The last supper

The Hidden Secrets Behind Some of the Most Famous Paintings in Art History

Art Collection by Famous Artists

A little about the most popular paintings in the world by the most famous artists in history. These styles include Modern, Expressionism, Fantasy, Graffiti, and Photorealism. Art is not only a source of inspiration, but it is also a great mystery. Artists often add some small and unique details to their paintings that are impossible to notice at first glance. Indeed, some famous artists intentionally added secret messages to some of these paintings, whether to challenge the audience to figure out the message or to reveal something about themselves through their paintings.

The Chocolate Girl

This beautiful painting of a chocolate-serving maid is by Jean-Etienne Liotard and is stored today in the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) in Germany. Liotard was born in Geneva, Switzerland on 22 December 1702. He learned his artistic skills in his birthplace. He painted The Chocolate Girl between 1743 and 1745. The girl in the painting is carrying a tray with a hot chocolate cup and a glass of water. The girl’s apron features a small bodice. The illustration indicated the wholesome effect of chocolate milk. In 1862, the American Baker’s Chocolate Company obtained the rights to use the painting. However, during World War II, the Germans transported it to Königstein Fortress. The delicate painting managed to survive the cold and dampness after the Germans retreated from advancing Soviet troops.

A girl is holding a tray with a hot chocolate and a glass of water.
Image from: Decore to Adore 

The Famous Painting Primavera Love and the Gods

This artwork is by Sandro Botticelli and it was painted between 1477 and 1482 in Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Sandro Botticelli was born in 1445 in Florence, Italy. His original name is Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi. Botticelli was one of the most successful painters in Florence. His famous painting “Primavera Love and the Gods” is located in the Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy. Sandro Botticelli painted this painting to celebrate Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de the Medici’s marriage in 1482. The painting also celebrates the arrival of spring. The primary source for the picture comes from a poem, “De Rerum Natura”, by the classical poet and philosopher Lucretius. The painting also represents the feminine virtues of chastity, beauty, and love. The god of love Venus with two other gods, one on her left and one on her right, and her son beyond her.

The artist was able to hide many secrets and symbols in this painting. For example, if we look closely, we will find more than 500 types of real plants in the background. There is also something more cryptic than the beautiful women, the mythical gods, and plants in the painting. Some believe that it painting contains evidence that symbolized a plot against the Medici family who were ruling the country at that time and the family asked Botticelli to paint this painting for them.

 The god of love Venus with two other gods, one on her left and one on her right. Also, her son is above her..
Image from: Lady K flow 

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

The famous painting Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion was painted in 1944 by an Irish-born British artist Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon was born on 28 October 1909, in Dublin, Ireland and he died on 28 April 1992, in Madrid, Spain. Francis Bacon painted the Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion in 1944 and that was a turning point for Bacon’s art. This work has met wide criticism over its horrific imagery. Three eyeless monsters screaming with their bodies stretched. The Art Factory explained the work of Bacon as follows: “The three figures were Bacon’s interpretation of the Furies; the three goddesses of vengeance (Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone) from Greek mythology”. This horrifying artwork is located at Tate Britain, in London.

Three eyeless monsters with terrible screams.
Image from: The Economist Newspaper Limited 2021

The Severed Heads

This is one of the most terrifying paintings by Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault in 1818. The painting is oil on canvas, and it’s located in Stockholm, in Sweden, at the National Museum. Théodore Géricault was born on 26 September 1791 in Rouen, France. He is one of the greatest painters of the 19th-century and his best-known painting is “The Raft of the Medusa”.

Géricault was one of the first great French artists, and the style is known as Romanticism. Over time, he overused romanticism in his paintings to criticize the monarchy. He used real parts of the human body to draw the heads of victims during torture with sad expressions on their faces. The painting includes a female with closed eyes and deathly white skin and a male’s head with open lifeless eyes.

