The Backstories In Famous Paintings

Luis Martinez, Writer

We know paintings like the Mona Lisa are famous and known for the illusion called “The Mysterious Smile”, but what’s the story behind paintings like these? Why were they made? Who made them? When were they made?


Mona Lisa

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The Mona Lisa, one painting that is very well known worldwide, was painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The piece was made in the year of 1503. That alone would get the attention of many, however, I don’t think many question its backstory. Though, another question may come up, who is that woman? The woman’s name is Lisa Gherardini, a wife of a noble and wealthy merchant named Francesco del Giocondo. It is said she had kids and had a normal average life. The painting can be found Louvre Museum.

Dogs Playing Poker

"A Friend in Need" by C.M. Coolidge

Dogs playing poker is a well known art series, well known for the comedic and creative paintings. The series was started by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, though the backstory may not be much, it’s an amazing painting. The series was actually started in 1894 to 1903 for an advertisement in cigars. The paintings are worth over $100,000 USD.

American Gothic

Grant Wood. American Gothic, 1930. The Art Institute of Chicago. Friends of American Art Collection.


The American Gothic is a painting that epitomizes the hard times of the great depression. The painting was painted by Grant Wood in the year of 1903 and is worth over $1 million USD. In short, Grant was visiting Eldon and found a house which had a window he thought was eye-popping. The painting has a relation to the great depression and is well known among artists. The painting is now located at the Royal Academy of Arts.


The Old Guitarist

An oil painting, known very well for his artworks is Pablo Picasso. However his reasons for painting this piece is because of his close friend’s suicide, causing Picasso himself to become depressed. However, this feeling has taught him something, and found relation towards those who were also facing poverty. The piece was later examined, and three more figures are able to be seen. The painting was painted in Picasso’s 20s. The current location for this painting is in the Art Institute of Chicago.


Impression Sunrise

Monet - Impression, Sunrise.jpgImpression Sunrise is painted by Claude Monet, an artist whose painted 6 canvases to present dawn, dark, dust and day. Claude Monet is mainly known for this piece. This painting has come to the name of Exhibition of the Impressionists. The cost of all Monet’s paintings together is over 12 million. The painting can be seen in Musée Marmottan Monet.


Though we may have all this information about how these paintings came to be, we won’t be able to understand the effort put into these paintings. We won’t know what the paintings meant to the artists. Though we have all this information, there’s much we still don’t know about what is felt during the process of painting. And though these may be only a few of the paintings I found, I’m sure there’s a painting with much of a story to tell, a painting with secrets.