We tend to think of classic art as being all dignified and serious, if perhaps a little stuffy. But that's only because we're not looking closely enough. As we've pointed out before, a lot of classical art is like a "Where's Waldo?" picture, but with more bare breasts and less mockery from your peers if they catch you puzzling over it.
The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger is an enigmatic masterpiece loaded with enough strategic placements and hidden meanings to frustrate Stanley Kubrick. The portrait is a masterwork of perspective study, delving so deeply into the subject that it seemingly contains the 16th century equivalent of a Photoshop error.
Shoulder poofiness = 300%
The Easter Egg:
But that's actually a nifty trick called anamorphosis. Why, all you have to do is turn the picture sideways ...
And boom! Holo-skull.
See? This 3-D bullshit has been going on for centuries.
The whole thing was Holbein's elaborate way of illustrating that no matter what, everybody dies. But considering that this crazy pseudo-hologram was painted by hand all the way back in 1533, we're assuming that maxim didn't apply to Holbein himself, who just hopped onto his hover-farthing and warped back to his home dimension when his time was up.
6Raphael's The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raffaello is perhaps the single most iconic image of the High Renaissance that is also the cover of Use Your Illusion I and II.
Coincidentally, the Renaissance was also when Chinese Democracy was first announced.
The Easter Egg:
While we could spend all day talking about the cameos Raphael slipped into the fresco ...
That's Socrates, all four of the ninja turtles and many, many others. It's like the Ocean's 11 of paintings.
... they're nothing compared to the Easter Egg Renaissance master Donato Bramante contributed to the project. According to Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Raphael had Bramante design "the architecture" for the fresco and, sure enough, Bramante's contribution was a carbon copy of the floor plans for the new St. Peter's Basilica he was working on just down the street. The School of Athens wound up offering a ground-level glimpse at the completed work more than a century before it would be finished.
It's a nice enough church, but the glare will literally melt your corneas.
Bramante already had the enormous cathedral completed in his head, and thanks to Raphael he was able to slip a sneak peak of the structure within the fresco, just like a Renaissance Pixar film. Well, if Pixar was slipping in references to movies that wouldn't be released until 2126, that is. We just feel bad for all the hardcore church fans out there who caught the teaser and got super stoked for this new blockbuster cathedral, only to see the release date and realize they'd be passing on those pre-ordered tickets to their grandkids.
Let us pray!
It was basically Duke Nukem Forever: The Church.