You May Know These Famous Paintings, But You Probably Didn’t Know These Facts.

Most people know these 10 über famous paintings. However, something tells me you didn’t know these surprising facts about them. Check them out, and get a whole semester’s worth of art history in just one sitting.

1.) The Mona Lisa.

Despite the popularity of Leonardo da Vinci’s master work, the subject of the Mona Lisa portrait is still unknown. Researchers believe it’s likely a woman named Lisa Gherardini. She was a member of a wealthy Florentine family. Allegedly, Leonard da Vinci’s father was friends with Gherardini’s father. Experts believe he may have commissioned the painting.

2.) The Last Supper.

In the original version of Leonardo da Vinci’s other masterpiece, Jesus’ feet are visible under the table. However in 1652, builders accidentally cut off part of the bottom of the painting while installing a doorway beneath the painting.

3.) Starry Night.

Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night is a portrait of the southern French town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Van Gogh worked on the painting while he was a patient at a mental hospital in the town.  

4.) Girl With The Pearl Earring.

The subject in the Johannes Vermeer’s painting Girl With The Pearl Earring is not known exactly. Researchers strongly suspect that the girl was his daughter, Maria.

5.) American Gothic.

When Grant Wood first planned his famous American Gothic painting, he wanted his mother as the female model. He then thought that standing for so many hours would be stressful for his mother. So, he dressed his sister as his mother to pose in her place.

6.) The Persistence of Memory.

Although Salvador Dali never explained any of his work, it’s said that the inspiration for this piece came from watching chunks of cheese melt in the sun.

7.) Autumn Rhythm (Number 30).

Abstract painter Jackson Pollock was notorious for his style of painting. He created his pieces by laying down huge canvasses and slowly dripping layers of paint on them. For this piece, Pollock used non-traditional items like sticks, knives, and trowels to drip paint onto the canvas.

8.) Campbell’s Soup Cans.

The 1962 series from pop artist Andy Warhol is actually a set of 32 different silk screened canvasses. Each creation represents one of the 32 different varieties of Campbell’s soup available at the time Warhol created the series. Since Warhol never left any instructions on how to show the pieces, the Museum of Modern Art has them currently displayed in chronological order of the soups’ release.

9.) Nighthawks.

Rumor has it that Edward Hopper based this painting off a diner located in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Hopper later stated that he based this painting off of an all-night coffee stand, and not an actual diner.

10.) The Creation of Adam.

Michelangelo painted his famous depiction of God giving life to Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel standing up. Michelangelo and his assistants invented a new type of scaffolding that allowed them to stand with ease and reach over their heads to paint the ceiling.  

(Via: Mental Floss)

Nighthawks is one of my favorite paintings, and it’s a bit disappointing to hear that it’s not based off of a real diner. The history surrounding these paintings made me look at them in a completely new way.