Paintings in Film | Other Painter Biopics | Painting of Vincent van Gogh

Other Painter Biopics

Vincent Van Gogh has had the most films made about him followed by Rembrandt van Rijin and Pablo Picasso. The other painters come from Ireland, Argentina, Hungary, Estonia and Russia among many other countries.


The order of the list down to Leonor Fini has been determined by the number of films made about the painter.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Van Gogh (France1947 16mm/1948 35mm documentary by Alain Resnais)


Lust for Life (US1956 by Vincente Minnelli with Kirk Douglas)


Vincent the Dutchman (US 1972 by Mai Zetterling and David Hughes, documentary-drama with Michael Gough)


Vincent (1981 TV movie, a one-man filmed play of Leonard Nimoy’s 1979 adaptation of Van Gogh Phillip Stephens directed by and starring Nimoy.


Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh (UK 1987 by Paul Cox with Van Gogh’s letters read by John Hurt)


Dreams: Part 5 “Crows” (US/Japan 1990 by Akira Kurosawa with Martin Scorsese as Van Gogh)


Vincent et moi (Quebec1990 by Michael Rubbo with Tchéky Karyo)


Vincent & Theo (US 1990 Robert Altman with Tim Roth)


Van Gogh (France 1991 by Maurice Pialat with Jacques Dutronc)


The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gaugin and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles (UK Channel 4 TV 2007 by Chris Durlacher with John Simm)


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Van Gogh: Painted with Words (UK BBC TV drama-documentary 2010 by Alan Yentob with Benedict Cumberbatch)


Loving Vincent (UK/Poland feature-length painted animation by Dorota Kobiela release date 2016, a murder mystery about the artist’s life and death told through Van Gogh’s letters and interviews with the characters from his own paintings)


At Eternity’s Gate (US 2018 by Julian Schnabel with Willem Dafoe)

A look at the time the painter spent in Arles. Schnabel, who directed 1996’s Basquiat, is also a painter, for example his very large “plate paintings” on broken ceramic plates.

Rembrandt van Rijin (1606-1669)

Die Tragödie eines Großen/The Tragedy of a Great Man (Germany 1920 by Arthur Günzburg with Carl de Vogt)


Rembrandt (UK 1936 by Alexander Korda with Charles Laughton)


Ewiger Rembrandt (Germany 1942 by Hans Steinhoff with Ewald Balser)


Rembrandt, schilder van de mens/ Rembrandt, Painter of Man (Netherlands 1957 20-minute documentary by Bert Haanstra)


Rembrandt fecit 1669 (Netherlands 1977 by Jos Stelling with Frans Stelling then Ton de Koff)


Rembrandt (France/Germany/Netherlands 1999 by Charles Matton with Karl Maria Brandauer)


Nightwatching (Canada/France/Germany/Poland/Netherland/UK 2007 by Peter Greenaway with Martin Freeman)


J’Accuse (Finland/Germany/Netherlands 2008 documentary by Peter Greenaway

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Guernica (France 1950 by Alain Resnais and Robert Heesens)

This short film combines imagery from Picasso’s paintings with other artistic sources, the 1938 poem “La victoire de Guernica” Victory of Guernica” by Paul Èluard read by Maria Casares, and music by Guy Bernard)


Le mystére Picasso (France 1956 by Henri-Georges Clouzot cinematographer Jean Renoir Painter at Work)

The production of 20 original works are documented as we see Picasso painting images onto large glass panes from the camera’s viewpoint instead of over the painter’s shoulder as so often in film. In the first half he uses color pens to doodle then switches from ink pens to oil brushes and paper collage. With the aid of stop motion animation and time lapse these images appear before our eyes only to vanish just as quickly as Picasso paints over them or starts a new one only a few minutes later. Mit Hilfe von Stop-Motion-Animationen entstehen die Bilder vor den Augen des Zuschauers und verschwinden ebenso schnell wieder, wenn Picasso sie übermalt oder nach wenigen Minuten mit einem neuen Bild beginnt.Mit Hilfe von Stop-Motion-Animationen entstehen die Bilder vor den Augen des Zuschauers und verschwinden ebenso schnell wieder, wenn Picasso sie übermalt oder nach wenigen Minuten mit einem neuen Bild beginnt.Momente im Prozess. Zeitlichkeit künstlerischer Produktion Momente im Prozess. Zeitlichkeit künstlerischer Produktion Momente im Prozess. Zeitlichkeit künstlerischer ProduktionThe overall effect in Clouzot’s film is that “the screen is transformed into a kind of automatic painting”, which is especially appropriate “for Picasso’s working process since as he works on a painting, he changes his mind about its central subject” (Jacobs 18). For a “Best of” montage see


