7 Mind-Blowing Easter Eggs Hidden in Famous Works of Art
Sure, if you look hard enough you're going to see bestiality, orgies and freakishly small penises in EVERYTHING.
But in the case of classic works of art, you're often right. Yes, as much as we mock Dan Brown around here, the one thing he's right about is that old-school artists like Michelangelo and Da Vinci loved to plant little "Easter Eggs" in their work, often things that would never have made it past the censors.
The Floating Brain God
Michelangelo's ode to the Book of Genesis, The Creation of Adam, has endured not only as the most famous of the Sistine Chapel panels, but also one of the single most iconic images of humanity.
Note how Adam's pose mimics God's, how mankind is framed off from the Heavens by earth and mountains, and how God and his entourage are rolling around in a gigantic, floating brain.
Wait, What the Hell?
Look closely. It turns out that the figures of God, His angels and even the soon-to-be-created Eve under His arm form a nearly perfect cross-section of the human brain.
While some might dismiss this as a coincidence, experts suggest that it would be harder to explain that this was not Michelangelo's intention. Even complex components within the brain, such as the cerebellum, optic chiasm and pituitary gland can all be found in the picture. As for that sassy green sash running down the pons/spinal column/dude-holding-God-up, it follows the path of the vertebral artery perfectly.
Along with drawing, painting, sculpting, St. Peter's Basilica building and generally being among the universe's top bananas, Michelangelo counted cadaver dissecting as a favorite way to pass the time. He was so mad about corpse-cutting, in fact, that a friend once presented him with a perfectly formed dead Moor as a gift.
According to historians, after receiving it his expression looked exactly like this.
So why would this immensely talented genius stick the actual shape of the human brain in the middle of what he had to know was a pretty major work? Was he cleverly suggesting that God was bestowing Adam with divine knowledge? Or was Michelangelo literally saying God was created inside the human brain? It would have been a pretty ballsy message to send while painting the Pope's house for him. Although, since body dismemberment wasn't a hugely popular hobby at the time, he probably knew this one would stay quiet for a while. Basically, it comes down to how big a dick Michelangelo was. Speaking of which ...
Michelangelo was such a sneaky pimp that this list could have been written on his clandestine hijinks alone. Like Mr. T, his David is as much a triumph of human endeavor as it is an anatomical phenomenon. The precision of the human body captured by Michelangelo has been described as nothing short of spectacular.
Note the exaggerated head and pulsing veins on the dorsum of the hands, engorged with tension. Admire the curve of the taut torso, the flexing of the thigh muscles in the right leg and the prominence of the subject's heroic pen...
Wait, What the Hell?
That's one disproportionately teeny wiener.
David's junk, which Italians affectionately refer to as his pisello, has become a bit of a running gag for the past 500 years. The statue towers over its audience at 13-feet of perfection, yet his five-inch wang (rounding up) puts him on the shorter end of the stick ... stick.
But a group of doctors have recently come in defense of the statue's tiny member. When viewed from a high angle--the view Michelangelo would have had as he chiseled away in his workshop--David has a stressed look on his face that's invisible from the ground level.
"Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap."
He isn't just simply striking a pose; David is facing his opponent Goliath, the Jew-baiting GIANT. Researchers made a computerized scan of the sculpture as part of their study, and found that every minute, anatomical detail shows a guy scared out of his mind, but ready to pounce like a naked-assed Tyler Durden.
Their diagnosis: The dude's weasel isn't just hilariously tiny, it's running for cover. Which physiologically speaking, is normal penis behavior when the owner of said penis is on the verge of fighting a giant.
After victory is another story.
But since nobody from the ground level could see David's knitted, worrywart brow, everyone just assumed Michelangelo was being a wiseguy. Which would make sense, because dick jokes were as common in Renaissance Florence as they are at Cracked. What doesn't make sense is why Michelangelo left David's Hebrew wang uncircumcised. But that's the subject for next week's article, "The X Most Intriguing Questions Raised by These Close-Up Pictures of Dongs."
