Looking at this painting, we sit in awe of the technique and skill of Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer. This piece is called “Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window.” The painting seems to be a little more than exactly the title, but it turns out there’s something missing from the first picture.
A major restoration occurred in 2021, revealing a heretofore unseen element: a huge picture of Cupid on the wall behind the girl, as seen in the second picture, in addition to much brighter colors. Scholars see the presence of Cupid as evidence that the woman is reading a love letter.
One of His Early Works
Leonardo Da Vinci made tons of amazing pieces of art, but he didn’t finish everything he started. One of his early pieces, “Adoration of the Magi,” seems like it was made by someone else, but it still has touches of what would turn out to be genius. Let’s dive in.
The ruins in the back are said to be the Basilica of Maxentius, which the Romans claimed would stand until a virgin gave birth, and collapsed on the night Jesus was born. The palm tree in the center is associated with the Virgin Mary, but it can also simply represent triumph.
Are We in Control?
There sure is a lot to see in this painting by Diego Rivera, titled “Man Controller of the Universe.” It depicts a world understanding the turbulent times it is in, as well as what we as a species might find in both deep space and in the microscopic world.
Figures such as Communist leaders as well as famous capitalist John D. Rockefeller Jr. are present in the fresco. There is a hopeful feeling in the fresco despite the things depicted, where all the world is able to work together and find out how to best expand ourselves and our species.
A Bearded Man Is Watching You
One of the earliest pieces of work from Pablo Picasso’s blue period, “The Blue Room,” this painting seems to show us a young woman bathing in her tub, but there’s a little more to it than that. It turns out this picture also contains a peeper! Oh no! Thankfully, he can’t see anything past the layer of paint that is on top of him.
An x-ray study of the painting in 1997 revealed a painting underneath “The Blue Room,” and an infrared scan in 2008 revealed a bearded man wearing a bow tie, seated, with his right hand touching his cheek. Picasso, unable to sell his paintings, painted over them until they did.
It’s Time to Debate
Raphael’s “The School of Athens” takes us back to a time when bearded men in togas gathered in the square to be smart together. The composition naturally draws the eye to the men in the center – Plato and his student Aristotle, two of the most well-known philosophers and thinkers of all time.
Who else can we see? You can see Pythagoras (he has a famous theorem) in the lower left as he studies a large tome. Ptolemy and Raphael himself, looking directly at the viewer, can be seen on the right side, talking to Zoroaster, who is handling a globe.