bedroom’ by Walter Richard Sickert

Above: ‘Jack the Ripper's Bedroom’ by Walter Richard Sickert. Image from Wikipedia

Born in Munich, Germany, Walter Richard Sickert was a painter and printmaker, who spent a long spell working in Victorian London as a member of the Camden Town Group. During this time, he became an important influencer of British styles of avant-garde and a prominent figure in the transition from Impressionism to Modernism.

Seen as an eccentric, Sickert’s work included portraits of renowned personalities. However, during his time in London, his favourite subjects became ordinary people, and he often braved the censure of the Victorian period to paint nudes and seedy nightlife scenes. 

Another of Sickert’s keen interests were the crimes of Jack the Ripper, who was terrorising London during the period of his stay. He is even believed to have lodged in a room reputedly frequented by the serial killer, where he painted a picture entitled ‘Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom’.

Years after Sickert’s death however, three books have been written and published that claim Sickert was Jack the Ripper or his accomplice. It is important to note there was no mention of Sickert being a suspect in the Ripper crimes while he was alive, and many historians have been quick to rubbish these claims. Nonetheless, the books and the theory behind Sickert’s potential double identity remain fascinating.


Benvenuto Cellini

 Metalwork by Benvenuto Cellini

Above: Metalwork by Benvenuto Cellini. Image by Fabio Venni

For many, Benvenuto Cellini is one of the best artists in precious and base metals of all time. In fact, his contemporary and fellow Florence-based artist, Michelangelo, once wrote to Cellini to tell him that he was the greatest goldsmith ever.

However, Cellini’s talent did not stop him from being a man that killed repeatedly and without remorse. First of all, he killed his brother’s murderer by driving a long and twisted dagger through the man’s shoulder. Then, after forming a taste for bloodshed, he also killed a rival goldsmith and shot dead an innkeeper in the city of Florence.

Despite this long list of offences, Cellini escaped being executed for his crimes because of the simple fact that his work was so admired throughout the city. Furthermore, Cellini has a statue erected in his honour, on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge that crosses the River Arno in the heart of Florence.


Charles Bronson   

Charles Bronson, prisoner and artist

Above: The movie ‘Bronson’ is about the famous prisoner and artist Charles Bronson (real name Michael Gordon Peterson). Image by Mikey

Thanks to a mammoth rap sheet that includes brutal attacks on prison officers and fellow inmates, Charles Bronson has earned his reputation as ‘the most violent prisoner in Britain’. His fearsome status has even spawned a film based on his life, entitled ‘Bronson’ and starring Tom Hardy.

Yet despite his dark character, Bronson, who is currently serving a life sentence at Wakefield Prison, likes to show off his artistic side. To this end, he has produced a huge number of paintings, drawings and poetry while serving time at her Majesty’s pleasure. Moreover, his work has won countless awards, been exhibited around the world and, on occasion, has fetched thousands when sold under the hammer at auction.

Would you like to own a piece of art by an up-and-coming artist? Then simply visit the ArtGallery.co.uk homepage and use the search tool on the right to find a piece that matches your taste and budget.


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