Paintings and frescoes have always excited the minds of scientists and art critics. And the use of X-rays during research only confirmed that old masterpieces are full of mysteries. Often a completely different plot is hidden under a layer of paint, later painted over by the artist. Sometimes the master deliberately hides in the picture a secret or Easter cake – a signature or an indication of how to properly understand the meaning of the canvas.
The popularity of the Da Vinci Code once revived interest in finding secret symbols hidden in paintings. We are in AdMe.ru decided to return to this topic and learn more about the secrets that hide the masterpieces of world painting.
Jakopino del Conte “Michelangelo Buonarroti”
The artist and sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti in old age struggled with a serious illness – arthritis. This diagnosis was made by a Renaissance master by a group of researchers who analyzed his portraits created in different years. Thus, portraits of Michelangelo between the ages of 60 and 65 depict his left arm sluggish and deformed. Additional evidence of the disease was found in personal correspondence, where an elderly artist complained of gout and said he could not respond to the letter because his hand refused to write.
John Singer Sargent “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose”
The name of this picture is happening from words from the song “Wreath”, popular in the 1880s. Artist John Singer Sargent and his friends often sang it in the house where the painting was later painted. To achieve the perfect purple color of twilight on the canvas, Sargent could to work just a few minutes every night, waiting for the perfect lighting. He prepared an easel in advance and arranged his models. And when autumn came and the flowers in the garden bloomed, the artist replaced them with artificial ones.
Now the picture is almost square in shape, but this has not always been the case. Initially, there was more than half a meter of space left on the left side. Sargent cut off this part to centralize the composition.
Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun: portraits of Marie Antoinette and self-portraits with her daughter
Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun was a talented French artist. But in order to remain in demand, she sometimes had to redraw paintings to please the customs of the time. A wave of criticism fell on the artist because of portrait Marie Antoinette: she had the audacity to portray the queen in a dress made of a material commonly used for underwear. A few days later, Vigee-Lebrun was forced to remove the painting from the exhibition and replace it with an identical portrait, but with a more traditional dress.
And the portrait of the artist with her daughter for the first time imprinted wide smile. This shocked critics, as the image of the teeth evoked negative associations: it was believed that such people do not control their emotions. Some time later, Elizabeth painted another self-portrait. Both canvases written she privately did not conform to the accepted rules of the official portrait, and the gently intertwined poses and natural expressions of the faces strengthened the depicted feelings of maternal love and protection.
Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper
Italian musician suggestedthat Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” encodes musical notes. He thought that the loaves of bread placed in a certain way on the table, as well as the hands of the heroes of the picture could be notes. But they did not make musical sense until the researcher realized that the score should be read from right to left, following the artist’s special style (his way of writing is still called Leonardo’s handwriting). The notes played in this way form a composition similar to a requiem.
Thomas Fayed “Mistakes on Both Sides”
In this picture, entitled “Mistakes on Both Sides”, the couple is sitting silently at the matrimonial bed, unable to communicate after an argument. A man in despair bites the handle of a cane, and a woman with flushed cheeks twists a handkerchief to contain her anger. The faithful dog is alarmed by what is happening and looks at his owners with despair. Researchers considerthat the author of the painting Thomas Fayed painted a self-portrait, depicting himself next to a woman.
There is a theory that Rembrandt installed flat and concave mirrors to project his reflection onto the surface before drawing a self-portrait. So, the earliest self-portraits of the artist amaze level of detail. Presumably, it was thanks to this technique that he was able to achieve a high degree of accuracy. In favor of the use of Rembrandt mirrors speaks offset from the center look artist in many self-portraits. Also in the paintings you can see a rounded area, outside of which the image seems to blur a bit – vignettes. Researchers suggestthat this boundary marked the edge of the projected image.
Diego Velázquez “Menina”
An X-ray showed that at first the left half of Diego Velázquez’s painting was completely closed the red curtain from which the boy presumably held out an infante scepter. So it was a very clear and simple dynastic picture: the heiress to the throne in the background of the king and queen, the founders of the dynasty, in the form of a reflection in a mirror. However, a few years later, the couple gave birth to a male heir, so Velazquez at the request of the king changed the picture and painted himself.
Jan Vermeer “Astronomer”
Astronomer Vermeer is surrounded by the attributes of his profession: the celestial globe, compass, astrolabe. But in the upper right corner we see a partially truncated frame picture, the plot of which is reminiscent of the story of the salvation of Moses. Curiously, the same picture appears in another work by Vermeer – “A young woman writing a letter and her maid.” Researchers are still debating whose painting the artist quoted. It is clear that the presence of a picture in a picture makes this work not just a genre scene, but suggests metaphysical reflection.
Thus, according to some, the astronomer, who stretched out his hand to the celestial sphere, is in search of a spiritual path. Others see this as a reference to astrology, as it can be assumed that the scientist is in the process of compiling a horoscope for a child who is about to be born to his client.
Hendrik Cornelis van der Vlit “Female Portrait”
The “female portrait” of the Dutch artist Hendrik Cornelis van der Vlit kept its secret for several centuries. Author’s signature containing the words Aeta` 32 A.not so long ago was found on canvas in the process of preparing a painting for the exhibition. It testifies that the lady depicted in the portrait is 32 years old (Aeta` 32; Latin Aetas, Aetatis – “aged, years”). Pearl pendants and rings emphasize the status of a woman, on the other hand – meet the requirements of simplicity. The lady’s suit is also simple and elegant.
And what masterpieces of world painting do you still find the most mysterious?