It’s a pity none of these oeuvres are around anymore for anyone to marvel upon!
“Lost works of art” is pretty much self-explanatory, but just so we’re on the same page here, Wikipedia defines these as “original pieces of art that credible sources indicate once existed but cannot be accounted for in museums or private collections or are known to have been destroyed deliberately or accidentally, or neglected through ignorance and lack of connoisseurship.” The list of lost artworks through the ages is so extensive that patrons of the art will surely cringe at the sight of it! That makes it difficult to select only five in this list so we’ll narrow it down to modern art, or those which were created between the 1860s and the 1970s.
‘Water Lilies’ by Claude Monet, 1883
Water Lilies were actually a part of a series of water lily paintings created by Monet. Two of them, including a massive eighteen foot-long one, were housed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1957; however, just a year later, they were destroyed in a fire that started after one of the workmen installing an air conditioning unit lighted a cigarette near flammable materials.
‘The Painter on His Way to Work’ by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
‘Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X’ by Francis Bacon, 1953
Bacon’s painting was a distorted version of Spanish artist Diego Velasquez’s Portrait of Innocent X (1650). Also known as The Screaming Pope, there have actually been about 45 pieces based on the same classic portrait. Bacon was said to have destroyed many of his own works throughout his career due to fits of rage fueled by alcohol and dissatisfaction – including this reinterpretation.
‘Le Peintre’ (‘The Painter’) by Pablo Picasso, 1963
This Picasso artwork was destroyed during the tragic crash of Swissair Flight 111 en route to Geneva, Switzerland from New York City on September 2, 1998. The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean (Nova Scotia), killing all 229 passengers and crew onboard.
Canvases from Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Entablature Series,’ 1970s
In the early ‘70s, Lichtenstein created a three-part series of entablatures: one between 1971 and 1972, another between 1974 and 1976, and the last in 1976. Some of these ended up being housed in one of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, and were unfortunately destroyed during the September 11 attacks.
Like this article? Check out our Top Five List series in the Lomography magazine!