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Seven years earlier the Belgian filmmaker Paul Haesaerts used the same procedure in his short film Bezoek ann Picasso (Visit to Picasso Painter at Work) where the artist “paints various forms (…) on a sheet of Plexiglass stretched between himself and the camera.” Picasso even occasionally stares right into the camera lens through what he is drawing: “Shown against a dark background, it looks as if Picasso draws white lines into the space in which he finds himself” (Jacobs 19):


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F for Fake (France/Iran/West Germany 1974 by Orson Welles)

A [fake?] documentary about fraud and fakery with his then partner with Welles’ partner Oja Kodar sitting for a series of nudes for Picasso.


Picassos äventyr/The Adventures of Picasso (Sweden 1978 by Tage Danielsson with Gösta Ekman)


El Joven Picasso (Spain 1994 TV mini-series about the life of the young Picasso by Juan Antonio Bardem with Toni Zenet)


Surviving Picasso (US 1996 by Merchant Ivory with Anthony Hopkins)


Matisse & Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry (US 2001 TV short by Ginny Martin with the voice of Miguel Ferrer)


33 diás/33 Days (Spain/Canada/Argentina release date 2017 by Carlos Saura with Antonio Banderas)

Foregrounds Picasso working on his Guernica mural and his relationship with the French-Croatian painter and photographer artist Dora Maar 1907-1997, played by Gwyneth Paltrow

Paul Gauguin (1843-1903)

The Moon and Sixpence (US 1942 Albert Lewin with George Sanders) The original novel of the same name by Somerset Maugham 1919 is loosely based on the figure of Gaugin and inspired by his life.


Gauguin (France 1950 documentary short by Alain Resnais)


Lust for Life (US 1956 with Anthony Quinn)


The Moon and Sixpence (US 1959 TV adapted by writer S Lee Pogostin with Laurence Olivier)


Oviril/The Wolf at the Door (Denmark/France 1986 by Henning Carlsen with Donald Sutherland)

In August 1893, Paul Gauguin arrived back in France from a long stay in Tahiti with 66 canvases but only four francs and mistakenly believed that an exhibition at the Durand-Ruell Gallery in Paris in November of the following year would mark a change in his fortunes. Although the film “does not present a feminist critique of Gauguin’s sexual behavior … at least the women in the film are not depicted as pathetic victims” (Walker 76). The film’s title “Oviril” is Tahitian for ‘savage’ or ‘wild’ and Gaugin also used the name for his 1894 partially glazed stoneware female figure, the goddess of mourning in Tahitian mythology. Donald Sutherland’s son Kevin was to play the painter 17 years later see next film description.


Paradise Found (Australia/France/US/Germany 2003 by Mario Andreacchio with Kiefer Sutherland)


The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gaugin and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles (UK Channel 4 TV 2007 Chris Durlacher with John Lynch)


Gaugin – Voyage de Tahiti (France 2017 Èdouard Deluc with Vincent Cassel)

Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)

The Naked Maja (US/Italy/France1958 by Henry Koster with Anthony Franciosa)


Goya—oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis (GDR/Soviet Union 1971 by Konrad Wolf with Donatas Banionis)


Volavérunt (Spain/France1999 by Bigas Luna with Jorge Perugorria)


Goya en Burdeos/Goya in Bordeaux (Spain/Italy 1999 by Carlos Saura with Francisco Rabal)


Goya’s Ghosts (Spain/US 2006 by Milos Forman with Stellan Skarsgard)

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)

Bride of the Wind (UK/Germany/Austria 2001 Bruce Beresford with August Schmölzer)


Klimt (Austria/France/Germany/UK 2006 Raúl Ruiz with John Malkovich)


Sora no Wot (Japanese animation show 2010 Kanbe Mamoru) see also Elfen Lied (2004)


The Woman in Gold (UK 2015 by Simon Curtis with Moritz Bleibtreu)

Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann in her search to reclaim Klimt’s portrait of her aunt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. The credits say the film was “inspired by the documentary Stealing Klimt”, UK 2007 60 minutes by Jane Chablani.

Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920)

Montparnasse 19/The Lovers of Montparnasse (France/Italy/West Germany1958 by Jacques Becker with Gérard Phillipe)


Modi (Italy/France 1990 by Franco Brogi Taviani with Richard Berry)


Modigliani (2004 by Mick Davies with Andy Garcia)

Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)

Zoo: A Zed and Two Noughts (UK/Netherlands 1985 by Peter Greenaway)

Includes tableaux vivant reproductions of some of Vermeer’s work, in one case even combining Girl with a Red Hat and The Art of Painting.


All the Vermeers in New York (US 1990 by Jon Jost American Playhouse Theatrical Films)

The title refers to the fact that of the 30 paintings that can certainly be attributed to Vermeer, as many as eight can be found in New York. Wall Street financial broker Marks falls in love with French actress Anna because she reminds him of Vermeer’s Portrait of a Young Woman (1666-67; in fact, Anna had already seen some reproductions of Vermeer’s work before she went to MOMA). He then follows her from room to room in the museum and introduces himself (one sequence shows Anna in a reproduction/’reenactment’ of Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window 1657-59). A love affair ensues and Mark dies. The film ends with Anna ‘going into’ the painting as the camera tracks into it through Anna’s head then freezes on the woman in the painting for some seconds before the film ends. According to Schönenbach the inherent contemplative peace and quiet of a Vermeer stands in stark contrast to Mark’s hectic and stressful professional life, a life purely concerned with financial gain. He feels closer to the reposing figures of Vermeer’s paintings than to his fellow human beings, but by transferring his obsession onto Anna he ultimately founders on reality (Schönenbach 155). A couple of trailers are available on Vimeo and see also Vermeer & Jost interview with the later including some sequences from the film:


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Girl with a Pearl Earring (UK/Luxembourg/Netherlands 2003 by Peter Webber with Colin Firth)

Based on the novel of the same name by Tracy Chevalier (1999) and concentrating on the story of Griet, the servant in the Vermeers’ household who (fictitiously) sat for the eponymous portrait.


Tim’s Vermeer (US 2013 documentary by Teller)

(Raymond Joseph) Teller’s film about inventor, computer graphics expert and engineer Tim Jenison, who obviously shares Jon Jost’s love of Vermeer though here almost to the point of obsession as he attempts to exactly replicate The Music Lesson (1662-65) with the help of a device he built himself in order to validate his theory that Vermeer painted with the help of a camera obscura, an idea also floated by professor of architecture Philip Steadman in Vermeer’s Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces (2002) and David Hockney in Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Techniques of the Old Masters (expanded edition 2006) both of whom appear later in the film.


Amour fou (Austria 2014)

Directed by Jessica Hausner, daughter of the Viennese painter Rudolf Hausner, sister of the costume designer Tanja Hausner and half-sister of the production designer and painter Xenia Hausner. The visual aesthetics of this film about the suicide pact between the German writer Heinrich von Kleist and Henriette Vogel in Berlin 1810/11 are decidedly yellow and red and inspired by Vermeer’s paintings.


See also

 “He’s the painter of light. Period.”

Jan Vermeer’s works aren’t paintings – they’re frozen films, cinematic dramas in paint and canvas. Jonathan Jones looks at how his enigmatic masterpieces translate to the big screen

 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

Moulin Rouge (UK 1952 by John Huston with José Ferrer)


Lautrec (France/Spain 1998 by Roger Planchon with Régis Royer)


Moulin Rouge (Australia/UK 2001 by Baz Luhrmann with John Leguizamo)

Pierre-Auguste August Renoir (1841-1919)

Ceux De chez nous—Auguste Renoir (France 1915): Directed by Sacha Guitry (1885-1957), French theatre and film actor, director, screenwriter and dramatist.


