God’s brainy entourage
Turns out Michelangelo, da Vinci, Van Gogh and company were even more brilliant than we’ve given them credit for.
There’s a scientific secret hiding in one of the most famous paintings of all time. It resides on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, as God gives Adam the first spark of life. The flowing reddish-brown cloak behind God and the angels is the exact same shape as a human brain.
Researchers have even been able to pick out certain parts, like the vertebral artery (represented by the angel right beneath God and his green scarf) and the pituitary gland. There are multiple theories as to why Michelangelo might have done this; one suggests that the brain represents God imparting divine knowledge to Adam. A more popular theory, however, suggests that Michelangelo painted the brain in a covert protest of the church’s rejection of science.
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How very un-angelic
An angel with attitude can also be spotted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The Pope who commissioned the work, Pope Julius II, was widely disliked – including by Michelangelo. The artist decided to take a subtle dig at his unpopular patron by painting the prophet Zechariah to look like him. One of the angels behind Zechariah/Julius is making an old-fashioned snarky hand gesture called “the fig” in his direction (for those of you interested in bringing it back, it looks a lot like “got your nose”).
Think that was insulting? Here are 16 of the most insulting compliments of all time.
The man in the mirror
Fifteenth-century artist Jan van Eyck couldn’t resist sneaking himself into his famous Arnolfini Portrait. In a not-so-secret act of self-promotion, van Eyck wrote “Jan van Eyck was here 1434” on the wall in Latin behind the two figures.
But far less noticeable are the other two figures in this painting. If you take a close look at the mirror on the wall, you’ll be able to spot two people who appear to be standing about where the “viewer” of this scene would be. It is widely believed that the one with his hand raised is supposed to be van Eyck.