A man's and a woman's heads are chopped and wrapped in white a piece of cloth.
Image from: Sartle 

Male and Female

This graffiti-looking painting was painted in the United States between 1942-1943, by Jackson Pollock. Jackson Pollock, who was born on 28 January 1912 in Cody, Wyoming, United States. The “Male and Female” painting can now be found in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in the United States. This colourful painting was added to Jackson Pollock’s stunning solo exhibition, at Art of This Century in November 1943. Both figures are standing on tiny triangular feet. The male figure is in the black columnar form on the right, with its mysterious arithmetic graffiti, and the female figure is on the left, with eyelashes and round breasts. These signifiers correspond to archetypes of the woman as sensual (nature) and the man as intellectual (culture).

a graffiti artwork that describes male and female
Image from: Totally History 


This artwork was originally owned by the notary Giuliano di Colino, but for some reason, the painting was left unfinished. Later on, the painting was completed by Filippino Lippi in the 1480s. Filippino Lippi was born on 15 April 1457 in Prato, Italy. Masaccio captures the anguish of Adam and Eve in his Expulsion from Paradise, from the Brancacci Chapel in Florence.

The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden depicts a distressed Adam and Eve, chased by an armed angel. Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden for eating from the tree of knowledge. After eating from the tree, “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). So, for this reason, Adam is covering his face to express his shame, and Eve is covering certain areas of her body. This painting is located in the Brancacci Chapel inside the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence, Italy.

Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Adam is covering his entire face to express his shame, while Eve's covering certain areas of her body..
Image from: Wikimedia Commons 

The Creation of Adam

This is one of the most popular paintings in the history of art; painted by Michelangelo around 1508-1512. Michelangelo was an Italian artist born in Caprese Michelangelo, Italy on the 6th of March 1475. In his famous painting the creation of Adam, he added some secret messages which contain a hidden symbol that looks like a shape of a brain outlined by God’s billowing shroud.

From some people’s perspective, the meaning behind this painting is that the right arm of God is outstretched to touch the left arm of Adam, reminding us that a man is created in the image and likeness of God. On the other hand, this might have some scientific meanings to it. Many people think of the brain as a mystery. Michelangelo made the outline of God formed after a human brain, which can give an idea of how intelligence can make humans capable of anything. However, this painting is located in The Getty Museum in the United States.

The Creation of Adam
Image from: Michelangelo 

Masks Confronting Death

This artwork, which is a group of masked figures representing Death, was painted in 1888 by a Belgian painter and printmaker, James Ensor. James Ensor was born on 13 April 1860 in Ostend, Belgium. This painting from that time has both Symbolist and Realist aspects. James Ensor used masks in this painting to reveal the underside of society. The masked figures are scarier than the figure of Death itself at the centre of the painting. This can be a message telling the audience that some people in society are evil and maybe worse than the devil. In other words, the figures in the artwork are wearing masks, hats, and blue glasses which can represent humankind, with its weaknesses and cruelties. The painting is located at The Museum of Modern Art “MoMA”, in the United States.

People wearing masks Confronting Death
Image from: The Ekphrastic Review by Max Lemus

The Last Supper

The last supper by Leonardo da Vinci was painted around 1495–1498 for the Dominican monastery Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan. This painting has many secrets behind it. When Leonardo da Vinci showed The Last Supper to the world for the first time in 1499, it caused a wave of enthusiasm that crossed the borders of Italy and changed the world of art forever. Various people interpreted Da Vinci’s Last Supper in different ways and some claim that the two saints standing on the right side of Christ are Saint Thomas, and the other is Leonardo da Vinci, who placed himself in the painting as well. Many believed that Da Vinci didn’t believe in God, he believed in nature.

Leonardo da Vinci was a religious person, but some claim that he practised his faith according to how he understood the Holy Scriptures. A Vatican Archives’ worker, Sabrina Sforza Galizia, deduced that da Vinci left us a message behind his painting The Last Supper. She claimed that she figured out some codes in the painting that da Vinci foresaw the end of the world through his painting. Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is located on the walls of the dining room of the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazie.

