Famous Paintings, Which Were an Inspiration for Next Generations

Art in the form of painting, music, or dance is one of the purest and defining characteristics of human beings. Human beings are known to express themselves through these art forms since time immemorial.

While some of us, stop ourselves by interpreting and enjoying art, some create their own art, inspired by others. Besides, if we look down the history, this has been happening for centuries and one such instance would be Renaissance painters paying tribute to Greek art.

Hence, at this juncture, it only makes sense to look at a few of those famous paintings that have inspired other artworks. While some are homages, some work as an artist’s own inspiration, So, let’s get started.

Paul Gaugin’s Spirit of the Dead Walking

Inspired by Édouard Manet’s Olympia

In 1865, Édouard Manet debuted with his painting Olympia at the Paris salon. It caused a huge uproar among the art community and most viewers were left scandalized. While the nudity of the subject was thought to create the uproar, it was Olympia’s steely gaze and details that suggested she was a courtesan that caught people’s eye.

And this painting served as an inspiration for Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gaugin’s Spirit of the Dead that was created in 1892. According to Dr. Jeanne S.M. Willette, Paul Gaugin’s subject “flipped over opposite of Manet’s Olympia, denied the autonomy and the confrontation of the courtesan of the Salon of 1865.”

Gauguin departed for Tahiti from France in 1891. For him, Tahiti carried the promise of a “primitive paradise” that was unencumbered by the rules of contemporary society. However, Gauguin discovered that the world he had imagined did not actually exist since the island was still suffering from the effects of colonialism and modernization, and the native traditions and culture appeared to be on the verge of extinction. Through his artwork, he attempted to recreate this vanished paradise as well as the original Polynesian way of life.

Gauguin’s painting Spirit of the Dead Watching illustrates a young Tahitian girl being haunted by the Tupapa, a Polynesian ghost of the dead. The young woman in the painting was Teha’amana, Gauguin’s “native-wife” and young lover. He described the event that served as the inspiration for the picture in his Tahiti journals, Noa Noa. Frightened by the spirits, Teha’amana lies naked on her stomach in the painting, rigid and tense while glancing sideways toward the viewer.

In Spirit of the Dead Watching Gauguin wanted to represent the Polynesian fear of the Tupapaú, who is depicted as an older woman wearing a black cloak. On the back wall, there are several white forms, that Gauguin described as phosphorescent lights, which symbolize the spirits that haunt the living. Gauguin depicted the figure of the Tupapaú in a similar fashion in the painting Parau na te Varua ino (Words of the Devil) (1892). In both cases, the artist juxtaposed the fearful nude figure with the Tupapaú, which utilized cool tones that contrast the warm shades of the female nudes.

Gauguin aimed to depict his interpretation of a native Venus in Spirit of the Dead Watching, much to how Manet’s Olympia reflected a contemporary manifestation of Venus. Gauguin drew various variations of the subject in drawings and woodblock prints, and he even included it in the backdrop of the painting Self-portrait in a Hat because it was significant to him (1893).

Olympia by Édouard Manet (Inspired by Titian’s Venus of Urbino)

Édouard Manet himself also was inspired by the Renaissance golden era when his work of art Olympia took inspiration from Venetian master Titian, who is best-known for his masterpiece the Venus of Urbino.

Although the stark nudity in Manet’s work stood out, he was not the first one to portray a nude figure who would look straight into the audience’s eyes. Even before Manet, the Titian’s Venus of Urbino that dates back to 1538 was the inspiration for Olympia. Manet’s Olympia picked up her cues from her predecessor.

In his Olympia painting, Manet depicts a naked woman named “Olympia” resting on a bed while a servant brings her flowers. Olympia was initially displayed at the 1865 Paris Salon. Olympia was modeled by Victorine Meurent, and Laure, an art model, portrayed Olympia’s servant. When the artwork was originally displayed, people were shocked and amazed by Olympia’s confrontational glare because several aspects of the painting clearly showed that she was a prostitute.

In 1860s Paris, “Olympia” was a named associated with prostitutes. The establishment was taken aback by the size and format of the Olympia. At that time, most paintings of this size and format were dedicated to historical or mythological subjects.

In the painting, Olympia is depicted as a courtesan or prostitute. The orchid in her hair, her bracelet, her pearl earrings, and her oriental shawl all serve as identifiers. Her pale complexion stands out sharply against the black ribbon around her neck, highlighting her riches and sexiness.

However, apparently, the art community in Renaissance Italy didn’t object to this depiction as Titan was a goddess. In fact, it is believed that the painting certainly created a romantic instruction manual for whoever wanted to be Duke of Urbino’s wife-to-be.

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Claude Monet’s

Inspired by Édouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe

Well, even before, Monet had revealed another scandalous painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe. This painting portrayed a jarring image where a female nude who is staring back at the audience, is enjoying the picnic with a couple of fully dressed men. While Manet took inspiration from the Renaissance painters like Giorgione and Titian, Claude Monet (his contemporary) was swayed By Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe and was inspired by it.

One of the distinct differences between the paintings is male guests. While Manet painted his brother and brother-in-law in his luncheon, Monet included the painter Gustave Courbet in his creation.

