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How prolific were famous artists?
4 December 2018

About three years ago I became interested in the productivity of famous and well known artists. I was vaguely aware that some artists were very prolific, and that some did not produce a lot. I wanted to find out how many paintings and drawings were produced by some of the famous and well known artists.

After doing a little research I realized that the information I was looking for is scattered all over the internet, and is often of questionable validity. So I decided that this is going to be a long term project and I will work on it when I have the time.

Although I did my best to only use data from reliable sources, the numbers shown in the table below should not be considered completely accurate. Mainly because new works of art may be discovered at any time, and because some of the known artworks may cease being attributed to a particular artist in the future. Thus the numbers can shift either way. Furthermore, some artists destroyed some of their work and some art got lost over time. Therefore, we'll probably never know the entire creative output of any artist. The numbers in the table should be treated as an approximation based on current knowledge.

It should be noted that these numbers tell us nothing about the amount of work that went into creating the paintings and drawings of a particular artist. Some artists painted large and realistic paintings that were very time consuming to produce. Others, painted in a style that required much less effort. For example, the 19th century Polish painter Jan Matejko, painted a number of large and detailed paintings that were very time consuming. His largest painting is 426 cm x 987 cm (13.9 ft x 10.7 yd) and depicts a historical battle scene that took him about 6 years to paint.

I researched over 50 artists but could only find reliable information on 32 of them. Furthermore, it's difficult to find information on the number of drawings many of these artists produced. In some cases I could only find a total of works created with no distinction between drawings and paintings. I'm sure the data I'm looking for is out there somewhere, but I could not find it.

Finally, I would like to stress that being prolific does not guarantee success. There is a myriad of other factors that influence the degree of success an artist can achieve.

NOTE: Although the readability of long numbers is made easier by using a separator, there is no standard separator in use. In the UK and US a comma "," is used to separate groups of thousands (eg. 5000 is often written 5,000). In other countries either a period "." or a space " " is used. To avoid confusion, the numbers in the table are written without any separators (except when quoting a source). Nearly all numbers are short.

Artist name
(born-died) Age
Nationality Art movement Paintings painted (all types combined) Drawings drawn (all types combined) Additional information
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
(1841-1919) 78
French Impressionism 4124 530 Source: 1.
William Turner
(1775-1851) 76
English Romanticism 2550 32000 300 sketchbooks, 32000 sketches, 550 oil paintings, 2000 highly detailed and finely finished watercolours. Source: 1, 2.
John Sargent
(1856-1925) 69
American Realism 2300 ? nearly 600 portraits, approximately 1700 landscapes and subject illustrations of oils and watercolors; many drawings. Source: 1, 2.
Pablo Picasso
(1881-1973) 91
Spanish Cubism 1885 12000 "The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000 (by John Selfridge), comprising 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs." Source: 1.
Edvard Munch
(1863-1944) 80
Norwegian Expressionism, Symbolism 1850 7655 28000 works of art, including 378 litographs, 188 etchings, 148 woodcuts, 143 litographic stones, 155 copper plates. Source: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Camille Pissarro
(1830-1903) 73
French Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism 1719 ? 1529 oils, 190 gouaches, 102 pastels, 55 fans, watercolors, drawings, 200 prints. Source: 1, 2.
Gustave Courbet
(1819-1877) 58
French Realism 1500 ? A small amount of his paintings was executed in collaboration with his pupils. Source: 1.
Jan van Goyen
(1596-1656) 60
Dutch Baroque Era 1200 1000 Was active for about 36 years. Source: 1.
Edgar Degas
(1834-1917) 83
French Impressionism 1200 ? plus pastels and charcoal drawings, and 150 sculptures. "Produced approximately 1500 studies on the subject of ballet dancers". Source: 1, 2, 3.
Claude Monet
(1840-1926) 86
French Impressionism 1189 ? About 2500 artworks in all: paintings, drawings and pastels. Source: 1.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
(1864-1901) 36
French Post-Impressionism 1012 5084 737 canvases, 275 watercolors, 363 prints and posters, 300 pornographic works. Source: 1.
Rene Magritte
(1898-1967) 68
Belgian Surrealism 1000 ? Source: 1.
Paul Cezanne
(1839-1906) 67
French Post-Impressionism 940 ? "Cezanne worked in oil, watercolor, and drawing media, often making several versions of his works." Source: 1, 2.
Vincent Van Gogh
(1853-1890) 37
Dutch Post-Impressionism 862 1031 2181 works in total. Source: 1.
Francisco Goya
(1746-1828) 82
Spanish Romanticism, Rococo Art 700 1000 plus 300 prints. Source: 1.
Eugene Delacroix
(1798-1863) 65
French Romanticism ? 6000 Over 9000 works of art, including several hundred paintings. Source: 1.
Jackson Pollock
(1912-1956) 44
American Abstract Expressionism 363 ? Source: 1.
Jan Matejko
(1838-1893) 55
Polish History painting 300 ? plus "few hundred drawings and sketches". Source: 1.
Rembrandt van Rijn
(1606-1669) 63
Dutch Baroque Era 250 2000 plus 300 prints (etchings). Source: 1, 2.
El Greco
(1541-1614) 72
Greek Mannerism 137 ? Source: 1.
Diego Velazquez
(1599-1660) 61
Spanish Baroque Era 120 ? Source: 1.
Albrecht Durer
(1471-1528) 56
German Northern Renaissance 60 1000 plus "some 350 woodcuts and about 130 engravings and etchings". Source: 1, 2.
Georges Seurat
(1859-1891) 32
French Post-Impressionism 47 500 plus "several sketchbooks" Source: 1.
Johannes Vermeer
(1632-1675) 43
Dutch Baroque Era 34 0 "He left no drawings or preliminary paintings behind." Source: 1, 2.
Hieronymus Bosch
(1450-1516) 66
Dutch Northern Renaissance 25 14 Source: 1.
Leonardo Da Vinci
(1452-1519) 67
Italian High Renaissance 20 4000 "Almost 4000 sheets survive of Leonardo's drawings and notes." Source: 1, 2, 3.
Maurits Cornelis Escher
(1898-1972) 73
Dutch undefined 0 2000 plus 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings. Source: 1.
Wassily Kandinsky
(1866-1944) 77
Russian Expressionism, Abstract Art ? 1236 plus 38 sketchbooks. Source: 1, 2.
Peter Paul Rubens
(1577-1640) 62
Flemish Baroque Era ? ? "Around 10,000 works of art." "Approximately 1,500 of his works still survive". Source: 1, 2.
Georgia O’Keeffe
(1887-1986) 98
American American modernism ? ? 2029 known works in different mediums. Source: 1.
Salvador Dali
(1904-1989) 84
Spanish Surrealism ? ? 1000 pictorial works. Source: 1.
Caspar David Friedrich
(1774-1840) 66
German Romanticism ? ? Over 500 works. Source: 1.

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