From Van Gogh’s Starry Night, to Leonardo Davinci’s Mona Lisa, here are 9 Hidden Secrets Within the World’s Most Famous Paintings.
9. The Old Guitarist, by Pablo Picasso
Painted in 1903, shortly after the suicide of one of his closest friends, this painting depicts a solitary old guitar player, sitting in a seemingly awkward position. Having lived in near poverty himself, Pablo Picasso sympathizes with the miseries of those less fortunate in his artwork. This appears to be a very simple painting at first sight, but should one examine it a bit more closely, a faded outline of a face becomes noticeable to the right of the guitarist’s head. Infrared scans and x-rays of the painting have revealed that Picasso originally meant to paint a scene with a woman nursing a baby instead. A possible explanation for this ‘hidden’ painting could be that the artist simply didn’t have sufficient funds to purchase new canvases and painted new inspirations on top of previous work.
8. The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali
“I used melting cheese as inspiration for the clocks”, Salvador Dali admitted on the rare occasion when he talked about his works. Of course, he could’ve have been just joking about it in his attempts to keep the painting as mysterious as possible. What we do know, however, is that this painting was created while the artist was hallucinating. Dali’s goal was to be able to create ‘hand-painted dream photographs’, and to do that he believed he needed to enter in self-induced psychotic hallucination states. He admitted that what he creates during these states of altered consciousness often frightens and surprises him. Perhaps, Salvador Dali isn’t capable of explaining the true intentions of his works, since they were influenced by his subconscious and dreams that he himself doesn’t fully understand. While the backstory of the clocks may never be known, the background landscape in the painting is believed to be Dali’s view from his family’s summer house in Catalonia.
7. The Starry Night, by Van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh's painting 'Starry Night' is considered one of the most historic pieces of art ever created. The artist painted it just a year before his passing in 1889.
But it was only in 2004 that scientists discovered an uncanny resemblance between the swirling patterns in the painting and observations captured by the Hubble Telescope about spiralling clouds of gas and dust around a distant star.
Ever stopped to wonder about where Vincent van Gogh’s inspiration for the ‘Starry Night’ came from? The swirling stars painted in 1889, just one year before his death, have been interpreted as the swirling emotions, beauty, pain and hope. But in 2004, scientists looking at images captured by the Hubble Telescope discovered a startlingly close resemblance between Van Gogh’s swirls and those that clouds of gas and dust form around a distant star! While living in an asylum, Van Gogh had plenty of time to star gaze, and the Starry Night painting is based off the exact view from his asylum room window. With all that time to ponder the world beyond, scientist believed Van Gogh stumbled upon the complex concept of turbulence, which explains the whirlpools and eddies that form in clouds. It is also said that van Gogh was referencing the Book of Genesis, since he painted exactly eleven stars in the night sky, and a handful of other parallels to complex scientific theories have been spotted in his other works.
6. The Scream, by Edvard Munch
Not a well-kept secret, this painting by Edvard Munch actually has several versions of it even a lithograph on stone, all done by the artist, trying out different materials and techniques. While this painting is now widely known by the name ‘the Scream’, its original title, intended by the creator, was actually ‘the Scream of Nature’, and is based off a phantasmagoric delusion the artist had off the water below a bridge he was crossing with his friends turning to fire while a scream pierced the world and tore through nature. The placement of the hands and hollowed cheeks have an uncanny similarity to the hand placement of mummies buried in the fetal position. Edvard Munch often painted with the blues, greens and purples of the Norwegian night sky. This painting reveals an homage to one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in history. The Krakatoa, a gray volcano in Indonesia, erupted in 1883 producing the strongest heard explosion ever recorded - 180 decibels and heard over 160 kilometers away. The event killed everyone within 20 kilometers and volcanic ashes rose into the atmosphere.
5. The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, painted by Michelangelo
4. Pope Paul III and his Grandsons, by Titian
3. The Arnolfini portrait, by Jan van Eyck
2. Rembrandt’s self portraits
1. The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci