Hidden Messages In Famous Art

By Aaron Love 11 months ago

Second Portrait, Mona Lisa- Leonardo Da Vinci

Image Source: Daily Mail
This isn't the first time you'll find Leonardo Da Vinci within this list, in fact it's not the only time you'll find the Mona Lisa here either (spoilers!!). During some examinations of the famous painting in 2015 scientists actually found that a second portrait of a woman could be found beneath the layer we all know! Most people come to the conclusion that the first layer must have been a draft and that this was the start of him coming to develop the masterpiece that has become the most well-known piece of art in history.Original content sourced from Femanin.com

Human Brain, The Sistine Chapel- Michaelangelo

Image Source: Reader's Digest
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City is one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world, particularly for the very religious followers of Christianity. It was fully painted by world famous artist Michelangelo and it turns out he actually left a few secret messages that people have discovered as the years have gone by. One of the most popular messages found comes in the photo above, it shows God giving Adam his first spark of life and the red cloak that flows behind him is shaped like the human brain.

Hidden Man, Arnolfini Portrait- Jan Van Eyck

Image Source: Reddit
You might not instantly recognise anything hidden in this painting and I suppose that means that Van Eyck must have done quite a good job! There's actually two hidden parts to this painting, can you find them? One of them is that little bit of writing on the wall behind the two people that reads 'Jan van Eyck was here 1434' in Latin. That really was a thing all the way back then as well! And if you look in the mirror you can see he actually also painted himself in to the image too! A very comedic man obviously.

Cheese Clocks, The Persistence Of Memory- Salvador Dali

Image Source: Reddit
If you haven't seen this painting before, I recommend you give it a google, it's just a little bit trippy. Salvador Dali was known for creating some quite crazy and surreal images and this is no different. The clocks in the image seem to be melting and many people assumed this was a reference to Einstein's relativity theory. However, Dali being the man he was, was known to suggest that the melting clocks were actually the representation of the 'Camembert of time and space'. I don't know what he was on but it worked!

Snarky Angel, Sistine Chapel (2)- Michaelangelo

Image Source: Reddit
It turns out the Michelangelo actually left a few secret messages within his work atop the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You might not know that Pope Julius II, the man who requested the painting be completed, was actually a much disliked pope and many people were vocal about this. It turns out that Michelangelo made Zechariah look like the pope and have the angels behind him making hand old timey mockery hand gestures! Looks like there's always been people out there supporting the less fortunate!

A Madman, The Scream- Edvard Munch

                 Image Source: The Times Of Israel
The Scream is by far Edvard Munch's most notable work and on the surface it's actually incredibly creepy, it looks like the sort of thing you might expect to see in one of your nightmares! During some examinations of the image, art historians found the sentence 'Can only have been painted by a madman' hidden at the top left of the painting and claimed it was his own handwriting. I mean at least he's honest I suppose? He was known to have suffered from mental breakdowns so I guess right?

Bum Music, The Garden Of Earthly Delights- Hieronymus Bosch

Image Source: Open Culture
This is one of the more bizarre hidden messaged to feature on this list, but the the bottom of one of the panels which is supposed to represent temptation we see a naked man whose top half his hidden, and his butt is covered in musical notes. Despite it being quite difficult to read, in 2014 a group of students managed to work out what was being played and recorded it. These days you can actually listen to it if you search it on YouTube, and just pre-warning you, it comes across as something you might hear in a horror film!

Flower Power, Primavera- Botticelli

Image Source: Reddit
This isn't Botticelli's most famous work but it is one that features one of the coolest hidden features of any of the famous works to feature within this list. You might be more familiar with a piece of Botticelli's work known as The Birth of Venus! However, within Primavera, Botticelli showed his knowledge and prowess of flowers as he actually painted 500 different species of plant, moreover they were so accurately painted they could be recognised scientifically just by sight. Not only was he a great artist but it turns out he had his eyes on some floristry too!

Fertility, The Birth Of Venus- Botticelli

Image Source: Reddit
Botticelli followed by Botticelli, this one has a slightly less obvious hidden message, although historians claim that they managed to find one. The image shows the goddess Venus, standing atop a sea shell that's floating on the ocean, and they believe that this is meant to represent the idea of female fertility and their genitalia. I'm not so sure about this one but who am I to argue with historians! The image is actually better known for introducing nudity to his art as prior to this it was looked down on a little!

Science, The Starry Night- Vincent Van Gogh

Image Source: Reddit
It turns out that Vincent Van Gogh had noted a phenomenon not known in the scientific world over a 100 years before the discovery was officially noted following use of the Hubble Telescope. Without going in to too much complicated detail, Van Gogh's popular painting showed some understanding of how dusts and gases moved around a star. Surely this must have been some sort of accident? Either that or Van Gogh had some form of knowledge that had evaded everyone in science for centuries.

