Amazing Hidden Details Stored Away in World-Famous Artwork

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Say what you want about art, but it’s truly something that we can learn more about every time we look at it. From the artwork in a museum to the pictures you have at home, hidden details are always going unnoticed.

By Michelangelo - See below., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71427942

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It’s just part of the skill of being an artist; if you know every detail that appears in an image, there is a good chance that you painted it in the first place! How, though, can so many people look at so many famous pieces of art and miss the symbols, though?

Want an example? Let’s take a look at some famous hidden imagery and symbols that are in some of the most famous worldwide artworks.

1. The Starry Night by Van Gogh

One of the best examples of hidden imagery in a classic piece of artwork includes the famous Starry Night piece by Dutch art legend Vincent van Gogh. This stunning piece of artwork is famous due to when it was painted as much as what it actually shows in the imagery.

By Vincent van Gogh - Transferred from the English Wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4603625

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Indeed, it’s also far ahead of his own time in terms of mathematics. The pattern of this image is one that is based on the “turbulent flows” mathematics concept – long before it was even a thing! How smart can one man be?

2. Netherlands Proverbs by Bruegel the Elder

This is quite a famous piece and shows us a very interesting range of actions taking place in the one image. If you look at the whole image, though, there is quite a lot that can go missing. It’s showing us the business of a street in this part of the world back in the 1550s, but what else?

By Pieter Breughel the Younger, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66726139

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Given this is supposed to be a recreation of some very interesting Dutch expressions, a few more English-speaking ones make their way. From the world being upside down to someone running into a brick wall, this shows some very interesting parables indeed!

3. Madonna with Saint Giovannino by Ghirlandaio

This is a famous piece, and one of the most famous artwork of the era. However, the fact it was made during the 15th Century makes one particular piece of the artwork stand out more than most. Take a look to the right of the centerpiece of the image, and what do you see?

By Attributed to Arcangelo di Jacopo del Sellaio - Unknown source, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9655081

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You see what is obviously something flying in the sky. Now, this was long before anyone had come up with the concept of being able to fly in a vehicle. There is also no animal in known history that was this big that could also fly. So, just what is it? We’ll let you decide.

4. Sistine Madonna by Raphael

Another deeply famous painter was Raphael, a tremendous artist and one of the most impressive artists of the era for sure. This image, though, was known for the fact that it has a few unique hidden details.

By Raphael - CgEiMJRg7ZS6DA at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21963209

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For example, look closer towards the face of the clouds – can you see the little angel faces popping out from the clouds?

It might seem hard to spot at first, but it is 100% there. This image has many interesting little ideas like stored away int the image. You just need to look for them as you go through the images!

5. The Last Supper by Da Vinci

Without doubt his most famous work, the recreation of Jesus Christ and co. at the Last Supper is a true legend of the artistic world. However, it’s a piece that has a hidden mystery stored within.

By Leonardo da Vinci - Unknown source, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24759

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According to Italian musician Giovanni Maria Pala, you can see a sheet music-like design in the way the hands are laid out within the painting itself.

Played left to right, it creates a beautiful melody that is actually hard to imagine. How can one piece contain not one, but two, amazing pieces of artistry that few others could create?

6. The Old Guitarist by Picasso

Picasso is without a doubt one of the most famous names in art, and his The Old Guitarist piece is a genuine classic. However, the piece gained major fame due to the fact it’s got some very interesting hidden imagery. 

By Fuzheado (talk) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83635608

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The Old Guitarist, if you look closely, is actually a repaint over an old canvas. Pervious paintings can be found, such was the poverty Picasso endured despite his now worldwide talents.

7. Mona Lisa by Da Vinci

Another Da Vinci classic is the amazing Mona Lisa portrait. This is a very special image, and one of the most famous images of all time. It’s most specific information, though, shows you just how detailed Da Vinci was.

By Leonardo da Vinci - Cropped and relevelled from File:Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, from C2RMF.jpg. Originally C2RMF: Galerie de tableaux en très haute définition: image page, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15442

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With microscopic tools, you can actually see the letters ‘LV’ behind the eyes of Mona Lisa. The number 72 can also be found near the head, towards the background. Imagine the intricacy needed to add that to an image!

8. Bacchus by Caravaggio

Another hugely popular painting is the famous Bacchus image that was painted by Caravaggio. This stunning piece, a recreation of the Greek god of the grape harvest, has many minor details hidden away that you would need to look for to find in full.

By Caravaggio - Web Gallery of Art: Image Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15494089

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For example, modern tech was used to try and find out what the reflection shows in the image on the wine glass. Apparently, you can see a man painting onto a canvas in the reflection of the jug – is that not an incredible example of how artistically incredible Caravaggio was?

As you can see, then, art is a deeply unique place. The way that artists can manage to stuff in these little features without making them a focal point of the image is a truly impressive thing indeed. 

We would recommend taking a look at some other images like this – you might just shock yourself at how much detail and realism manages to exist in the many photos out there.

With so much to enjoy and to look at as you go through old-school art, be sure to look out for these little hidden messages. Sometimes, it’s the hidden messages that elevate a good picture into something truly special! 

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Sabrina Gonzalez

If I'm happy, you should be too! I love seeing happiness going around!