The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, January 27, 2022

Famous Artists That Love To Gamble

Gambling is not limited to entertaining us ordinary folk when we’re looking for some excitement. Famous artists worldwide have fallen under the spell of the game and the thrilling twists and turns of lady luck. For centuries the prospect of beating the odds and winning big has fascinated creatives and even gotten a few into trouble too! We’ll take a look at some of the famous artists who developed a penchant for gambling.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Born in 1571, Caravaggio was known for painting violent and brutal scenes. His lifestyle was reminiscent of his paintings, and as he was notoriously violent. He went to trial no less than 11 times for crimes that included stabbing people with swords.* Caravaggio was a well-known drinker, fighter and gambler, and is said to have died under strange circumstances while in exile. We have to wonder if things might have been different for Caravaggio if he had lived in a time when he’d had access to a state-of-the-art live casino instead of having to frequent the dangerous and often violent gambling establishments of the time.

Edvard Munch
Most famous for his painting “The Scream”, Edvard Munch was a keen gambler, often found at the high stakes tables.* Unlike most painters who found fortune only after death, Edvard Munch had money. He was seen as a high roller, playing at the tables with the elites of the time. His love for gambling showed in his work which you can see in a series of gambling-themed works at the Munch Museum.

Lucian Freud
Grandson to world-renowned neurologist Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud made a name for himself as one of the foremost English portraitists of the 20th Century.* Lucian had a penchant for horse racing, often landing himself in hot water for his gambling debts. He famously paid off his debts to his bookie, Alfie Mclean, using his paintings. Freud slowed down on his betting when his artwork started gaining popularity, though it is said that he never lost his love for watching the races.

Francis Bacon
Friend and contemporary to Freud, Francis Bacon was also a fellow gambler. Known for his macabre style in his portraits, Bacon’s personal life was reminiscent of Caravaggio’s. He had a habit of reckless behaviour, treating his family poorly and hanging around with gangsters.* His story ended on a much more positive note, though, and he reportedly left a fortune of £42 million in his estate upon his death.

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