Leo's Initials, Mona Lisa (2)- Leonardo Da Vinci

Image Source: Reddit
It turns out that Leonardo Da Vinci enjoyed putting a few secret messages within his works and his most popular, The Mona Lisa, was no exception. Following some microscopic examination of the painting, experts found that he had actually scrawled his initials in miniscule writing within the lady's right eye. This was obviously not traditional with the times (nor was it traditional at any time in the arts world!). They decided it had to be somewhere as he hadn't signed the painting with his name elsewhere as he had with all of his other paintings!

Fake Strap, Madame X- Jon Singer Sargent

Image Source: Reddit
Jon Sargent Singer wasn't a particularly popular artist at the time he created this 19th century art piece, so his attempt to build his fame came by painting this lady; she was a popular lady within the city of Paris. However, all he managed to do was infuriate the people of France as he painted the lady with the right strap not on her shoulder but falling down. These days this is more than acceptable, but back then it caused outrage! He tried to gain everyone's support back by fixing the image but ended up having to evacuate Paris to avoid the backlash.

Hidden Portrait, Bacchus- Caravaggio

Image Source: Reddit
Bacchus, if you didn't know, was the Roman god of wine (what a kind of god to be by the way!). Crazily though, for centuries after this piece was first created in the 1500's, people didn't know about the hidden feature that Caravaggio had snuck in to his work! This was because the canvas had developed layers of dirt over the years! He had actually snuck a miniscule self portrait into the jug of wine at the bottom left of the picture as a reflection. Maybe he just had wine on his mind and this was his way of getting it off!

Musical Hymn, The Last Supper- Leonardo Da Vinci

Image Source: Reader's Digest
This is another of Da Vinci's work we'll be having more than one look at! A number of theories have arisen as the years have gone by surrounding what messages have been hidden within this famous painting. One popular Italian musician actually claims that if you draw the lines that musical notes are written on atop the painting each of the apostles hands and loaves of bread actually play a tune that sounds very much like a melody you might find within a religious hymn. Could he have been that smart? Or do you think that this person might be clutching at straws a little?

Her Own Story, El Autobus- Frida Kahlo

Image Source: Reddit
The hidden message within this image is so hidden that you technically can't even see it! In fact you have to go and research the image to truly understand it's hidden message! On the top layer it seems to just be a group of people sat at a bus stop, nothing special right? But actually it's relevant to the painter herself as years before she painted this piece she was involved in a bus crash! It's believed that the woman on the far right is Frida herself and the man in the dungarees is the man who saved her!

Dead Woman- Patch Of Grass- Vincent Van Gogh

Yes, I know it looks like a patch of grass with a red box on it, but this red box actually hid an unknown secret for over centuries. It seems impossible for something to be hidden in a piece of art that is simply just a lot of green grass and a few flowers but it's another one of those pieces that was reworked! Beneath the now famous piece of art, there is actually evidence that Van Gogh had painted over one of his old pieces of work, an image of a lady that is now long in the past (and beneath a few blades of grass).

Hidden Skull, The Ambassadors- Hans Holbein

Image Source: Reddit
Most of the hidden messages or parts of the images so far have been well hidden, some impossible to see. However this Hans Holbein piece's big hidden secret really is BIG. On first glance it's actually hard to tell what the blob at the bottom of the piece actually is but it has been suggested it's actually a rug, although I don't know who's seeing it. In fact, it's almost an ancient optical illusion as if you look at the image from a few specific angles it actually becomes quite obvious that it's a squished up skull. What do you think the reason is for this optical illusion to be involved in this image?

A Real Accident, An Accident- L.S. Lowry

Image Source: Art UK
L.S. Lowry is perhaps most well known within the UK for his works which often showed how difficult life could be for people within England that didn't live in the major cities like London. He's also well-known for each of his pieces containing little matchstick-looking people intertwined with the scenes he's trying to set. This piece, An Accident, is said to show a group of people trying to recover from an accident that actually happened in and around 1926 in Greater Manchester (the north-west of the UK!)

More Anatomy, The Sistine Chapel (3)- Michelangelo

Image Source: Italian Renaissance
Evidently, Michelangelo had quite the grasp on the human anatomy as the human brain wasn't the only thing he snuck onto the panels of the Sistine Chapel. Some art historians have claimed that in the panel titles the 'Separation of Light From Darkness' it shows he has an even greater knowledge of the human body. Supposedly in the centre of God's body, Michelangelo added the image of the human spinal cord and also the brain stem. Is this right? Or is it just the crease in his clothing?

Hidden Whale, View Of Scheveningen Sands- Hendrick Van Anthonissen

Image Source: Reddit
This popular piece of artwork sat in the Fitzwilliam Museum, in the UK, for over 100 years without anyone managing to spot the huge mistake within the painting! At first glance, many people believed that it just showed a group of people staring at nothing in the ocean. That's because, for some reason, the huge beached whale (the most obvious part of the painting!) had actually been covered with a coat of yellow varnish. No one knows why this had been done, but it really changed the narrative of this piece.

