Category Archives: did you know

Remarkable artists: Caravaggio

Michelangelo Caravaggio was one of the greatest painters of all time. He fine tuned the technique of Chiaroscuro to increase drama in paintings. He influenced a lot of other painters like Rembrandt, Rubens, Vélazquez, de La Tour, Gentileschi, De Ribera…

Supper at Emmaus - Caravaggio

Did you know…?

  • Caravaggio was notorious for brawling. Because he was a famous painter, his patrons protected him from being prosecuted.
  • In 1606 he killed a man named Ranuccio Tomassoni
  • The reasons for the killing are not clear. Some say it was result of a quarrel over a gambling debt and a tennis game
  • This time his patrons couldn’t protect him anymore and he fled from Rome to Naples
  • After being the most famous Roman painter, he now became the most famous painter from Naples
  • Despite his succes, he left a few months later for Malta, to join the Knights of Malta
  • Soon he was arrested again for another fight. He wounded a knight.
  • He escaped from prison and fled to a friend in Sicily
  • All of these events couldn’t stop him from creating masterpieces and his style kept evolving
  • He became more and more bizarre: sleeping fully armed and with his clothes on, ripping up a painting at a slight word of criticism, mocking the local painters
  • He died at the age of 39. Officially he died of fever. Some people say he was murdered.
  • His influence on the history of art can hardly be exaggerated. Followers of his style are called Caravaggisti.

Amor Victorious

Amor Victorious

Self portrait as Bacchus

Self portrait as Bacchus

Judith Beheading Holofernes

Judith Beheading Holofernes

San Gerolamo

San Gerolamo

David and Goliath

David and Goliath. The head of the Giant is a self portrait.

Crucifixion of St. Peter

Crucifixion of St. Peter

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist. The head is a self portrait of the artist.

Remarkable artists: Bas Jan Ader

Bas Jan Ader was a Dutch conceptual and performance artist who disappeared in a mysterious way.

i'm too sad to tell you

Bas Jan Ader – i’m too sad to tell you

Did you know…

  • Bas Jan Ader disappeared during one of his performances:
    • His performance was titled In Search Of The Miraculous
    • in search of the miraculous

      in search of the miraculous

    • For this performance he wanted to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo
    • In 1975 he left Cape Cod in a small sailboat
    • 6 months later his boat was found in Ireland. Bas Jan Ader was vanished. No-one has heard of him since then.
    • Some people believe his disappearance is part of a performance
    • His mother had a premonition of his dead and wrote a poem about it: From the deep waters of sleep
    • In Search Of The Miraculous is a tryptich:
      1. in part one he walked to the coast of L.A.; his wife took pictures of this performance
      2. in part two he wanted to cross the Ocean from Cape Cod to Amsterdam
      3. in part three, he wanted to wander through the streets of Amsterdam
  • In the Seventies, Ader already performed Jackass stunts: in his performances he filmed himself falling from a roof or riding with his bike into a canal
  • Today, the work of Ader is recognized in the contemporary art world

What is a masterpiece?

Did you know that a masterpiece was literally a master piece: a piece of work that had to proof the creator of the masterpiece had the right skills?

Salvador Dali  - The Persistence of Time

A Dali masterpiece

In mediaval Europe guilds were formed to group craftsmen and merchants with the aim to protect their respective professions and to control the quality of the craft.
In the guilds, knowledge and experience were exchanged. New members were trained in the craft. After a thorough training, a pupil could be recognized as a craftsman with the title of “journeyman”. Everyone who wanted to settle as an independent craftsman had to proof his skill with a master piece: a sort of practical exam that showed the technical skills of the candidate master.
In the Painter’s guilds for instance, the candidate master had to create an original painting according to the guidelines of the guilds.
This painting was his masterpiece.

Gustav Klimt - The Kiss

A Klimt masterpiece

Pablo Picasso- Guernica

A Picasso masterpiece

Edward Munch - The Scream

A Munch Masterpiece

Remarkable artists – Postman Cheval

Ideal Palace

Postman Cheval – The Ideal Palace – south

Today, Ferdinand Cheval is considered to be one of the most remarkable representatives of naive architecture, but during his lifetime people thought of him as the village idiot.

Did you know…

  • the building that made him world famous is called Le Palais Idéal (the Ideal Palace)
  • he was actually a postman; people called him Facteur Cheval
  • how it all started:
    • one day in 1879, he tripped on a stone and almost fell
    • looking at the stone, he was overwhelmed by its beauty and he put the stone in his pocket
    • the stone reminded him of a dream he had a year before. In that dream he was building a palace
    • the next day he went back and found more stones. He continued to do this for 33 years
    • Cheval bound the stones together with lime, mortar and cement and so he started to build his Ideal Palace
    • he merely worked at night by the light of an oil lamp
    • Just before he died, he received recognition from André Breton and Pablo Picasso

This was the first stone he collected:

Facteur Cheval - first stone

His first stone

This is the Ideal Palace:

The Ideal Palace -Facteur Cheval

The Ideal Palace

The ideal palace

The ideal palace

Facteur Cheval - detail East

detail East

Facteur Cheval -detail - north

detail – north

  • Cheval wanted to be buried in his Ideal Palace, but this is illegal in France
  • thus, he started building a mausoleum in the same style as his Ideal palace on the local  cemetary
  • he spent 8 more years on the mausoleum
  • 1 year after he was finished, he died
  • Ferdinand “Postman” Cheval was buried in his Ideal Mausoleum

This is the mausoleum:

mausoleum Facteur Cheval


Remarkable artists – Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous painters in history, but did you know…

Vincent Van Gogh - self portrait

Vincent Van Gogh – self portrait

The Red Vineyard - Vincent Van Gogh

The Red Vineyard – Vincent Van Gogh

Portrait of Dr. Gachet

Portrait of Dr. Gachet

Van Gogh - Bedroom in Arles

Van Gogh – Bedroom in Arles

Vincent Van Gogh - The Night Cafe

The Night Cafe

Vincent Van Gogh - Starry Night

Starry Night

Vincent Van Gogh - Irises


  • Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime: The Red Vineyard. The buyer was Anna Boch, a Belgian Painter.
  • When Van Gogh’s paintings are sold today, they are among  the most expensive painitngs ever
  • At the age of 32 he went to the art academy, but was sent away after 3 months
  • He only painted 10 years, but produced 2100 art works in this period
  • His brother Theo sent him money to survive.
  • He worked as a missionary in the Borinage, a Belgian coal mining region
  • He suffered from tinnitus. As a result he heared non-existing sounds.
  • About his cut off ear:
    • Some say tinnitus was the reason why he cut of his ear: to stop the sounds in his head
    • Other sources say that he cut of his ear accidentally in a fight with Paul Gauguin, using a razor blade.
    • And yet another story tells Paul Gauguin cut of Van Gogh’s ear with a sword in a fight for a local girl
    • It is said he cut of his ear and brought it to a prostitute
  • He had periods he was very depressive and in which he had hallucinations
  • He stayed in mental institutions for this.
  • Dr Gachet treated him. A portrait from Van Gogh of dr Gachet was sold in 1990 for US$ 82.5 million
  • Officialy, he commited suicide with a revolver (but the gun was never found)