9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding

To understand any work of art, you must have extensive knowledge in the fields of history, religion, mythology, and literature. It is this knowledge that helps decode things that hide insignificant details and helps you understand why some artists continued to perfect their canvases for many years, while others created new paintings over other ones.

Crfat Sides authors spent many hours looking at the websites of various museums to talk about masterpieces that are not as simple as they seem.

There is a bonus waiting for you at the end of the article: Mona Lisa, one of the most mysterious paintings in the world, has many “doubles”.

Great Mysteries Hidden In Famous Paintings

9. Unknown artist, The portrait of Isabella de’Medici

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© CarnegieMuseumofArt / facebook   © CarnegieMuseumofArt / facebook 

A Renaissance portrait of an unknown artist was discovered by accident. Initially, art critics believed this was a very good fake of medieval painting, but it turned out that the portrait was repainted in the 19th century.

A prominent nose, a high forehead, and a large chin were hidden under layers of paint: the face of the medieval aristocratic girl was transformed into the beautiful face of a young coquette to sell the canvas.

It was discovered, with the help of X-rays, how the woman was initially represented in the portrait. The restorers removed the paint layer by layer, returning the image to its original shape.

8. Francisco de Goya Portrait of Don Ramón Satué

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes Portret van Don Ramón Satué / commons.wikimedia   © rijksmuseum / facebook 

Ramón Satué was a friend of Francisco de Goya. He was a member of the Madrid court and a high official in Madrid. The portrait was painted in gratitude for the fact that the Satué family hid the artist during the repressions.

During an X-ray study, scientists found insufficient paint: the image of a man in his uniform. It was not finished, making it impossible to say who was portrayed.

It was suggested that Goya painted the King of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. After the government lost power, the painter decided not to finish the painting and created a new one.

7. Vasili Pukirev The Unequal Marriage

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© Vassili Pukiryov The Unequal Marriage / wikimedia.commons  

According to one version of the story behind this painting, the painter portrayed the drama of his own life. The bride is Pukirev’s longed-for bride Praskovia Varentsova, while the older groom is the leader of the Tver nobility, Alexey Markovich Poltoratskiy.

If you look closer, there is a lady behind the groom. But why is she wearing a white dress and a flower crown on her head? This outfit is typical of the bride. Scientists suggest that this is the soul of his first wife who appeared at the wedding.

6. Pablo Picasso The Blue Room

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© phillipscollection.org   © phillipscollection.org 

In 2008, after careful X-ray study, art critics found another painting hidden behind Picasso’s blue room.

It was a portrait of an old man in a suit and bow tie. Picasso had many ideas, but he did not always have the money to buy new canvases, so he painted new images on old ones.

5. Sandro Botticelli Primavera

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© Sandro Botticelli Primavera / wikipedia  

The painting was created by order of Lorenzo de ‘Medici and was supposed to become a wedding gift. It is not just a representation of an old story, but a sophisticated and secret message for the next wedding.

Venus here is a shy married woman and her veil proves it. Once the groom has chosen to marry a noble girl and a goddess, his life will be sweet and happy.

The Three Graces represent three things: pleasure, chastity, and beauty. Mercury represents the main male characteristics of sensitivity and eloquence. Cupid’s blindfolded eyes say love is blind.

4. Paul Gauguin Be Be (The Nativity)

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© hermitagemuseum 

How are Tahitian women linked to the Nativity? Paul Gauguin was never religious; Furthermore, he was more agnostic than atheist.

While living in Tahiti, the painter became interested in biblical storylines. He even released a manuscript called The Modern Spirit and Catholicism.

During this period, Gauguin’s beloved wife, Pahura, from the Maori tribe, gave birth to a son.

Here he captured the moment of his son’s birth. Soon after, the son of Pahura and Gauguin dies and this tragic event took place at Christmas.

3. Gustave Courbet Preparation of the Bride

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© museums.fivecolleges.edu   © museums.fivecolleges.edu  

The realist painter Gustave Courbet portrayed everyday life and its scenes: funerals, weaving, after lunch, and village girls.

The painting, Preparation of the Bride, could go unnoticed, among other works by Courbet, if art critics had not been interested in it.

In 1960, it was carefully studied with infrared rays and it was discovered that there was no girlfriend.

The heroine is naked and the girls around her are wearing black dresses. The screen was initially found to be called Preparation of the Dead Girl.

2. Hans Holbein The Ambassadors

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© Hans Holbein The Ambassadors / commons.wikimedia 

Holbein represented 2 real ambassadors: Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve. The background objects speak of a dispute between the clergy and science.

The broken lute, the open psaltery, the globe, the sundial, and the arithmetic books confirm this.

There is a strange and unknown stain in the foreground: it is a distorted skull symbolizing death.

If you look at the screen in a straight line, it looks normal and the skull is not that noticeable: according to the author, death is something that doesn’t really matter.

But if you look at the canvas from a different angle, death becomes the reality that distorts common things.

1. Mikhail Vrubel The Demon Seated and The Demon Downcast

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© Mikhail Vrubel Demon Seated / commons.wikimedia   © Mikhail Vrubel The Fallen Demon / commons.wikimedia 

Vrubel claimed that his “seated demon” was not a demon, but a soul. This is how the word “demon” is translated from the Greek language.

He is a proud and free personality who opposes the world. The Demon Downcast is broken and weak. It is a reflection of the author’s madness.

Vrubel’s mental state was gradually worsening and he had redone this work of art several times. He suffered from insomnia and was obsessed with his work.

The painting was purchased by the famous art collector, Vladimir von Meck. Vrubel started having fun later, wasting the money he got, drinking a lot of alcohol, and continuing to fight with his wife.

Finally, the painter was placed in a private hospital with symptoms of a mental disorder.

Bonus: Mona Lisa exists in several variations

9 Mysteries That World-Famous Paintings Are Hiding
© Leonardo da Vinci / Wikimedia   © Gian Giacomo Caprotti / Wikimedia 

There are around 20 canvases depicting La Gioconda. Some of them were painted by Leonardo da Vinci’s students.

Although some researchers believe that the painter himself is the artist who painted these paintings.

Some of them totally resemble the original, others portray the main character in a different pose.

Her clothes and some details are also different. All replicas, without exception, are an effort to repeat the famous smile of La Gioconda.

What other hidden details of famous paintings do you know? Tell us about them in the comments.

Preview photo credit Vassili Pukiryov The Unequal Marriage / wikimedia.commons

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