“The Creation of Adam” is perhaps the most well-known part of the fresco that Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but even after all these years, this famous piece of artwork still has some mystery around it. Who are the people hovering with God?
The female figure under God’s arm is usually accepted to be Eve, but it’s possible the intention could have been Mary, the mother of Jesus, or Sophia, the personification of Wisdom. The rest of the figures are most likely supposed to simply be the souls of Adam and Eve’s unborn progeny (i.e., the entire human race).
Made up of Dots
As the father of pointillism, Georges Seurat was a master of making small colored dots blend together into one beautiful image. In this painting, “Young Woman Powdering Herself,” for greater contrast, he placed competing colors like orange and blue next to each other, creating a scene full of energy, even if we can’t pick up on why.
The woman was Seurat’s mistress, giving the scene a personal connection. The size of the frame and vase of flowers leads some historians to believe it was used to paint over something Seurat wanted to remove, and it’s true. Underneath the frame and vase is a self-portrait discovered using recent technology. It’s the painter’s only known self-portrait.
Terrified of Goliath
No doubt you’ve at least seen an image of Michelangelo’s “David,” but have you ever really looked at the face? We get it, there are lots of other things to look at. Still, the face tells us a few specific things. This astounding, fourteen-foot marble statue depicts David glancing up, brows furrowed, stepping back as if he faces a terrifying threat.
Now, what famous Biblical story has David going up against a terrifying enemy? Yes, it’s all too possible that this statue depicts David just before fighting Goliath. He seems to be a bit worried, and who can blame him?
Hiding a Peasant Woman
Vincent van Gogh’s 1887 painting, “Patch of Grass,” doesn’t look like it has too much to offer in the way of mysteries, but you’d be surprised. It might not have unsolvable questions, but it does contain a surprising hidden secret. Underneath the painting of grass was a painting of a simple peasant woman, as revealed by an x-ray technique (fluorescence spectroscopy).
Nothing is known about the woman in question, of course, but it’s thought that the portrait was one of a series of similar paintings from van Gogh that he did during 1884 and ‘85 while staying in the Dutch village Nuenen.
Too Many Facts to Put Here
“The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch is a complex, intricate, and detailed triptych depicting paradise with Adam and Eve, the garden itself, and Hell. There is a lot to talk about here, but we’ll focus on the strange piece of music that... seems to be tattooed on a person’s bottom.
The huge instruments surrounding this sight from Hell represent the flawed human justice system that could never equal divine justice. Music from the hellish judge, thinking he is God, is being transcribed on flesh as a form of punishment. Amazingly, someone was able to recreate the music: “The Music Written on This Dude’s Butt.”