Jesus Christ sitting on the dinner table with his disciples.
Image from: Singular 

Mona Lisa 

Of course, we all know this famous painting of the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci was born on 15 April 1452 in Anchiano, Italy. His famous painting of the Mona Lisa was painted sometime between 1503 and 1519, and it’s kept today in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. However, Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, is the famous merchant’s wife, Francesco del Giocondo.

The Mona Lisa was originally a type of portrait painting with a landscape backdrop, and over time its meaning has shifted, and it has become the most recognized painting in the world. Some people have interpreted this painting in different ways. For instance, according to a Maryland art expert and a dentist, Joseph Borkowski, Mona Lisa had a toothless Smile in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting. Borkowski’s analysis revealed some signs of scar tissue around Mona Lisa’s mouth, and he claimed that she was not smiling, but instead, she might have lost her front teeth.

A woman in a half-body portrait on a landscape backdrop.
Image from: Tech Explorist 

The Old Guitarist

This painting is by Pablo Picasso. He painted this painting around 1903–1904. Pablo Picasso was born on 25 October 1881 in Málaga, Spain. He became known after his work The Old Guitarist in 1903. He painted this famous painting in blue tones to evoke the melancholy world of the poor. However, if we look closely at the painting, we will notice that there is a hidden silhouette of a man’s head inside the painting.

After subjecting the painting to infrared light and X-rays, researchers from the Art Institute of Chicago found a group of other shapes hiding in the background of the original painting by Pablo Picasso, “The Old Guitarist”. They attribute the reason for this to the fact that Picasso did not have enough money at some point in his life to buy new paintings, so he used to paint on his old ones, which he deemed to be of no value.

 Elderly man playing the guitar on the ground.
Image from: The Art Institute of Chicago

The lighting in these famous paintings is marvellous.

The lighting style in the three paintings makes them look like photographs and not paintings. The use of lighting in all the paintings focuses on the subjects. The artists used the above and the concentrated lighting style in these paintings.

Dead Christ

This painting is by Gregorio Fernández; painted somewhere between 1625–1630. Gregorio Fernández was born on April 1576 in Sarria, Spain. Fernández shows Jesus laying down for the washing and the preparation of his body for burial. Fernández used concentrated lighting from above, which looks too close to Jesus’ body. The strong light created a harsh shadow on the red wall behind Jesus.

Jesus laid out for the washing and preparation of his body for burial.
XJL187581 The Dead Christ (polychrome wood) by Fernandez, Gregorio (1576-1636)
polychrome wood
Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid, Spain
Spanish, out of copyright


This is one of the most famous paintings, painted in 1580 by El Greco. El Greco was born on the 1st of October 1541 in Heraklion, Greece. In his painting, a boy is lighting a candle in the company of an Ape and a Fool (Fábula). El Greco used oil on canvas, and he used a direct lighting style that focused on the boy’s face, which gives an idea of a boy lighting a candle. The light also touches Ape’s face and one side of the man’s face. The painting is located in Prado, Madrid.

A boy lighting a Candle in the Company of an Ape and a Fool.
Image from: National Galleries Scotland 

A Lady in a Fur Wrap

This famous painting by Alonso Sánchez Coello in 1838. Alonso Sánchez Coello was born in 1532 in Benifairó de Les Valls, Spain. A portrait of a lady on a dark background. Alonso Sánchez Coello used oil on canvas and a direct lighting style that focused on the lady’s face and her right hand. The painting is located at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

A lady with a scarf on and fur on her shoulders
Image from: Glasgow Museums

Artists follow some great techniques to hide symbols that could represent entirely different meanings in their paintings. Researchers, on the other hand, use modern techniques such as X-rays to discover the mysterious clues left by these artists. Viewers must now have a clear understanding of the secrets behind some famous paintings.

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