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French Cancan (France/Italy 1954 by John Renoir): An homage to Degas, the Impressionists, and his own father Pierre-Auguste.


Renoir (France 2012 by Gilles Bourdos with Michel Bouquet)

This is not only about the painter’s final years at Cagnes-sur-Mer during the First World War, but also Andrée Heuschling a.k.a. Catherine Hessling, the painter’s last model and the first actress to star in his son Jean’s films.

William Turner (1775-1851)

The Sun is God: The Life of J.M.W. Turner (UK ITV 1974 by Michael Darlow with Leo McKern)


Mr Turner (UK 2014 by Mike Leigh with Timothy Spalding)

Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918)

Pirosmani (USSR 1969 by Giorgi Shengelaya with Avtandil Varazi as self-taught Georgian primitivist painter Niko Pirosmani)


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Arabesques on the Pirosmani Theme (USSR 1986 by Sergei Paradschanow)

Domínikos Theotokpoulos (1541-1614)

El Greco (Greece 2007 by Yannis Smaragdis with Nick Ashdon)


El Greco (Italy 1966 by Luciano Salce with Mel Ferrer)


Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918)

Egon Schiele – Exzesse (Austria/Germany/France 1980 by Herbert Vesely with Mathieu Carriére)


Egon Schiele: Tod und Mädchen (Austria/Luxembourg 2016 by Dieter Berner with Noah Saavedra)


René Magritte (1541-1614)

Rene Magritte: A Dramatized Documentary (UK BBC2 Ominbus 1979 by David Wheatley)


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Monsieur René Magritte (France documentary by Adrian Maben 1978 with childhood memories, paintings and old movies of the artist along with incidental music composed and performed by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters)


Monsieur René Magritte (2009 France docu-fiction by Henri de Gerlache on the occasion of the opening of the new Magritte museum in Belgium)

Leonor Fini (1907-1996)

Leonor Fini (Belgium1987 documentary by Chris Vermorcken on the Argentine surrealist painter, designer and illustrator)


The Cruel Legend (France 1951 short film by Alexandre).


See also:


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And for a complete filmography see the filmography of Leonor Fini.


Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)

Pollock (US 2000 by Ed Harris, who also plays Jackson Pollock. Pollock’s wife, the painter Lee Krashner, is played by Marcia Gay Harden)


Jackson Pollock (US 1951 short film by Paul Falkenberg and Hans Namuth Painter at Work)

Here the artist’s “action painting involved a more physical dimension and also implied a new relation between the painting and its creation process” (Jacobs 19):


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One film per painter:

Une vistite au Louvre (2004 Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet)

A companion piece to au Louvre (2004 Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, a companion piece to their earlier Cézanne from 1989. Both films are based on the chapter “Le Louvre” from the Provencal writer and art critic Joachim Gasquet’s book Cézanne: A Memoir with Conversations (1897-1906) which recounts the painter’s visit to the Louvre accompanied by the young Gasquet. In the 2004 film we see Cézanne in the Louvre strolling past painters by his artist colleagues. Julie Kotai speaks the comments Gasquet attributed to Cézanne about the paintings. There have been at least five documentaries about Cézanne.


Further information:


Óscar: Una pasión surrealista / The Colour of Destiny (Spain 2008 by Lucas Fernández with Joaquim de Almeida as a forgotten icon of French surrealism, Spanish painter Óscar Dominguez 1906-1957)


Surmatants / The Dance of Death (Estonia 1991 by Tonu Virve with Hendrik Toompere Jr. as Tizian 1477-1576)


Csontvary – Lebensbilder eines Malers (1980 by Zoltán Huszárik with Itzhak Finzi as the Hungarian avant-garde painter Tivadar Csontyváry Kosztka 1853-1919)


Ligabue (Italy 1978 by Salvatore Nocita with Flavio Bucci as the Swiss-born Italian naíve painter Antonio Ligabue 1899-1965)


The Passion of Marie (Denmark 2012 by Bille August)

With Birgitte Hjort Sorensen and Soren Saetter-Lassen as Marie and Peder Severin Kroyer respectively (1867-1940 and 1851-1909), two of the Danish Skagen Painters, a community of Danish and Nordic artists from the place of the same name.


