Whether it’s architecture, sculpture or painting, art leaves an indelible mark over the years . Their notoriety also goes beyond borders . The Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building… There are many works of art to be known. But do you really have everything on them?
We lift the lid on 22 mysteries that 90% of people don’t know about the most famous works of art .
1. The apartment on the top floor of the Eiffel Tower
Gustave Eiffel, is the architect of the Eiffel Tower. At his summit, he took care to provide an apartment for himself and his superior. He liked to meet there to receive his guests and rest , enjoying a breathtaking view. Thomas Edison had the privilege of exchanging a long discussion with Eiffel there. Everything is planned in this apartment to be able to live there: kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms and a living room . Today, it now serves as a museum, in which the wax statues of Thomas Edison and Gustave Eiffel in full discussion are installed there.
2.The chains on the feet of the Statue of Liberty
It was France that offered the Statue of Liberty to the United States, as a gift for the hundred years of the American Revolution . It is the symbol of freedom, democracy and the end of slavery. And that is exactly what the chains at the feet of the Statue represent . Have you ever noticed them?
3.Mona Lisa, better known as “The Mona Lisa”
This representation is so famous that many artists have tried their hand at the reproduction of Mona Lisa . Some think that there is another representation probably not born from Da Vinci’s brush, this one not being a copy. The second version seems to have been painted from a different angle, maybe even painted by another artist , or even several others. However, experts agree that this version predates that of Leonardo Da Vinci .
4. Mount Rushmore and its time capsule
Gutzon Borglum is the very talented architect of Mount Rushmore. He had the idea of creating a kind of memorial within the cliff itself . This would in fact be a secret room collecting all the information on the history of the United States and the archives of the country . Symbolically, it was at the back of Abraham Lincoln’s head that he dug a cavity. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete his ambitious project, death having brought him before. Nevertheless, as a tribute, in 1998, more than 50 years after his death, important archives and copies of documents concerning the various Presidents of the United States were placed there. It now serves as a “ time capsule ”.
5. The Matterhorn at Disneyland
It is the replica of the Matterhorn , a Swiss mountain located on the border with Italy. The Matterhorn at Disneyland is reputed to be the world’s first roller coaster attraction , consisting of a tubular metal structure. But in reality, this is not quite the case… At its summit, there is a kind of attic , accessible only to climbers and members of the park for safety reasons . It is also from here that the Tinker Bell leaves when it flies over the park. There is also a basketball court . Surprising? Not that much. Indeed, in California, any building over 25 m had to have a part reserved for sports practice.. On the other hand, a rest room also exists at the foot of the attraction for staff members.
6. The Sphynx as we know it is not its true representation
This is the oldest statue in the world (listed to date). Its sandy color is not a reflection of what the Great Sphinx of Giza was like at the time. Indeed, it had beautiful sparkling colors . Some residue still exists behind his ears. He also wore a false beard and obviously had a nose . The various British and Egyptian museums have taken possession of their remains found in the excavations. A theory put forward by certain specialists tends to say that this sphynx originally had a lion’s head with a human face : hence the disproportionate proportions between the body and the head.
7. The secrets of the Tower of Pisa
The most famous tower in Italy hides many secrets. Indeed, until now, nobody knows for example, who built his bell tower . The reason is simple: it was completed at the end of construction, 200 years later. Historians agree that Bonanno Pizano was the instigator, but the baptistery built close to the tower has the same style. And the latter is the work of Diotisalvi. The mystery remains!
8. The Face of Danaë by Rembrandt
Two years after his marriage to Saskia van Uylenburgh, Rembrandt began painting Danaë. If the artist very often represented his wife in his works, the mystery remains whole as to the fact that the resemblance is not so striking with Danaë . In addition, this painting is reminiscent of many works he had done later. The mystery was only recently lifted. Indeed, on X-rays , two faces of two different women are clearly visible. It would therefore seem that he took over the painting after the death of his wife , giving it the features of the other woman he coveted : Geertje Dircx. This is how Danaë is finally the portrait of thetwo women in his life .
9. The name of the most famous tourist attraction in Britain
In reality, ‘Big Ben’ only refers to the clock tower and not to the entire monument of the ‘British Houses of Parliament’. Until September 2012, the official name of the complete structure was ‘ The Bell Tower of the Palace of Westminster’, but since then its name has changed to ‘ The Elizabeth Tower ‘ ( The Elisabeth Tower) For the time being, no one knows exactly where the nickname ” Big Ben ” comes from, although some believe that it is the name of the powerful man who founded the foundry. of the bell , others believe that this nickname comes to him from Benjamin Count, a boxing championin the heavyweight category.
10. The color of the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate is one of the most photographed structures in the world . Its construction took a very long time, as it required an agreement with the United States Navy . Once permission to build was obtained, the Navy required that the bridge be painted black and striped yellow, so that it could be seen even in stormy and foggy weather. Luckily, Irving Morrow, the architect in charge of the project, managed to convince the navy that a dark orange paint would be just as effective, without distorting the landscape. This color makes it famous today.
11. The color of the sky in Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream”
The very first name given to this painting was “ The Scream of Nature ”. The artist explains that at one point the sky turned blood red . Exhausted, he saw like tongues of fire on the bluish-black fjord and he also saw a village. It would seem that what the painter actually saw was the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. The sky had indeed taken on a red color and black volcanic dust had invaded the sky. Blades of fire could be observed in the sky, all over the world.
It seems that Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh were even more brilliant than we thought: here are the masterpieces of painting revisited.