Monet was said to have a competitive tendency, and this personality trait motivated him to begin a similar project. The magnificent work began as a series of sketches before changing and shifting to become the painted final product. Although slightly different, Monet’s subject was similar to Manet’s. Monet decided to utilize fully dressed figures with the same natural lighting to avoid the controversy that Manet’s piece’s naked figures provoked.

Monet’s artwork pitted “the preliminary sketch against the finished painting” against one another. The approach for the piece began with sketches at Chailly, but Monet didn’t start painting it until he got back to his studio in Paris.

This grandiose project, which aimed to depict life-size models, was nearly impossible to complete outside. The piece was poorly received, and Monet ultimately gained far less attention for it than for his Normandy seascapes.

The Last Supper by Andy Warhol’s, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

No one can deny the brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and it was deemed to be an endless source of inspiration for the next generation of artists. Andy Warhol was one of them who added a greater dimension to Vinci’s depiction.

Andy used pop-art iconography to elevate such a brilliant portrayal of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. Warhol was commissioned by an art dealer, Alexander Iolas, to be hung in a Milanese bank. Warhol developed about 100 versions on the theme, going above and above what was required by the commission. In fact, the length of the series suggests an almost obsession with the theme, which has further relevance in light of the disclosure of Warhol’s secret religious life, which was made public barely a month after the Milan exhibition’s opening in January 1987.  

Warhol approached The Last Supper through mediations of the original, as he did with most themes. He drew inspiration from a 1913 Cyclopedia of Painters and Painting and a cheap black-and-white image of a widely distributed 19th-century engraving. In order to create the so-called hand-drawn paintings, which were created by tracing the reduced contours of the encyclopedia picture as they were projected onto the canvas, the former served as a model for the silkscreens and the latter for the silkscreens. Warhol began tracing only in 1983 when he worked with the artists Francesco Clemente and Jean-Michel Basquiat, despite having practiced silkscreening since the early 1960s and throughout the 1970s.

Nowadays, an advanced way of creating and modifying artworks with the help of the algorithm known as Decentralized autonomous artist is also gaining popularity. But unlike in the past, the artist or the algorithm in this kind of setup has completely no power as to what to exactly draw online; instead, it will only rely on the results of the online votes.

L.H.O.O.Q. by Marcel Duchamp

Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa is deemed as the most famous painting by the Maestro Vinci and is immensely popular even in today’s art community. Due to the sheer brilliance, most artists would not want to create an inspired painting out of it, but Marcel Duchamp was different.

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was born in Blainville, Normandy in a family where all his siblings also became artists. From 1913, Duchamp rejected what he described as “retinal” art and began to make “readymades”. The readymades were appropriated everyday objects, which Duchamp used to question the notion of art and to remove the notions of adoration and attraction surrounding art which he found unnecessary.

He aimed for history’s most famous portrait and decided to give his own twist to it. In 1919, he made a postcard-sized reproduction of the Mona Lisa that defaces the famous work with a beard and mustache.

LHOO is Duchamp’s most famous readymades, or, as the French artist described it, a “rectified readymade”. This type of art involved taking something ordinary and altering it in some way, whether it was a subtle reversal and signature (as with Fountain) or the addition of a mustache and beard (as with LHOOQ). Here, Marcel Duchamp used a discovered postcard of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and added a mustache and beard in pencil, along with the title.

Tilled Field by Joan Miro (Inspired by Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights)

Joan Miró started work on The Tilled Field, a view of his family’s farm in Montroig, Catalonia, during the summer of 1923. This picture is the earliest representation of Miró’s surrealist vision, although sharing a similar theme with his earlier quasi-realistic, Fauvist-colored country vistas, such as Prades, The Village. Its imaginative juxtaposition of human, animal, and vegetal shapes as well as its variety of schematized animals create a world that can only be seen in one’s imagination and showcase the breadth of Miró’s imagination. The Tilled Field is a poetic metaphor that conveys Miró’s idyllic picture of his birthplace.

Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights

Inspired by Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights

While the resemblance between these two artist’s works whose styles are different might take some time to figure out, but when you know what to look for, you will be able to figure it out. Joan Miró’s Surrealist painting and Hieronymous Bosch’s Early Netherlander triptych don’t have such clear parallel resemblance but both of them have got the similar busy, chaotic energy.

If we look beyond the use of colors that echo Bosch’s work, Miró also paints certain random objects that also appear in Bosch’s paintings like, disembodied ears, flocks of birds, and much more.

Bedroom at Arles by Roy Lichtenstein (Inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles)

Arles played an instrumental role in Vincent Van Gogh’s life and he portrayed his bedroom through the Bedroom at Arles painting. This 1888 original became a source of inspiration for Lichtenstein’s 1992 work Bedroom at Arles which is always deemed as an odd take.

Although the inspiration is visible, the styles are strikingly different. While the original painting has Van Gogh’s anxious lines replaced by Roy Lichtenstein’s bold, cold and straight lines. While the inspiration is a tribute, yet it surely showcases the different takes that the same subject matter can be represented.

To Sum Up

These seven famous paintings have been the source of inspiration for many more paintings, art, and sculpture. And if you are looking to add any of these precious paintings to your personal collection, you can head over to 1st-art-gallery to view some of the most famous paintings that speak of museum-quality prints.