The Mill and the Cross (Poland/Sweden 2011 Lech Majewski with Rutger Hauer as Pieter Bruegel the Elder 1525-1569)

Much of the film is a restaging of Bruegel’s 1564 painting The Way to Calvary. In 2005 writer and art critic Michael Francis Gibson saw Lech Majewski’s Angelus (2001) in a cinema in Paris and afterwards gave him a copy of his book The Mill and the Cross: Pieter Bruegel’s Way to Calvary, an analysis of this painting published in 2000. They then both came up with the idea of writing a screenplay together. Gibson and Majewski also collaborated on a second, expanded edition of The Mill and the Cross that combines images from the painting and Gibson’s text with film stills. It was published on the occasion of the film’s first showing by BOSZ Publishing House in 2010 with an introduction by Angelus Silesius see


Note that Lech Majewski helped develop as a project and write the screenplay for Basquiat (1996), eventually gaining a credit as co-writer and co-producer (see section on Queer Biopics).


My Nikifor (Poland 2004 by Krzysztof Krauze with Krystyna Feldman as the Lemko folk and naïve painter Nikifor 1895-1968)


Crumb (US 1994 by Terry Zwigoff as the American cartoonist Robert Crumb 1943- )


Summer in February (UK 2013 by Christopher Menaul with Dominic Cooper as the English horse painter Alfred Munnings 1878-1959, who in one sequence can be seen painting his The Morning Ride and its rider, Florence Carter-Wood, in a Cornish copse)


Satie and Suzanne (Canada 1994 dance film by Tim Southam)

Veronica Tennant as the French painter Suzanne Valadon 1865-1938 who had an affair with the French composer Erik Satie. Featuring the Circle de Soleil.


Edvard Munch (UK 1974 by Peter Watkins with Geir Wesby as Edvard Munich 1863-1944)


My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (Ireland 1989 by Jim Sheridan with Daniel Day-Lewis as the Irish painter Christy Brown 1932-1981)


Every Picture Tells a Story (UK 1983 by William Scott’s son James with various actors as the Scottish still life and abstract painter 1913-1969)


Further information:


Effie Gray (UK 2014 by Richard Laxton screenplay by Emma Thompson)

Tom Sturridge plays the English painter, illustrator and co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood John Everett Millais—the film revolves around his triangular involvement with the Victorian art critic John Ruskin and his wife Euphemia “Effie” Gray.


Cézanne et moi / Cézanne (France 2016 by Danièle Thompson with Guillaume Gallienne)

The “moi” of the original French title is the 19th century realist novelist Émile Zola, and the film depicts the relationship between the writer and the painter until it ended in an irreconcilable quarrel. Cézanne did a Portrait of Émile Zola in 1864 followed five years later by la Pendule noire / The Black Marble Clock, a clock without hands as a sign of time standing still which could also be regarded as a comment on their hoped-for eternal friendship. Yet when Zola portrayed the life of the failed painter Claude Lantier in his 1886 novel L’œuvre / The Masterpiece as part of a fictional account of their friendship, Cézanne considered this a betrayal and they parted company for good.


De werkelijkheid van Karel Appel (The Reality of Karel Appel short film West Germany 1962 by Jan Vrijman Painter at Work)

The film “features the artist flicking paint at a glass screen in a frenzy of apparent creativity accompanied by a Dizzy Gillespie soundtrack” (Jacobs 19):


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Gerhart Richter Painter (Germany 2011 by Corinna Belz Painter at Work) see the official website then a trailer:


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Neo Rauch – Gefährten und Begleiter (Germany 2106  by Nicola Graef Painter at Work)

The director accompanied the painter at work, a member of the New Leipzig School, from 2013—2016 and also observed the critical exchanges with his wife, the painter Rosa Loy. The German title means ‘companions’ and ‘those who accompany someone.’ See the official website then a trailer.



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