A Look at 7 of History’s Most Unlikely Artists

Anyone who has pursued (or even appreciated) an art form like painting, dance, writing, or music will likely not be surprised to hear that the brains of unlikely artists are structurally different than those of people who don’t have a bent toward the creative.

From Al Capone to George W. Bush, unlikely artists that changed the world.

Research has proven that artists have more neural matter that supports fine motor skills and procedural memory. It’s no wonder then, that some of history’s most notable figures and pop icons boast more than one talent. Politicians that can dance, actors that can paint—there are no one-trick-ponies in this list. Here are seven historical figures that are also talented artists.

1. Al Capone, the poet and musician

The famous gangster, Al Capone, was more nefarious than notable. As one of the most infamous mob bosses the world has ever known, he left a legacy of crime and murder after his empire crumbled, and he went to prison. In a surprising display of humanity, Capone wrote beautiful love ballads for his wife, Mae, from his prison cell. Creative by any standard, the ballads were recorded and set to music in 2009.

During his stay in Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Capone also played banjo for an inmate band called The Rock Islanders. A wax figure of him playing in his cell is on display at Madame Tussauds in San Francisco.

2. George W. Bush, the painter

Best known for serving as the nation’s 43rd President, George W. Bush is also a talented painter. His latest project, Portraits of Courage, honors injured combat veterans. The collection of images is on display at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

3. George Washington, the dancer

The very first presidential George was an esteemed general, brilliant politician, and beloved leader. What some may not know is that Washington was also an accomplished ballroom dancer. Legend has it that women would line up in droves for a chance to waltz with him.

4. Prince Charles, the painter

As heir to the British throne, Prince Charles spends a great deal of his time managing the business of the Royal Family. As a creative outlet, however, the Prince creates beautiful watercolor paintings of familiar scenes from his life. He displayed his collection, Life in Pictures, online in 2013.

5. Albert Einstein, the violinist

One of the world’s most notable physicists, Albert Einstein’s intellectual talents spilled over easily into the world of music. He was an excellent pianist and violinist, using music as a method for solving equations and scientific problems.

6. Jane Austen, the pianist and composer

Writer and novelist Jane Austen is one of the most beloved authors of all time. Works like Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma will forever be known as literary classics. In her spare time, Austen composed musical pieces and played them on the piano. She and her musically talented family created more than 600 handwritten compositions, and Austen was known to practice the piano every morning.

7. Sir Winston Churchill, the painter

One of Britain’s most famous Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill is best known for leading his country to victory in World War II. Churchill was also an exceptionally gifted painter, producing over 500 paintings—most of which sold for a great deal of money. Extremely modest about his artistic gifts, Churchill described himself as an “amateur” and resisted any accolades about his work.

These seven people are just a few of the world’s most notable figures in history who blend creativity into their primary vocations to enrich and enhance the legacy they leave to the world.

From gangsters to politicians, one thing is true: Art is a conduit for many talents.


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