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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Britons confuse Monet with Rolf
Detail from the Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa was not painted by Leonardo Di Caprio
Many in the UK struggle to name some of the world's most famous masterpieces, even confusing Monet with Rolf Harris.

Nearly half of those surveyed could not identify Leonardo Da Vinci as the painter of the Mona Lisa.

And 7% thought Australian TV presenter and artist Harris had painted Monet's Water Lillies.

The survey, conducted by Encyclopaedia Britannica among 500 people, found 85% could not name Edvard Munch as the creator of The Scream.

British art also caused problems for many, with more than half could not being able to identify the Hay Wain as by John Constable, while one in 10 thought Botticelli had painted David Hockney's A Bigger Splash.

The survey also discovered that 43% of those questioned had never visited an art gallery in their lives, despite 68% of people citing art as important factor in society.

Artistic heritage

The 18 to 24-year-old generation fared the worst in the survey, despite half having some sort of art qualification, with none being able to recognise Gustav Klimt's most famous work The Kiss.

Most people could name Damien Hirst's shark, or Tracey Emin's unmade bed because that is all the media ever focuses on
Tony Pontone
Albemarle Gallery
"Britain as a nation is envied for its rich artistic heritage and it is sad to learn that so few of us take an interest in the world's, not to mention our own, artistic treasures," Encyclopaedia Britannica direct marketing manager Christine Hodgson said.

A straw poll conducted by BBC One's Breakfast programme saw one young man guess Leonardo Di Caprio had painted the Mona Lisa, while another believed it was by Van Gogh.

Renoir was identified as the originator of the Water Lillies, while Van Gogh was also wrongly named as the painter of Munch's The Scream.

'No appreciation'

Tony Pontone, managing director of the Albemarle Gallery in London, told BBC News Online the 1990s "obsession" with Brit Art is largely to blame for the ignorance exposed by the survey.

"Most people could name Damien Hirst's shark, or Tracey Emin's unmade bed because that is all the media ever focuses on," he said.

But he says the "lack of appreciation for our cultural heritage" marks Britain out from many other countries in mainland Europe where art is "something to be proud of".

He added: "There is a huge seam of talent in young, British artists who are painting 'conventional' subjects using the same skills and techniques as the old masters.

"But because they are actually using paint and canvas they are ignored and slagged off - usually by people who can't paint and have chosen an easier option."

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