12. Paintings that leave you perplexed
It is not for nothing that the masterpieces of painting have inspired dozens of conspiracy theories and mystery stories. They’re so old that it’s impossible to ask the artists what they were thinking when they made them – that’s probably why our imagination tries to find hidden messages and symbols in them. Are you lacking inspiration?
And even if these artful – and sometimes subversive – details in well-known works of art are not at the level of The Da Vinci Code , they can open up new perspectives on these paintings.
13. God’s “brain” environment
A scientific secret is said to be hiding in one of the most famous paintings of all time. It is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, where we see God giving Adam the spark of life. The red-brown mantle that unfolds behind God and the angels is exactly the same shape as a human brain. The researchers even managed to distinguish certain parts like the vertebral artery – represented by the angel right under God and his green scarf – and the pituitary.
There are multiple theories as to why Michelangelo would have done this. One of them suggests that this brain represents God imparting divine knowledge to Adam. A more popular theory, however, suggests that Michelangelo painted the brain in thinly veiled protest at the church’s rejection of science.
14. Not very angelic!
A frankly rude angel can also be seen on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The pope who commissioned this work, Julius II, was not liked by everyone, including Michelangelo. The artist decided to subtly attack his unpopular patron by depicting the prophet Zechariah in the guise of the pope. One of the angels behind Zechariah/Julius makes a very ancient surly hand gesture, called “making the fig” (Far la ficca in Italian), in his direction. With us, we could compare that to a finger of honor.
PHAS/UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
15 The man in the mirror
Jan van Eyck, a famous 15th century painter, could not resist the temptation to slip into his famous portrait of the Arnolfini Spouses . In a not-so-discreet act of self-promotion, van Eyck wrote “Jan van Eyck was here in 1434” in Latin on the wall behind the two figures. But the two other characters in this painting are much less visible.
If you look closely at the mirror on the wall, you’ll be able to spot two people who appear to be standing roughly where “viewers” of this scene would be. It is generally accepted that van Eyck is the one with the raised hand.
ERIK STEHMANN/LORD LOU/REX SHUTTERSTOCK
16.The hidden companion of the Mona Lisa
The Da Vinci Code , very popular thriller, is speculative to say the least, which does not prevent Leonardo da Vinci from having hidden some secrets in the most famous of his works: The Mona Lisa . A true star of painting, it is the Louvre Museum‘s most visited work.
This enigmatic lady, for example, has the artist’s initials, LV, painted in her right eye, but they are microscopic. Even more surprisingly, in 2015, a French scientist using the ” Layer Amplifier Method ” ( LAM), reportedly found another portrait of a woman beneath the image we see today. It is now thought to have been an “early draft” that Leonardo da Vinci covered up by painting his masterpiece over it.
UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/UNIVERSAL IMAGESGROUP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
17.Botticelli the botanists
Most famous for his Birth of Venus , Botticelli had great botanical knowledge. In another of his famous paintings, Primavera , researchers found up to 500 different plant species, all painted with enough scientific precision to be identified.
UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
18.The musical breads of the Last Supper
It is said that Leonardo da Vinci’s other world-acclaimed masterpiece, The Last Supper , would give clues to all that was to come from the last days of Christ until the end of time. But there is another theory which, while not so ambitious, may well have some merit.
Italian musician Giovanni Maria Pala discovered what could very well be a small musical melody written in the painting. If you trace the five lines of a stave on the board, consider the hands of the apostles and the loaves on the table as musical notes, and finally read them from right to left (as Leonardo de Vinci), these musical notes form a mini melody of about forty seconds.
19.Hide this shoulder that we cannot see…
This woman dressed in a beautiful black satin dress, immortalized under the name of Madame X , is in fact Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, a Parisian socialite. Jon Singer Sargent, a 19th century painter, is said to have decided to paint a portrait of him in the hope of making himself known.
The painting did indeed make him famous… but not in a good way. In the original portrait, the right strap of Madame Gautreau’s dress hangs over her shoulder, which viewers at the time found absolutely scandalous. Sargent repainted the ramp in his place, but the damage was done and he had to decide to leave Paris. He eventually sold his canvas to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York , and so things went well for him.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of 25 must-see places in New York!
20.A skull lurks in the room
Can you find the skull hidden by Hans Holbein the Younger in his famous painting, The Ambassadors ? No need for a magnifying glass to find this one – it’s actually quite large. You do not believe me? That beige and black diagonal spot at the bottom of the painting becomes a skull if you look at the painting the right way. Look at the bottom right or left of the image and you will see the skull stand out clearly.
UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/UIG/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
21.The Last Supper reviewed and corrected by Van Gogh?
Vincent Van Gogh, the artist behind such masterpieces as The Starry Night and Self -Portrait , also painted the very colorful Café Terrace at Night . In reality, it may be much more than a simple representation of customers seated at a terrace. Many clues suggest that this painting would be a modern reinterpretation of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.
Van Gogh was indeed very religious, and his father was a pastor. Like The Last Supper , the image shows exactly 12 seated figures. They surround another, with long hair, who is standing in front of a window whose uprights form a cross.
ALFREDO DAGLI ORTI / REX / SHUTTERSTOCK
22.Drowning your sorrows in alcohol has never been so artistic
Caravaggio ‘s Bacchus (Roman god of wine) hides another work of art: a miniature self-portrait of the artist.
In 1922, an art restorer was cleaning this work dating from 1595 when, the dirt accumulated in the canvas for centuries having disappeared, he saw a hidden portrait of the artist appear. Inside the wine jug, in the lower left corner, a tiny Caravaggio sits in the tiny reflection of light on the surface of the wine.