Ever since Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code, the Internet has been flooded with people trying to find the "secrets" of the great art. From aliens in Renaissance paintings to countless conspiracies involving the Mona Lisa.
1. "Satyr mourning a nymph" actually shows a brutal murder.
The painting was painted by Piero di Cosimo in 1495, and it allegedly depicts a scene from Ovid's Metamorphoses. In this story, Procrida was accidentally killed in the forest by her husband, the hunter Cephalus, who mistakenly mistook his wife for a wild beast and impaled her with a spear.
This is a typical scene choice for a Renaissance artist, but there is one problem. Close examination shows that the Cosimo Procrida depicted in the painting could not have been killed by accident.
According to British professor Michael Baum, all signs point to the painting depicting a brutal murder. Prokrida has deep lacerations on her arm, as if she were trying to ward off knife attacks. Finally, there is also a wound on the neck.
Instead of depicting a scene from the novel, Cosimo's painting shows us the consequences of a violent knife attack. This was probably not done on purpose. Professor Baum suspects that Cosimo asked the local morgue to lend him a corpse in order to sketch a murder victim.
2. Diego Rivera testified that JD Rockefeller Jr. had syphilis.
Diego Rivera's work "The Man Who Runs the Universe" is one of the notable creations in the Mexican art of painting. The mural was originally commissioned for Rockefeller Center, but later remodeled in Mexico City after Nelson Rockefeller destroyed the mural.
He did not like that Lenin was depicted on it. The restoration of the image was also a monumental act of revenge. The mural claims that Nelson Rockefeller's father had syphilis.
Episodes of the latest scientific discoveries have become one of the key elements of the painting. Galaxies, exploding stars, many bacteria floating over the heads of men and women ...
After Nelson Rockefeller destroyed the original, Rivera painted his father, J.D. Rockefeller Jr., surrounded by the bacteria that cause syphilis.
That's not all. Despite the fact that J.D. Rockefeller Jr. was a teetotaler throughout his life, Rivera painted him with a martini in his hand and women who looked like prostitutes. To enhance the effect, he placed Lenin in the foreground.
3. In Isabella, a man hides his erection.
One of the leading figures of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, John Everett Millais, is probably best known today for his painting Ophelia. At least that was until 2012, when researchers discovered something unexpected in his painting "Isabella". It depicts a scene from Boccaccio's Decameron, and the shadow of an erect penis is clearly visible on the banquet table.
The Decameron is one of the most erotic books ever written, and the picture is full of references to sexuality. The character's outstretched leg represents a phallic symbol, and a pile of spilled salt near the shadow of the penis probably symbolizes a seed. It looks obscene, but at the same time it is not at all like ordinary pornography.
4. La Primavera expresses love for gardening.
This is one of the most famous works by Botticelli in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. La Primavera is also one of Botticelli's most enigmatic paintings. Due to the fact that it depicts a group of women walking across the sky like a meadow, experts still argue that the painting has an allegorical meaning.
But there is one theory that stands out from all the others for its evidence and weirdness, which claims that the picture is about gardening.
This version looks plausible because of the mind-boggling scrupulousness with which the author writes out each plant. According to official estimates, the painting depicts at least 500 meticulously rendered different plants of nearly 200 different species.
Some believe that these were all plants that grew in the 15th century in Florence and bloomed from March to May. Others argue that these plants Botticelli invented himself, especially for this picture.
5. The Music Lesson is filled with sexuality.
Created by Johannes Vermeer in the 1660s, The Music Lesson is considered one of the greatest paintings depicting 17th century Dutch life. A beautiful tutor teaches a young girl to play the harpsichord.
This is a photorealistic depiction of a typical high society day during Vermeer's time. At least that's the standard explanation. Some believe that the picture is permeated with sex and hidden passion.
According to this theory, the picture is filled with small keys to understanding the sexual tension between a girl and her mentor. It is not surprising that the image of the girl is associated with virginity, but the mirror above the harpsichord shows that the girl is actually looking at the teacher during the game.
The wine jug is an aphrodisiac, while the instrument on the floor is interpreted as a huge phallic symbol. If we look at the picture from this point of view, it is even possible to assume that the viewer is a voyeur.
