Is it a code or just an art? Mysteries behind famous paintings
If you have watched the Da Vinci Code and other Dan Brown novel-based movies, you must wonder how much of those conspiracy theories are actually true. The whole idea of people leaving a message behind in a code or even in simple writing hundreds of years ago makes for an exciting discovery. So when this week it was discovered that the scribbling on the famous The Scream painting was not an act of vandalism but a part of the painting, the art world went into a tizzy. So are there more such codes, and how many have we discovered? Let’s find out
The most recent one of course is Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece The Scream, depicting a face screaming in horror. A scribbled sentence on one of its four versions — “can only have been painted by a mad man” — has remained a mystery.
Written on the top left-hand corner of the painting, the sentence has often been attributed to an act of vandalism. Now, Norway’s National Museum has proposed that the writing is by the Norwegian artist himself. Munch is known to have suffered from mental illnesses, and several of his works portray his agony and anxiety. The researchers think that the handwriting on the painting matches that of Munch’s.
The Last Supper
Who can forget The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. The 15th-century artwork is believed to hold several secret messages, the most popular being that the “beloved disciple” on Jesus’s right is Mary Magdalene and not John. It’s also believed that the Renaissance artist hid a musical composition in the mural. In 2003, Italian musician and computer technician Giovanni Maria Pala started studying the work to decipher the musical arrangement, leading to the book La Musica Celata (The Hidden Music).
The Starry Night
Painted by the post-impressionist Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh in 1889, is the Starry Night. It’s believed that he painted it during his stay at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in southern France. In 2004, NASA shared a new picture from the Hubble Space Telescope which bears remarkable similarities to the Van Gogh work, complete with never-before-seen spirals of dust swirling across trillions of miles of interstellar space.
The Creation of Adam
If you’ve been to the Sistine Chapel and marvelled at The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, it would be difficult to miss that the painting on the ceiling contains many hidden human body anatomical parts. Michelangelo was an expert in human anatomy. The painter placed some carefully concealed illustrations of certain body parts onto the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And if you look at the shroud surrounding God in The Creation of Adam, you’ll find that it creates an anatomical illustration of the human brain.
Another work of Da Vinci has captured the imagination of the world for years now is Monalisa. The canvas hides numerous layers, under that mysterious half smile. While historically it is believed that the woman in the painting is Lisa Gherardini, wife of Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo, others argue it is a portrait of a man or a self-portrait of the artist himself. In 2011, Italian researcher Silvano Vinceti claimed that he found letters ‘S’ and ‘L’ in the woman’s left and right eye, respectively, and the number ‘72’ under the bridge in the backdrop. According to him, the letter ‘L’ stood for Leonardo, “S” for a woman in the Sforza dynasty that ruled Milan and ‘7’ and ‘2’ may refer to important numbers in Christianity and Judaism.
The Old Guitarist
Pablo Picasso’s depiction of an elderly man cradling a guitar is one of the most revered works of his Blue Period. However, in 1998, researchers used an infrared camera and discovered that there is another painting layered underneath it, which features a woman. Now that the paint is fading, it’s become easier to see the woman’s face above the old man’s neck.