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Five Weird Conspiracy Theories About Famous Paintings

If you’ve watched – or read – The Da Vinci Code, then you’ll know all about the strange theories circulating Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper (and how it supposedly features Mary Magdalene instead of John, as traditionally assumed). What you may not know, however, is the how The Last Supper may quite possibly predict the end of the world, or perhaps the interesting theory behind Vincent Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night. Whatever the case, if you’re in the mood to speculate some weird and wonderful art-related theories with us, carry on reading.

1. Van Gogh Was Inspired By The Last Supper

Photo: Vincent Van Gogh, Public Domain

The Cafe Terrace at Night was always a pretty straight-forward piece of art… or was it? If you look closely at the figure representing Jesus (the waiter) standing among the (twelve) customers, you may notice a peculiar resemblance to The Last Supper. Towards the left side of the painting there is a person creeping away from the rest of the bunch, and researchers speculate that this could have been Judas.  Furthermore, around the time the painting was created, Van Gogh including some interesting details in a note to his brother, stating that he had a “tremendous need for, shall I say the word – for religion”. If you ask me, there are one too many clues scattered throughout this painting to be a mere coincidence. So did Van Gogh sneak some religious references into his art? We’ll never know for sure, but this is a start.

2. Leonardo Da Vinci Predicted The End Of The World

Photo: Leonardo Da Vinci, Public Domain

There are endless theories regarding The Last Supper painting, as I mentioned previously. Admittedly this one is one of the popular ones, but on the off-chance that you haven’t heard about it, it’s also the most interesting.

Sabrina Sforza Galitzia, a Vatican researcher, claims that the semi-circle/half moon window above Jesus contains clues to Da Vinci’s prediction of the end of the world. Although the public has no idea how she managed to come to this conclusion, Galitzia said she used a number of mathematical and astrological signs and symbols in her calculations.  If the prediction (and her calculations) are correct, then the world will end in the year 4006 during a massive flood. Allegedly Da Vinci saw the consequences of the flood as more of a new beginning for humanity that D-day (sort of like Noah’s Ark).

We won’t be around to update you on this theory and I still can’t imagine how Leo Da Vinci would have predicted the end of the world, but this is yet another prime example of the many mysteries in The Last Supper.

3. Nicolas Poussin Spilled The Beans

Photo: Nicolas Poussin, Public Domain

The painting above was finished by Nicolas Poussin in 1639 and is titled The Arcadian Shepherds. The three shepherds and the woman are depicted staring intently at the tomb. What exactly are they staring at, though? Well, the man crouching down and pointing to something towards the middle of the tomb is reading a Latin inscription that translates to “Even in Arcadia I exist”. It’s essential to point out that Arcadia was, in fact, an actual place in Greece often romanticized as paradise.

Any ordinary art student would interpret the painting as the somber message that something as tragic as death can exist anywhere, even in the perfect land of Arcadia. The authors behind the inspiration novels What inspiration novels? for The Da Vinci Code, however, believe something much different.

According to their theory, the original inscription (“Et in Arcadia Ego”) is an anagram for “I! Tego arcana Dei”, which in English means “Begone, I keep God’ secrets!”. Put two and two together and the conclusion drawn is that Nicolas Poussin knew the location of Jesus Christ’s tomb. Furthermore, the authors claim that they can trace the location back to a town in France called Les Pontils. If they are correct in their assumptions, then the truth would contradict the Biblical account of the situation, but anything is possible.

4. The Virgin Mary Is Actually… Mary Magdalene?

Photo: Michelangelo, Public Domain

Okay, so this one isn’t a painting at all, but the theory makes so much sense that I thought I’d explain this one anyway. If you’re an art student, you’ve probably studied the Pietà at some point during your schooling career (I know I had to!). Here’s the run-down: Pietà is a sculpture by Michelangelo depicting Mary cradling her son Jesus after the crucifixion. Essentially, the statue is supposed to represent the love of a mother for her son, and how that love overshadows everything else (notice how small Jesus is compared to Mary). Which, you know, is all good and well.

But what if the Virgin Mary in this sculpture was actually supposed to be Mary Magdalene? If you think about it, it’s not too hard to imagine. One of the strongest arguments to support this theory is that Mary looks too young to be the mother of a man that age.

Get this, though – a prototype of the Pietà was discovered back in 2010 and included in the work was a cupid. A small cupid, but a cupid nonetheless! It’s universal common knowledge that Cupid is the staple symbol of love so why on earth would Michelangelo decide to add him to the prototype if the statue was the Virgin Mary and Jesus?

5. Da Vinci Twinned With The Mona Lisa

Photo: Leonardo Da Vinci, Public Domain

The Mona Lisa is perhaps one of the most famous paintings in the world, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. There’s a conspiracy theory out on the world wide web that implies that The Mona Lisa is a self-portrait of Da Vinci… the only loophole is the simple question of why Da Vinci would want to paint himself as a woman.

Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage seems to find some value in this particular theory though, because they’re planning to dig up his skull and re-build his face. Even if the future digitally generated image of Da Vinci is spot on in comparison to The Mona Lisa, the theory will never be totally proven correct, because the one and only man who knows the truth is presently six feet under.

Although who’s to say that the original conspiracy theorists aren’t right?

Photo: Laurent de La Hyre, Public Domain

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Way too curious for her own good and obsessed with tea, good TV shows, mystery novels and cupcakes. If you want to find Yasti, she's probably holed up in her room trying to be productive.

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