Some of the world’s most valuable paintings contain fascinating hidden mysteries. Unlocking the secrets of these profound riddles can increase your appreciation of our artistic heritage manifold. So, today we are going to take a look at the profound puzzles found in 7 of the world’s most famous works of art. After you've uncovered these secrets, you’ll never look at a painting the same way again!
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1. A Hundred Proverbs in One Picture Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1559)
This late sixteenth-century marvel depicts human life in a Flemish village. The wonderful secret about Bruegel’s painting is that the characters act out more than a hundred different proverbs touching upon human foolishness, such as ‘swimming against the tide’, ‘armed to the teeth’, and ‘banging one’s head against a brick wall.’ To have a closer look at the painting, watch the video at the end of this post.
2. Say What You See Breton Village in the Snow by Paul Gauguin (1894)
Hard as it is to believe, Gaugin’s painting here was sold for a mere seven francs after he died. What’s even more incomprehensible is that the auctioneer believed that the painting was of Niagara Falls, because he was holding it the wrong way around. Perhaps he was in the wrong business.
3. What’s Lurking Beneath the Surface? The Blue Room by Pablo Picasso (1901)
Researchers found a hidden image in this Picasso classic while studying the painting in 2008. X-ray cameras revealed a man seated and wearing a bow tie to be immediately below the familiar surface of the bathing lady. The reason? Curator Susan Behrends Frank believes that Picasso lacked materials, so was forced to reuse canvases whenever he had an idea in mind. This could mean a lot of other Picasso ideas remain hidden beneath his known works.
4. How Geniuses Work Rain, Steam and Speed — The Great Western Railway by J. M. W. Turner (1844)
One story goes that a lady named Mrs. Simon was traveling through England by steam train in 1942 when it suddenly began to rain heavily. She then noticed a fellow passenger, an elderly man, open a window and stick his head out, where he remained fixed for 10 minutes, oblivious to everything else but the countryside view. Mrs. Simon felt compelled to do the same herself.
Then more than a year later, while attending a Royal Academy Exhibition, she noticed this painting and instantly recognized the scene she had witnessed on the journey, and understood the old gent to be the great Turner himself.
5. A Cerebral Notion The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo (1511)
Medical experts now believe that Michelangelo’s famous creation painting contains an image of the human brain. It’s said that the heavenly Father and his angels come together in such a way that they mimic, to a high degree of accuracy, the actual anatomical dimensions of the organ. Have a look at the illustration below to see what you think.
6. Van Gogh’s Last Supper? Café Terrace at Night by Vincent Van Gogh (1888)
One art researcher, Jared Baxter, has argued persuasively that the Café Terrace at Night is really a homage to the Last Supper. The most prominent figure is a servant surrounded by 12 people. Furthermore, behind this Christ-like man is a cross. If we remember how much stock Jesus put in being a ‘minister’ (meaning servant), and how he washed the disciple’s feet, we can understand the depth and purity of Van Gogh’s symbol here.
7. A Tribute to Cheese? The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali (1931)
If you’ve ever tried to get into Salvador Dali’s mind, you’ll know how wild and random his thought processes seem to be. His famous melting clocks, though, are said to have had a very humble and mundane inspiration: melted cheese. Apparently, Dali was so taken by the wonderful oozing of his favorite heated Camembert that it took him off on a mad flight of fancy, producing one of the world’s most iconic images.