10 Most Celebrated Unfinished Paintings That Deserve A Standing Ovation

Most Celebrated Unfinished Paintings
Most Celebrated Unfinished Paintings

Some masterpieces are left unfinished by design, others by accident. But, they can be excitingly insightful and appealing- and even more captivating than a complete art.

In general, mostly, all the unfinished paintings offer the art lovers an intriguing sense of suspense.

However, to kindle your excitement, take a look at 10 most celebrated unfinished paintings in the world.

In The Article


Adoration Of The Magi

  • Artist – Leonardo da Vinci
  • Year – 1481 ca
  • Size – 97 in x 96 in
  • Type – Oil on wood
  • Location – Uffizi gallery, Florence (Italy)

The Adoration of the Magi represents an early work of art by master artist Leonardo da Vinci. Moreover, he embodied the message, “ Quality takes time”.

It was everything or nothing for da Vinci, who was appointed to draw an altarpiece for the ‘San Donato a Scopeto’ monastery.

In addition, he initially took 30 months to paint this piece depicting the arrival of Three Wise Men.

But, da Vinci left this project midway to work on “The Last Supper” for the Duke of Milan in return for money.

Meanwhile, another artist  Filippino Lippi worked on this project and he completed it in 1496.

Now, both the versions of art stand majestically in Florence’s Uffizi gallery.


The Entombment

  • Artist – Michelangelo
  • Year – 1500 – 1501 ca
  • Size – 64 in x 59 in
  • Type – Tempera on panel
  • Location – National Gallery, London

“The  Entombment” by Michelangelo is an unfinished painting depicting the placing of Jesus’s body in a tomb.

Furthermore, this unfinished painting still remains shrouded in mystery regarding the figures in the painting.

Saint John, mostly seen in red robes, might be the one standing on the left. The others are Joseph of Arimathaea who left his tomb for Christ and Nicodemus.

Especially, this painting is connected to an altarpiece for Rome’s Sant Agostino which Michelangelo failed to complete. Therefore, this probably explains why this painting looks incomplete.

In essence, “The Entombment” reflects Michelangelo’s style since the presentation of figures connects closely with his other paintings.


Madonna With The Long Neck

  • Artist – Parmigianino
  • Year – 1535 – 1540 ca
  • Size – 85 in x 52 in
  • Type – Oil on Wood
  • Location – Uffizi Gallery, Florence (Italy)

Parmigianino, a renowned Italian Renaissance painter, started this work in mannerist style. Moreover, entrusted to paint Jesus and Mary for the chapel of Francesco Tagliaferri in 1534, he failed to finish. Finally, he died in 1540.

A celebrated perfectionist, Parmigianino never achieved what he wished for and the severe tampering resulted in several incomplete areas.

Overall, this painting depicts a large baby Christ and Virgin Mary on a pedestal surrounded by six angels. Parmigianino, in his earnest, to make Virgin Mary look beautiful gave her a long neck like a swan.


The Death Of Marat

  • Artist – Jacques-Louis David
  • Year – 1793 ca
  • Size – 65 in x 50 in
  • Type – Oil on canvas
  • Location – Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Firstly, “ The Death of Marat”  by Jacques-Louis David depicts the murdered body of Jean-Paul Marat, a vibrant French revolutionist.

Not to mention, it became the most popular image reminding the atrocities of the 1789-1799 French Revolution.

In fact, Jacques painted this the year Marat was assassinated while bathing. The portrait somewhat represents the glorified image of Marat.

Moreover, David left the background incomplete and it symbolically represents the incomplete life of the slain leader.


The Unfinished Portrait – Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • Artist – Elizabeth Shoumatoff
  • Year –  1945
  • Type – Watercolour
  • Location – Little White House, Warm Springs, Georgia

Ukrainian artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff immigrated to America in 1917, where she resided in New York (Locust Valley).

Luckily, she met Franklin D. Roosevelt’s friend Lucy Rutherford in 1937. Moreover, a gifted painter, in 1943, Elizabeth painted a medium size portrait of Roosevelt.

