10 famous paintings, plots and characters of which today are interpreted incorrectly
You all misunderstood … The Cheju Museum of Optical Illusion.
There are many paintings in the world that, it would seem, are even known to art amateurs, but at the same time, even authoritative art historians interpret these paintings quite incorrectly. In this review, a dozen paintings in which their creators have put a deeper meaning than it might seem from the first (and sometimes even from the second) look.
1. Happy swing opportunities
This famous picture of the Rococo era was even shown in Disney’s Frozen. However, Fragonard clearly put a deeper meaning into his work than Disney. The picture shows a young woman who is rocked on a swing in a romantic garden by an elderly man. This man is clearly unaware of the presence of a young lover of a girl who is watching them from the bushes.
Not only does the young man look right under the woman’s dress, but all the action takes place against the background of rose bushes, which in the art of the Rococo era were a classic symbol of female sexuality. In addition, the young lover put his hat in the bushes. It may seem strange, but at that time a man’s hat was often used to hide an erection. Thus, the hat in the bushes is a rather egregious pun.
Another clue is the women’s shoe, which was dropped from the foot during the swing. For centuries, bare legs or ankles have been associated with sexual desires. Although “Swing” is an undeniably beautiful image, you should know its history before you start showing it in children’s cartoons.
2. Breakfast on the grass
Female nudity is quite common in classical art. But even at a time when risky artists dared to paint women in all their naked beauty, Manet’s work stood out from the rest. This masterpiece of impressionism depicts a picnic of two fully dressed men with a naked woman looking at the viewer (and in the background there is another fully dressed woman). The image was unique in this regard, since up until that moment, nudity usually depicted goddesses such as Venus or Aphrodite.
Manet painted an ordinary woman of easy virtue, and he sought to portray women not as immortal celestials, but as completely mortal and material creatures. But the picture was associated with the problem of rampant prostitution, which France faced at that time. When the painting was presented to the jury of the Paris Salon of 1863, it was met with ridicule and criticism. The Manet painting was rejected because its meaning was completely misinterpreted.
Very similar to Lunch on the Grass, Olympia Manet also portrays a naked prostitute, and so she immediately faced criticism and disgust from the art community. The woman on the canvas looks directly at the viewer in the most “shameless and sexy way”. Critics have chosen to completely ignore the real themes that Manet wanted to convey by drawing realistic Parisian scenes.
In fact, they were so obsessed with ignoring Mane’s intentions that they almost did not notice the presence of a black maid in the picture, which is believed in our time to create a contrast of light and darkness. But Manet simply could not convince modern society of his true intentions.
4. Persistence of memory
The “Persistence of Memory”, which is often called the “Melting Clock”, is a surreal picture, which is Dali’s most recognizable painting. Its popularity is so great that this picture was even shown in The Simpsons, and recently a number of companies have even begun to sell watches whose design was inspired by this picture. But, despite its popularity, the meaning of the work of Salvador Dali was misinterpreted by many art historians since its presentation in 1932.
Many believed that the soft, flowing pocket watch from the table was an idea of the fluidity and suppleness of the concept of time and space. This interpretation led to the conviction that Dali wanted to convey the Einstein theory of relativity. However, when asked why he decided to draw his famous watch, the artist replied that he was inspired by the image of Camembert cheese melting in the sun.
5. The abduction of the daughters of Leucippus
The following picture is noteworthy in that it was misinterpreted twice.