The Last Supper (Remake?), Café Terrace At Night- Vincent Van Gogh

Image Source: Reddit
Another of the most famous painters to ever have existed now, and he's actually believed to have taken inspiration from Leo Da Vinci for this one. Although on first sighting it just seems to be what the title of the painting is, A café terrace at night, people have come to the conclusion this is a modern recreation of Leo's The Last Supper. You might begin to notice some similarities, like the fact there are 12 people sat around the cafe, the fact the central character has longer hair and that there seems to be a cross behind him! If only we could see what they were eating.

The Gimel, Sistine Chapel (4)- Michelangelo

Image Source: Art And The Bible
No, this time we aren't looking at something to do with the human anatomy, but Michelangelo didn't stop there when incorporating hidden messages in to his art. In the panel featured in the Sistine Chapel that represents David and Goliath their stance is shaped the way it is (supposedly) in order to reference the shape of the hebrew letter 'Gimel'. You might be unaware of the hebrew language (so was I, don't worry!) but this actually refers to reward and punishment!

Idioms, The Blue Cloak- Pieter Bruegel

Image Source: Reddit
It would probably take you hours to find all of the secret messages from within this famous 1559 painting and as it turns out, that seems to be what Pieter Bruegel's intentions were when he developed this piece! Genuinely, go and have a look at the image in person (or via the internet like me) and see if you can spot all of the idioms he's painted out in to real scenarios. The most obvious one I was able to find is at the bottom left of the painting where we see a man literally banging his head against a brick wall!

Lost Self Portrait, Young Woman Powdering Herself- Georges Seurat

Image Source: Starting Point 102
Again, on first glance there doesn't seem to be any hidden messages within this particular Seurat artwork. However, following some X-ray examination it was found that the flower painting was originally a self-portrait of himself on the wall. Rumours and stories from the time suggest his friend actually told him it looked too weird, but when you take into account the image is based on his mistress at the time, it's likely the picture of him really could have been on the wall behind her!

Mary Magdalene?, The Last Supper (2)- Leonardo Da Vinci

Image Source: Grazia
It's unproven, and I assume it always will be unproven, that Dan Brown's ideas within the controversial Da Vinci books and films could be reality. It's long been understood that the disciple to Jesus' right has quite a feminine image and Brown claimed that this is because it was actually Mary Magdalene. He also suggested the 'V' gap between the two represents a womb and that they had a child together; most of this has been rebuffed by art historians who are adamant that history portrays John as a feminine character.

UFO?, Madonna With Saint Giovannino- Domenico Ghirlandaio

Image Source: Reddit
First things first, no, we aren't talking about world famous songstress Madonna here, but actually The Virgin of San Giovannino. You know her right? She's not really relevant though when we're discussing the secret message within this painting however. People have been back and forth when trying to decipher what is behind her in the sky. Those with an 'out there' mind claim it has to be a UFO but more likely, if you're grounded, you'll probably agree it has a more religious reason than aliens.

Hidden Face, The Old Guitarist- Pablo Picasso

Image Source: Reddit
Pablo Picasso is another of the most popular, world-renowned artists to feature on this list and he actually left a hidden feature in one of his creepier pieces of work. It actually turns out that this wasn't a purposeful message either, as similarly to the Mona Lisa's second portrait it seems as though Picasso began painting something else before he conjured up The Old Guitarist. Under examination, and using some advanced technology researchers found a hidden face just around the old man's neck!

Sex Symbols, The Music Lesson- Johannes Vermeer

Image Source: Reddit
Johannes Vermeer has gained a name for himself as the painter who liked to hide images of sexuality within his paintings, often hidden in natural (or seemingly natural) scenarios. This image is littered with supposedly sexual references like the phallic looking instrument on the floor leading from the male instructor, the fact she's looking away from the VIRGINAL (instrument) and instead staring at her male instructor and there's also a jug of wine on the table just for good measure. He has his ways.

Fish Shadow, Supper At Emmaus- Caravaggio

Image Source: Emmaus
As you might have noticed, many of the hidden messages within famous paintings have a relevance to the bible in a number of ways. And for the second time in this list, Caravaggio features. In this 1601 piece he created a shadow that seemingly doesn't fit with what it should look like based on what's around it. As you can see, the basket's shadow gives off a fish like image, something art historians believe is referring to when Jesus fed the poor with a few fish. It might be a bit of a stretch but who am I to argue.

Scared Or Proud?, David- Michelangelo

Image Source: Reddit
Michelangelo is back... AGAIN! Turns out he wasn't just a genius with some paint and a brush, but he was also incredibly talented with a chisel too. The popular David statue, also found in the Sistine Chapel, shows David supposedly just before he fights Goliath. A 2007 examination of the statue however, found that David's expression seems to change dependent on where it is you look at his face from! If you look straight on he seems to be confident and proud but if you look from above him he seems scared... how did he manage this??