Rambling Post about Paintings

“Picasso – 50,000 works of art, including 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics; 18,095 engravings; 6,112 lithographs; and approximately 12,000 drawings, as well as numerous linocuts, tapestries, and rugs, not to mention his letters, poetry and plays” If you count 60 years of productive art making that is 2.5 works per day.” Reliable source?

I got curious last night and wondered how many paintings there are in the world. This probably isn’t even an answerable question, but I was sure someone had attempted to calculate it. The answer I found was in the billions but I think that’s an underestimation. The wonderful/horrible days I wandered the pinacoteca of the Sforza Castle in Milan I saw thousands and that was only ONE of the immense collections of paintings in Milan.

The paintings hung in a dozen or more rooms and others were stored in sliding walls you could pull out and swing open similar to those you might find in a library. That was the year 2000, and the whole place was open to tourists. It was marvelous, unbelievable, beyond anything.

Even then… Even after wandering the galleries for days, I recall only two things, well, three things. I recall something left over from the medieval streets of a Lombardy town, a knife grinding machine and I remember an anonymous fresco of Vulcan. I also remember a painting of a pewter platter with John the Baptist’ head lying on it as if it were a ham.

Most paintings in “olden times” were not painted by super stars. I think of those days — days that lingered far into the 19th century — when in order to have a “memory” of a journey or a representation of anything someone had to paint it or draw it. That’s the kind of thing a person can “know” with that kind of sterile knowledge with which facts are stored and that’s how I knew it until I got a little book of ink drawings done by Goethe on some of his journeys. Then it penetrated my mind in a deeper way. If he wanted to have a visual souvenir of something he saw, he had to sit down and draw it. That’s where the whole idea of realistic images lived. “But it doesn’t look like that!”

The camera liberated artist from realism.

The other thing is that a person who WANTED to take home a representation of something or someone he’d seen on a journey would have to take the time to reproduce its image; would have to take the time to really SEE it.

So…billions of paintings and billions more every year. That’s my guess. And, since the past doubtless had paintings that have vanished and the future has paintings that have yet to exist, it seems pretty accurate to say there is an infinite number of paintings.

Here’s a little tour of the museum of the Sforza Castle. Last time I was there was 2004 and it was impossible to wander freely, but maybe that’s changed. https://www.keepcalmandwander.com/inside-the-sforza-castle-milan-italy/

P.S. Leonardo was the court painter of for Ludovico Sforza and his work is everywhere but in an ordinary way, not “OH MY GOD! LEONARDO” which is kind of cool. Also, in Milan, of course is The Last Supper.

16 thoughts on “Rambling Post about Paintings

  1. I think I’d really enjoy the museum of musical instruments! I’m not surprised that this place drew you on your travels… I think your soul wanted to paint for a long time.

    • The museum of musical instruments was amazing. That’s where I saw a medieval hurdy-gurdy (or three…)

      I’ve painted since I was a little kid, but there were always opposing forces which, apparently, didn’t have all that much power. 😀

  2. Honestly, you could sit there for days and not take it all in. I understand how you feel, Martha, I truly do. The internet is a wonderful thing when it works, but if it fails, woof!

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