And this is not only the case with this picture. Some art historians argue that the presence of music in Vermeer's paintings always symbolizes sexuality, which makes his work very strange.
6. Cafe Terrace at Night is reminiscent of The Last Supper.
Drawn in 1888, "Cafe Terrace at Night" is one of the most important works of Van Gogh, fully revealing the artist's special style. She is also one of his favorites. But some argue that it has a much deeper connotation. According to recent theory, Cafe Terrace at Night refers to The Last Supper.
From an early age, Van Gogh was extremely religious. His father was a Protestant priest, and influential art critics argue that the artist's paintings are filled with Christian imagery.
In the case of Cafe Terrace at Night, this imagery manifests itself in the form of Jesus coming to eat with his disciples. If you look closely at the diners, you can see that there are twelve of them and they are sitting around a central figure with long hair.
Tellingly, there is even a row of crosses hidden in the picture, including one directly above the figure of Christ. There is other evidence to support this theory.
When Van Gogh wrote to his brother about painting, he argued that the world has a "great need" for religion. He was also deeply infatuated with Rembrandt and expressed a desire to revitalize his style with subtle Christian symbolism. The "Cafe Terrace at Night" may well serve as proof that, in the end, he succeeded.
7. "Allegory with Venus and Cupid" warns of syphilis.
A picture that shows Venus and Cupid about to have sex in front of a bald man always disturbs the imagination. Even by the standards of its time, Agnolo Bronzino's painting "Allegory with Venus and Cupid" is a bit dark.
Despite rave reviews of the work as an erotic painting of "special beauty", there is ample evidence that this is indeed a warning of syphilis. This is evidenced by the screaming figure on the left side of the picture.
Although the classic description of the painting says that this is a metaphor of jealousy or despair, close examination shows that she is in fact very bad. The figure's fingers are swollen, like those of patients with syphilis, they lack nails, and the hair has signs of syphilitic alopecia. Toothless gums suggest mercury poisoning, which was used to treat syphilis in Renaissance Italy.
One of the characters has a rose thorn in the leg, but he does not notice it. This lack of sensation will be the direct result of syphilitic myelopathy. In other words, the picture depicts the suffering that awaits in the future those who follow the lead of the passions.
8. El Autobus talks about a terrible disaster.
A 1929 painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, El Autobus, shows the life of the Mexican community. A housewife, a worker, an Indian mother and a wealthy gringo businessman, despite their social differences, are waiting for the bus next to a girl who probably means Frida herself. All the characters in this picture do not know that a terrible accident awaits them.
In 1925, Kalo was riding a bus that crashed into a tram. The impact was so strong that Kahlo's body was pierced through by a metal rail.
Her later work often refers to this accident, implying that it is a miracle that she survived the crash. El Autobus is also no exception. There is an assumption that the worker in the picture is exactly the person who saved Kahlo's life by pulling the broken handrail out of her body.
9. Pictures of the Dutch school of painting - pictures in pictures.
The Dutch golden age of painting is second, perhaps, only to the Italian Renaissance. As in other eras, this time also had its own quirks in fashion and painting, one of which was that artists painted "pictures in pictures".
These "pictures in pictures" were painted not only by Vermeer and his fellow artists. Some people think that such pictures contain a special character code. One example of this style is the painting "Slippers" by Samuel van Hoogstraten.
At first glance, the painting shows an empty hall with two pairs of slippers lying in the middle of it. On the wall of the hall hangs a painting by Kaspar Netscher "A father scolds his daughter"
At first glance, nothing out of the ordinary. But contemporary Dutch art connoisseurs know that Netscher's painting was painted in a brothel. Apparently, these slippers belong to a man and a woman, but since the hall is empty, they may have gone to have sex.
In other cases, the code was thinner. In the paintings "Man Writing a Letter" and "Woman Reading a Letter" (pictured) Gabriel Metsu depicted a young man writing a letter to his beloved and reading it.
In the second picture, the image of a ship in a stormy sea symbolizes the turbulent nature of their further connection. In Vermeer's Love Letter, a ship under ominous clouds suggests possible bad news.
You can find hundreds of examples of these “inside the picture” Dutch paintings that subtly alter the meaning of the main image.