When we look at the world’s most well known paintings, such as the Mona Lisa, we see a piece that must have taken countless hours to complete in its entirety. It’s understood that a painting can’t really be put into a museum until it has been finished, and that an incomplete piece of art will usually be locked away until later down the road.
But there are countless famous paintings that aren’t finished, many of which have been pondered over sometimes for centuries. Why were they never finished? Did the artist die before he was able to complete his work?
Did they simply grow bored of it? Although we may never know the answers to all of these questions, we can at least have a look at some famed paintings that were – unfortunately – never finished.
The Portrait of George Washington
Considered the father of the USA and remembered as a fierce leader and brilliant general, George Washington is among one of history’s most well known men, so it makes sense then that his portrait would be painted at some point.
This task was given to Gilbert Stuart, a famous portrait artist at the time who created the original painting of the general. He was commissioned by Washington’s wife to do a second portrait, but it’s one that he never finished on purpose. Instead, he used the likeness to sell as much as possible, and it would be this picture that would eventually make it on to the $1 bill.
This piece was done by none other than Michelangelo and depicts Jesus’ body being placed into his tomb after he was crucified. It’s considered to be one of the most mysterious paintings in the world, as no tangible information has ever arisen as to why the artists left the piece incomplete.
There are several figures that are missing, and the painting itself was lost for centuries before turning up out of the blue in 1846. Michelangelo himself never makes any mentions of the work in his notes, and no one from the time left a record of why it was abandoned. Regardless, it’s a painting that has long been a point of fascination in the art world.
The Adoration of the Magi
Leonardo da Vinci is often regarded as the greatest artist that ever lived, but even he left behind work that was never finished. The Adoration of the Magi is a testament to this, although we have a clear understanding of why he abandoned the work. During the 1480s, da Vinci was living in Florence, and had been commissioned by Augustinian monks to paint the work, which depicts the arrival of the Three Wise Men at the birth of Jesus.
But more profitable options arose, and da Vinci found himself instead chasing the money, like we do with big bonuses, where he worked for the duke of Milan. It was during this time that he was commissioned to create The Last Supper, which paid substantially more than The Adoration of The Magi.