As a result, in 1945, Elizabeth received an opportunity to paint another portrait of Roosevelt. Therefore, she along with her friend Lucy traveled to meet Roosevelt in Warm Springs. Roosevelt agreed to pose for the work.

Unfortunately, Roosevelt suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage during the painting session and died subsequently.

Now, this “Unfinished Portrait” currently hangs at Georgia’s Little House.


Christ Healing The Blind

  • Artist – Doménikos Theotokópoulo (El Greco)
  • Year –  1570
  • Type – Oil on canvas
  • Size – 47 in x 57.5 in
  • Location – Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Doménikos Theotokópoulos was a world-famous Greek painter, architect, and sculptor of the famed Spanish Renaissance.

Moreover, in 1570, El Greco shifted to Rome, where he started a small workshop and executed a number of works. In particular, he enriched his style in Mannerism and also in the Venetian Renaissance.

Consequently, he painted this exceptional art somewhere in Rome where he worked in the 1570s. Finally, in 1576, El Greco shifted base to Spain.

In this painting, he depicts Christ healing a visionless man by blessing his eyes. However, the upper left section of the composition remains incomplete.


Turning Road At Montgeroult

  • Artist – Paul Cézanne
  • Year –  1898
  • Type – Oil on canvas
  • Size – 32 in x 25 7/8 in
  • Location – Museum of Modern Art, New York

The artistic career of French painter Cézanne spanned nearly four decades from 1860 to 1906.

Furthermore, a prolific painter, Paul created around 400 watercolors and 900 paintings, including much-unfinished works.

His later works, including Turning Road, showed whole portions of the painting bare highlighting the paint.

Finally, many art aficionados believe that Paul left this painting unintentionally incomplete due to his poor eyesight.


The Athenaeum Portrait – George Washington

  • Artist – Gilbert Stuart
  • Year – 1796
  • Type – Oil on canvas
  • Size – 48 in x 37 in
  • Location – Smithsonian Institution (National Portrait Gallery)

Gilbert Stuart, widely regarded as America’s foremost portraitists, became world-famous for “The Athenaeum” project.

In 1795, he first painted a portrait of George Washington and it became overly popular.

Consequently, Martha Washington convinced George Washington to pose for a portrait and she decided to own the same.

But, Gilbert did not wish to pass the painting and hence he left it incomplete.

Moreover, this painting is now called the Athenaeum project because it was deposited in the Boston Athenaeum after his death.

Overall, this incomplete work served as a reference for the etching of America’s popular one dollar currency.


James Hunter Black Draftee

  • Artist –  Alice Neel
  • Year –  1965
  • Type – Oil on canvas
  • Size – 60 in x 40 in
  • Location –  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Not to mention, Alice Neel’s portraits depict different sides of Manhattan, where Neel resided and worked. In addition, her paintings displayed strong left-wing social awareness.

In fact, in 1965, Neel accidentally met James Hunter and asked him to pose for a portrait. At that time James was ready to be deployed for the Vietnam War within a week.

In essence, she started the painting by first drafting the outline. Later, Hunter missed the second sitting and Neel declared the portrait complete in that stage.


Vase Of Flowers

  • Artist – Claude Monet
  • Year –  1882
  • Type – Oil on canvas
  • Size – 32 in x 39.52 in
  • Location – The Courtauld Gallery, London, UK

French Impressionist Claude Monet recreated some of the most popular scenes of the French countryside with his brush.

Nevertheless, there are certain unique pieces of art that seem to be finished.

However, one such painting is Monet’s “Vase of Flowers”. In fact, not many art lovers realize this painting is incomplete.

Moreover, in his correspondence, Monet mentions of his incompetence to show the light dancing on the leaves and flowers to his expectation.

For example, in certain places, Monet has removed paint and in some, he has added over the dried canvas.

To sum up, Monet signed this painting only in the 1920s after struggling with it for almost 40 years.

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