Being a famous artist in your own lifetime is no guarantee that you'll
be remembered by other artists. Have you heard of the French painter
Ernest Meissonier? He was a contemporary with Edouard Manet, and by
far the more successful artist in terms of critical acclaim and sales.
The reverse is also true, with Vincent van Gogh probably the most
famous example. Van Gogh relied on his brother, Theo, to provide him
with paint and canvas, yet today his paintings fetch record prices
whenever they come up at art auction and he's a household name.
Looking at famous paintings past and present can teach you many
things, including composition and handling of paint. Though probably
the most important lesson is that you should ultimately paint for
yourself, not for a market or for posterity.