Would you believe us if we said this painting was revolutionary for its time? It’s true, but not in the way you might think. There were no new colors or paints used – it was instead the angle at which Leonardo Da Vinci painted this painting, “Lady with an Ermine.”
Most paintings at the time had the subject looking straight ahead, but Da Vinci had both this woman and her pet looking off to the side as if someone had just entered the room. This gives us room to determine the woman’s thoughts – in addition, she has a small, unknown smile on her face, just like Da Vinci’s much more famous “Mona Lisa.”
The Struggle for Independence
What appears to be a simple portrait of a military man turns out to mean much more once you know the backstory. Dutch master Rembrandt painted this subject in 1630, during which the Netherlands was waging a struggle for independence from Spain.
The rich details show off a contrast of materials, such as the cloth, the feather, and the shiny metal gorget. There’s even more to this painting: underneath the aging military man is a picture of a young man wearing a green cloak, healthy and full of life in stark comparison to the aging warrior Rembrandt painted over him.
A True Love Story
Among the Bible’s many notable tales, Ruth and Boaz stand out. Told in the book of Ruth, it follows the Moabitess Ruth, who eventually marries the older Boaz, a man of upstanding character. French painter Frédéric Bazille drew this stirring scene in 1870. The story is one of true fealty, honor, and love, yet this painting shows us something a little different.
Ruth gazes pensively at the moon despite the sleeping Boaz, who has yet to notice her. Ruth and Boaz were common subjects in the Paris art world at the time, though the painting may only be half-finished since Bazille soon went to war, where he would perish.
A Heavenly Departure
One of Rembrandt’s lesser-known paintings, “The Archangel Raphael Leaving Tobias’s Family,” is still an evocative piece. The family of Tobias has just found out that the traveler they met on the road was one of the archangels of Heaven, Raphael, and are reacting in shock, awe, and wonder.
Tobit, Tobias’s father, stays bowed, head pointed at the ground. His wife Anna averts her gaze from the glow while Tobias himself and his wife Sarah watch the angel depart in uncontained awe. You can see the small signature, as well as the year it was painted, in the lower left corner.
Captain Cook’s Secret
The theatrical scenery of William Hodges, who lived from 1744 to 1797, is second to none. He was the official artist of Captain Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific from 1772 to 1774. The painting pictured here, “View in Pickersgill Harbour, Dusky Bay, New Zealand,” is a bright and stirring scene of exploring a wilderness, but it hides something even more wild.
Underneath the remarkable painting might be an even more remarkable scene – Antarctica. Cook’s journey took them near the great icy continent, and it seems that Hodges had painted a rough scene of mounds of ice before painting over it. It’s like something from an H.P. Lovecraft story.