It is said that men become artists so that they can persuade attractive young women – or in some cases men – to take their clothes off. It is also said that the artist and his or her muse are frequently lovers. So what really made Picasso, Gauguin and Augustus John so insatiable? Why is the Mona Lisa smiling? Does it have anything to do with Leonardo? Who was the prostitute that Van Gogh gave his severed ear to? What did Gaugin do with all those naked brown-skinned Tahitian girls? And why did Picasso, with his famously abstract style, need to fill his studio with pretty young nude models? Did they give him inspiration or perspiration? Turning the easel on many great artists, Cawthorne’s portraits give more than an impression.