A Secret Soundtrack
All right, this is just weird as hell.
Michelangelo wasn't the only one having his sweet, sticky way with art during the Renaissance. But it really takes another genius of Michelangelo's caliber to up the sneaky ante to the next level. Enter Leonardo da Vinci.
No, he didn't pass on the secret history of the offspring of Christ through cryptograms or backwards crossword puzzle word searches or whatever. He just embedded a secret soundtrack into The Last Supper.
Wait, What the Hell?
Those tasty dinner rolls scattered in The Last Supper may be the notes of a musical arrangement.
Actually, not just the bread, but the hands of Christ and the Apostles as well. One musician found that by drawing a five line musical staff across the painting, the hands and buns seem to line up as the notes of a pretty little composition. This is assuming, of course, that the notes are read from right to left, which was how da Vinci wrote. Don't believe us? Give this a listen.
Suck it, Dan Brown.
Even skeptics have acknowledged that the composition's harmony is too perfect to be a coincidence. Da Vinci was, after all, the full-on Renaissance Man embodied, and one of his many, many, many gifts was that of music.
But the madness doesn't just stop with the notes. The same guy who discovered the music also claimed the painting held clues to the rhythm of the song and the duration of each note. So, technically, the first album containing a secret message when played backwards was The Last Supper. How does that egg on your face feel, TIPPER GORE?
And you thought The White Album was clever.
Spot the Ass Shenanigans
Despite many breakthroughs in art, architecture and philosophy, shit was still pretty real in Renaissance Europe. Even if you managed to survive your infancy, dodge the Black Plague, famine and the general hazards of going through life with your neighbor's feces getting dumped into your drinking water, you'd still probably be dead by age 35. It's no wonder so many Renaissance artists said, "Fuck it" and just painted Jesus and his mom.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, however, wasn't having that cherub painting bullshit. This joker painted hardcore peasant life. And he didn't just paint a couple of people hanging out being all "medievally": he used his art to convey some pretty nasty butt-centered frolicking.
Wait, What the Hell?
Look close enough and you'll see a whole lot of ass.
Wait for it...
In Netherlandish Proverbs, Mr. Elder marries the frivolity of Where's Waldo with the batshit crazy of Salvador Dali by painting hundreds of literal interpretations of Netherlandish proverbs, which sounds boring until you realize how many of them were ass-based. The fact that they built whole proverbs around butts and all that they contain places the Dutch just behind the Asstecs in the Cracked Scale of Awesome Real or Made-up Nations poll.
So Bruegel took these phrases and painted them, and his audience would have immediately got the jokes. But they're lost on us because we don't often say things like:
"They both shit through the same hole."
Which means "They are in agreement." Obviously.
"To fall from the ox onto the ass."
Interpretation: to fall on hard times. Cute, but not as clever as:
"To shit on the world."
Which means exactly what it sounds like: To hate everything. But you know what you should do if you really hate everything? This:
"To wipe one's ass on the door."
At least that's what we do when we want to treat something lightly. Wipe our poop on it.
Flipping Off the Pope
When you think of the Sistine Chapel, you probably think of the Creation of Adam and God zapping Adam to life with his finger, but it's actually only one image among hundreds. Over four years, Michelangelo and company painted a crapload of cherubs and prophets and one drunk, naked Biblical hero.
And to honor his patron, Pope Julius II, Michelangelo cleverly stuck his sexy mug on the body of the prophet Zechariah. Which was a very sweet thing to do unless you get a close look at those angels chilling behind him.
Wait, What the Hell?
That sweet tiny baby angel is telling the Pope to fuck off.
What that precious little baby is doing with his finger is called "the fig" and its meaning is not nearly as adorable as the fat-faced baby doing it. By sticking his thumb in between his index and middle fingers, he's making an old world gesture that essentially means "fuck you." And he's making it at the Pope.
