What can be in common between outstanding paintings – “Kiss” and “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, “The Birth of Venus” and “Scream”? Let’s take a look at eight masterpieces that we have known for so long that we have already stopped looking at them.
You will be surprised, but each of them has its own weirdness, its own secret, which usually escapes the viewer. And if you see him, you will be able to take a fresh look at these pictures.
Tapestry from Bayeux (late 11th century)
Unknown women, whose names have long since sunk into oblivion, a thousand years ago they embroidered a 70 m long tapestry, which depicts the events of the Norman conquest of England.
These women were not only skillful and indefatigable craftswomen, but also the most real storytellers and chroniclers.
The spear (or arrow) piercing the eye socket of King Harold at the end of the tapestry represents the narrative nuances from which the entire epic is woven. Just one stitch of the craftswoman – and we have before us the outcome of the Battle of Hastings.
Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (1482-1485)
The spiral curl of golden hair on Venus’s right shoulder flutters in the breeze, like a tiny engine right on the vertical axis of the canvas. Such a curl of perfect forms is by no means an accidental image.
A similar rotating spiral observed in the rapid attacks of birds of prey and in the bends of shells has puzzled people since ancient times. In the 17th century, Jacob Bernoulli, a Swiss mathematician, named it “Wonderful spiral” (curlspiramirabilis).
Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (1505-1510)
Researchers of the painting and simply attentive spectators know about this egg over the head of one of the riders. It is located right in the center of the triptych at the intersection of the conditional lines crosswise.
But how does this small detail reflect the meaning of the entire work? Some experts believe that although Bosch painted a terrible picture, he still hints that there is a way out and salvation. The egg is always a symbol of hope and rebirth.
Jan Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665)
If it seems to you that you see a large pearl in the portrait of a girl by Jan Vermeer, it really seems to you. In fact, these are “mind games”.
With a flick of his wrist and a few neat strokes of white paint, Vermeer misled your primary visual cortex in the occipital lobes of the brain – and now you see the pearl.
Take a closer look – and in fact there is no clasp or loop connecting this supposedly pearl with the girl’s ear. It’s just the perfect optical illusion of a master.
William Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed (1844)
The artist almost imperceptibly depicted a hare rushing along the dark path of an approaching train. He himself pointed to the animal before showing his work at the Royal Academy. But why did he do it?
The fact is that the hare symbolizes hope. And two years before the appearance of the picture, 15 km from the bridge painted on the artist’s canvas, a tragedy occurred: a derailed train took the lives of a dozen passengers.
The running bunny is a memory of the catastrophe and reflections on the frailty of life and the fragility of life.
Georges Seurat, Bathers at Asnieres (1884)
A large-scale painting (2×3 m) depicting Parisians by the river Seine was created in 1884, and a few years later Georges Seurat began to bring it to perfection.
He used the technique of tiny strokes that merged in the eyes of the viewer, if you look at the canvas from a distance. The artist followed the pointillism style and color theory from chemist Michel Chevreul, which talks about how the superimposition of shades creates the persistence of tone in perception.
In this picture, smoking chimneys are visible in the distance. This is a candle factory using innovative technology by Chevreul. Georges Seurat was grateful to the chemist for his progress in painting technique.
Edvard Munch, The Scream (1893)
For a very long time, there has been an opinion that Munch saw a Peruvian mummy at the Paris World Exhibition of 1889 and, under the impression, created this distorted screaming face on the canvas.
However, the artist was more worried about the future than about the artifacts of antiquity, and was very interested in the development of technology. At the Paris exhibition, he was rather struck by a huge installation in the form of one large electric light bulb and 20 thousand tiny bulbs inside.
Edison’s invention could not escape Munch’s attention. The screaming face in the picture, or rather, the jaw stretched down and the round skull, is a direct reference to the brainchild of Thomas Edison.
Gustav Klimt, The Kiss (1907)
Passion and love somehow do not connect at all with laboratory equipment and microscopes. However, this does not apply to Klimt’s paintings.
In 1907, all the scientists in Vienna tirelessly discussed blood cells and platelets. By the way, a couple of years earlier, Gustav Klimt was asked to create paintings on medical topics for the University of Vienna.
Then Karl Landsteiner worked there, the same immunologist who was the first to isolate blood groups in humans, and then create a safe process of blood transfusion.
Now take a closer look at the strange patterns that decorate women’s clothing – they are very similar to laboratory Petri dishes. Perhaps Klimt wanted to allegorically, like under a microscope, examine the soul of a loving woman.
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