The Arts

Famous Works of Art That Were Never Completed

The quotation, “For all of the sad word of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been!” can also describe the loss of some famous artists that failed to complete their creations. The reasons of the incompletion can vary, either the creators die, or sometimes the artists would move on to other different goals. Or in some cases, the reason why these work were unfinished is unknown.

We will be listing some of the unfinished works of art in different fields that are famous even throughout this day, year and time.

1. Music – Symphony No. 8 by Franz Schubert (1822)

The Symphony consists of two completed movements, one of them which is an Allegro moderato and the other one an Andante con moto. Sketches of the piano were found later on for a third movement. The B-minor entr’acte which comes from one of his related music to Rosamunde appears to be coming from what could have been the final movement.

He composed this symphony in 1882. He earned an honorary degree from the Graz Music Society the year after and gave his symphonic sketch to his buddy, Anselm Huttenbrenner. At just 25 years old, His music has proved to be tuneful and long-lasting, with one of his most enduring works being this unfinished symphony.

Huttenrbrenner never told anyone about this symphony. He didn’t do anything to it, he didn’t try to produce it because he felt like that it was unfinished. Although, in 1865, Huttenbrenner gave the sketch to the Vienna Music association. The Vienna Music association was the ones to have ever performed the symphony.

Michelangelo, apollino

Sadly, Schubert wasn’t able to hear his piece being performed as he died in 1828 at the age of 31.

2. Animation – The Thief and the Cobbler by Richard Williams (1993)

A British genius of animation, Williams is well known for his days of contributions to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Richard Williams also worked for a whopping three decades of dedication to this animated adaptation of Arabian Nights legends which turned heads in the animation community. Although, Williams ultimately lost control of the film to his financiers with about 15 minutes of animations yet to complete. The animation was reworked, reanimated and entirely mishandled in a theatrical release. Fans have responded in the recent years with a “re-cobbled” version, which is mostly, if not, entirely based on William’s actual intentions.

3. Painting – Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington (1796)

Stuart created over 100 portraits of US President George Washington. Stuart’s very first painting of George Washington, which is also known as the Vaughan portrait, shows Washington from the waist up. Although, the most famous in the collection is the Athenaeum portrait, which was started in the date of 1796 at the request of Washington’s wife, Martha. The image can also be seen reversed and with a bit of modifying on the US dollar bill.

The painting was unfinished, and Stuart asked the president if he could be allowed to keep it to help him with upcoming portraits. The unfinished original paintings became the well-known Athenaeum portraits due to Boston Athenaeum library purchasing them after Stuart died in the date 1828.

4. Poem – Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem entitled Kubla Khan (1797)

The poem Kubla Khan was completed in 1797. This poem as stated by Coleridge in the preface was composed after he had an opium-influenced dream one night after reading a work about Xanadu. Xanadu is the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s Yuan Empire in China. Coleridge went on to write the lines of the poetry that came to him from the dream upon waking. until he was interrupted by “a person from Porlock”. However, the poem cannot be completed with its original 200–300 line plan because he was unfortunately interrupted by a person from Porlock. He was called out for more than an hour and this interruption has caused him to forget the other lines when he returned to his room. He left the poem unpublished and but kept it for private readings for his family and friends. It was not until 1816 from a meeting between Coleridge and Lord Byron when Lord Byron persuaded Coleridge to publish the poem, Christabel and Kubla Khan.

5. Novel – Mark Twain’s story entitled The Mysterious Stranger (1908)

This novel by the American author Mark Twain entitled The Mysterious Stranger was written on and off from 1897 until 1908. The novel was written with multiple versions of the story. Each of the stories has a supernatural character who was called Satan or No. 44 and all three stories vary in length. The first version The Chronicle of Young Satan has over 55,000 words, while the second story Schoolhouse Hill has 15,300 words and the last and the third story entitled No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger has about 65,000 words. The first two versions were left unfinished except for the third version No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger which was said to have been published.

6. Sculpture – Michelangelo’s sculpture named David-Apollo (1530)

The incomplete marble sculpture was called by a number of names Apollo, Apollo-David, David-Apollo, or Apollino. It is a 1.46-meter unfinished marble sculpture by Michelangelo that can be found on the Bargello museum in Florence dates back to 1530.

The sculpture got its name David-Apollo because the people have been disagreeing with regards to the identity of the man portrayed in this work. The sculpture of Michelangelo indicates that it may be the biblical character David or could be the mythological character Apollo. David-Apollo was approximately created in 1530 for the then governor of Florence, Baccio Valori. It was said that the marble sculpture may have started out as David, but later on, Michaelangelo tried to adjust it to Apollo before leaving the piece of sculpture unfinished.

We may never know the real identity of the sculpture that is why it will always be known as David-Apollo.

It’s too bad these amazing artists couldn’t fully complete their great works of art.  But we are thankful for the enjoyment of the ones they did complete!

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