It turns out that Pope Julius II, aka "the Warrior Pope," was such an asshole that he was openly referred to as Il Papa Terribile. Michelangelo chose to seal his fate by personally flicking him off in God's house high above countless priests, cardinals and tourists for eternity. The beauty of the gesture was that medieval soot and the actual height of the painting prevented anyone from seeing it.
Not only that, but three decades after finishing the ceiling, Michelangelo was invited back to paint the wall behind the altar. This time he didn't mess around with mandy-pandy thumb gestures. Oh no. This time he straight painted the mouth of Hell directly behind the Pope's chair.
Either the mouth of Hell or mouth of the Goonie cave. Probably Hell.
Besides being the quintessential study in rock hard Baby Jesus abs...
...Domenico Ghirlandaio's Madonna with Saint Giovannino also features an interesting little blob hovering in the sky over Mary's left shoulder. Especially when you notice the figure in the background, kind up gawking up at it.
Wait, What the Hell?
Some Renaissance paintings totally have UFOs in them.
Domenico Ghirlandaio's Madonna with Saint Giovannino is just one of several medieval paintings with strange, kinda creepy-looking unidentified flying objects soaring around in them. And this particular one has had UFO enthusiasts salivating for years.
Never mind that one expert nay says and poo-poos and claims the images are consistent with early Christian iconography intended to represent the so-called "Holy Spirit." He wasn't there. And anyway, since when would the Holy Spirit take the form of a squat little gold man space traveling in a flying arrow?
Since never. That's when.
Or a flying bowler hat?
Maybe when he's feeling dapper?
And then there are the cases of people actually illustrating stuff they claimed they saw. In one woodcut, Swiss citizens jauntily witness black spheres hovering in the sky. The dots were said to turn red before vanishing.
Or someone just attacked this woodcut with a medieval hole-punch.
Then you have the illustration below, a detail from a woodcut of a mass UFO sighting in Nuremberg, Germany in 1561. The story was that on the morning of April 14, geometric shapes erupted from the sky to do battle with each other.
Although it's hard to take this illustration seriously when the sun has a face.
Science has been quick to dismiss these events as aurora borealis, but since the people witnessing them had no idea what the fuck NASA was, Hans Glaser's engraving of Nuremberg came to be known as a "star-battle" (which may explain why the lowest of the spaceships looks a lot like the Super Star Destroyer Executor).
PORN! PORN! PORN!
Much of the art made during the Italian Renaissance was specifically commissioned by the Catholic Church, to adorn the walls of Catholic cathedrals, for the everlasting edification of Catholic God lovers. And up until the mid-1500s, the Catholic church was pretty cool with artists getting a free hand on their walls.
Sometimes "free hand" meant tastefully rendered imaginings of the heroes of the Bible. And sometimes "free hand" meant, literally, having a free hand to masturbate with after viewing said pictures.
Wait, What the Hell?
Renaissance artists often used their art to get their freak on.
At least until the Counter-Reformation, when church put the kibosh on the flagrant display of holy genitalia and hired a loincloth painter to cover the most offending penis action. Such as the scene above, from Michelangelo's (AGAIN) Last Judgment. Prior to the cover-up, Mr. Red Robe back there was full-on naked, and looking down at St. Lady Gun's badonkadonk, who was also naked. And considering her bent over posture, it totally looked like he was getting some from the backside.
But the Catholic Church wasn't the only game in town, and plenty of other Renaissance artists used their prodigious talents to prove it. Once these guys were out in the secular world, things started getting explicit. Such as:
Snakey guy on girl...
Girl on girl...
You'd think that's piss until you notice that curators catalog it under "Ejaculating." If you are one of those people who never really appreciated old-time artwork before now, we beg you: look at the expression on that horse's face. Who among us hasn't worn that very expression, in that very situation?
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And check out some terrifying moments hiding in children's films, in 7 Horrifying Moments from Classic Kids Movies. Or find out about some easter eggs in your own body, in 5 Superpowers You Didn't Know Your Body Was Hiding From You.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 1.22.2010) to see if you can find the easter-boobs hidden on the Internet.