Collection Inspiration: Artists

Posted on 10/18/2022

Start your own gallery of famous artists whose legacies are forever captured on banknotes from around the world.

Whether it is to convey a message or to capture a moment in time, artists have used their gifts to inspire generations, with powerful visual representations of emotion and imagination captured by talented geniuses from all over the world. In celebration of International Artist Day on October 25, we look at 10 banknotes to start a gallery of legendary artists.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564)

Considered one of the three giants of the High Renaissance period, Michelangelo is one of the Western world’s most celebrated and influential artists. A master painter, sculptor and architect, Michelangelo is famous for the sculpture David, the fresco on the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and more. That composition covers over 5,300 square feet and features over 300 figures. As one of Italy’s most prominent artists, the nation proudly displayed Michelangelo’s portrait on the front of its 1962 10,000 Lire banknote.

Italy, Banca d'Italia 1962 10,000 Lire graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated
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Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)

Following the Renaissance, the Baroque period emerged with Rembrandt at the forefront. The Dutch artist was famous for his self-portraits, landscapes and narrative paintings that cover biblical and mythological subject matters. His painting The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt’s only seascape painting, became famous after it was stolen in a heist in 1990 and is still missing to this day. One of his well-known self-portraits is featured on the 1956 1,000 Gulden.

Netherlands, Nederlandsche Bank 1956 1,000 Gulden graded PMG 40 Extremely Fine EPQ
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Francisco Jose de Goya (1746-1828)

Francisco Jose de Goya was a renowned Spanish artist with a tortured soul who was proficient in the Romantic style. His paintings, drawings and engravings emphasized emotion and idealization. Later in life, Goya’s undiagnosed disease left him in despair, which transpired onto the canvas. His outlook inspired the Black Paintings, a 14-piece collection featuring dark themes that were primarily painted in black and gold. These paintings were hung in his house in Spain until his death.

Spain, Banco de España 1889 100 Pesetas graded PMG 35 Choice Very Fine
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Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)

Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne was famous for his landscapes and still-lifes, such as The Card Players and Bathers. However, his work suffered much criticism for most of his life until the tide turned in late 1880, when it was said that Cezanne’s work was the bridge between Impressionist and Cubist styles. The French artist influenced well-known artists including Picasso, who said that Cezanne is father to us all.

France, Banque de France 1997-98 100 Frances graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926)

Slovenian artist Ivana Kobilca is known for her Realist-style art. With her favorite mediums, oil paints and pastels, Kobicca created a variety of paintings featuring still-lifes, portraits, allegories and religious scenes. Her notable works include Coffeemadam, Summer and Dutch Girl. Her portrait is featured on the front of the Slovenia 2002 5,000 Tolarjev banknote.

Slovenia, Bank Slovenije 2002 5,000 Tolarjev graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

Illness and fear of inheriting his family’s unstable mental condition plagued Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, which left him with a melancholic and dark demeanor. His friend, writer Hans Jaeger encouraged Munch to transfer his intense emotional and psychological pain into art. Following his friend’s advice, Munch painted various artworks in the style of Expressionism (or soul painting). Probably his most famous piece is The Scream. After his death, Munch’s art was bequeathed to the city of Oslo, where 1,000 paintings and 4,500 drawings are on permanent display in the Munch Museum.

Norway, Norges Bank 2001 1,000 Kroner graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Martiros Saryan (1880-1972)

Russian-born artist Martiros Saryan had his heart stolen by the country of Armenia upon his first visit in 1901. Inspired by his surroundings, Saryan painted Morning at Stavrino, Running Dog and Armenia; the latter is seen on the back of the nation’s 2009 20,000 Dram banknote. He also designed the coat of arms for the Armenian USSR and founded the Modern Armenian National School of Painting.

Armenia, Central Bank 2009 20,000 Dram graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated EPQ
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Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

The Mexico 2017 500 Pesos banknote features two of the nation’s most celebrated artists: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Rivera is well-known for painting, at that time, controversial and political murals in Cubist and Realist styles. He was also married to Frida Kahlo, an acclaimed artist in her own right. Eighteen-year-old Kahlo desired to go into the medical field, but a bus accident left her in terrible chronic pain that would last the rest of her life. With her dreams crushed, Kahlo used her pain to inspire Surrealist artwork such as Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird.

Mexico, Banco de Mexico 2017 500 Pesos graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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René Magritte (1896-1967)

Belgian artist René Magritte is famous for his Surrealist art, such as The Son of Man, The Human Condition and The Pilgrim. Magritte’s art rose to prominence in the 1960s and influenced the Pop Art style, with constantly featured contradictory themes. Magritte and his artwork are featured on the Belgium ND (1998) 500 Francs banknote.

Belgium, Banque Nationale ND (1998) 500 Francs graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Debora Arango Perez (1907-2005)

Known for covering controversial subjects that challenged societal norms during the 1940s, Debora Arango Perez is a celebrated Colombian artist who mastered the Figurative Expressionist style. She drew attention to the role of women in society with her paintings Justice and Amanecer. In 1986, Perez donated 233 pieces to the Medellin Museum of Modern Art.

Colombia, Banco de la Republica 2015 2,000 Pesos graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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If these talented artists inspired you, check out other Collection Inspiration columns for different collecting ideas. Be sure to follow PMG on Facebook, PMG on Instagram and PMG on Twitter for articles and interesting notes posted daily.

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