As you may or may not know, I am somewhat of a connoisseur of the arts. So I thought what better way to combine my great passion for the paranormal and discuss with you a collection of supposedly haunted paintings!
I’m a genius, I know.
So without further ado, let’s begin our guided tour of some of the worlds spookiest pieces of art.
The Curse of The Crying Boy – Giovanni Bragolin
Among the most famous of haunted paintings, The Crying Boy is actually one of a small series of works by Giovanni Bragolin, who seemed to enjoy making small children cry. For some bizarre reason, decorating your home with images of weeping children became the “in thing” and the prints were mass produced from the 1950s.
Fast forward to September 1985, and The Sun Newspaper published an article by a supposed Essex firefighter attesting to the unnatural frequency of these paintings being found undamaged after house fires.
As my fellow Britains will know, The Sun is renowned for their sensationalist headlines – including, but not limited to, “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster” – and as such, the authenticity of these claims should be taken with more than a pinch of salt. That being said, the rumour grew into a fully fledged urban legend, which supposed the spirit of one of the painting’s modals, Don Bonillo (AKA “Diablo”, apparently) had the nasty habit of setting fires, which left him orphaned and eventually, dead. This included a fire in the painter’s studio, of course. As a result, any who hangs a copy of The Crying Boy series in their home will find it burnt to the ground, while the painting remains unscathed.
By November 1985, The Sun encouraged its anxious readers to send in their copies of the painting, and organised a ritual burning to break the curse.
As much as I love a good curse, we can dampen the fires of The Crying Boy with a little bit of common sense. The varnish used to finish the prints contains fire retardant properties, and when combined with the picture hanging string burning through, the picture will likely fall face down on the floor and thus be protected from fire.
That being said, I recently encountered the opportunity to buy an original copy of The Crying Boy at an antique flea market. Call me superstitions, but I declined.
The Hands Resist Him – Bill Stoneham
The subject of surrealist piece by artist, Bill Stoneham, is enough to make anyone uneasy. Depicting a young boy – a portrait of the artist as a child – and a life-sized doll girl in front of a pane of glass with ghostly hands pressed against it, the work was supposed to represent the divid between fantasy and reality, and how the possibility of other lives effect our own experience.
The painting came to prominence after it was listed on eBay with the claims of the subjects moving during the night, sometimes leaving the painting entirely and roaming the room it sits in. The owners children were said to be terrified of it, claiming the girl character was holding a gun to force the little boy out of the image. To be honest, the wired capsule she holds does look a little like a gun, with the wooden window pain as the barrel.
Regardless, the lister claimed the photo would trigger a motion camera set up to observe it, and they wanted it gone from their home as soon as possible. Of course, the listing went viral, and an internet legend was born.
It’s said that just viewing the painting online can cause nausea and the sensation of being watched.
The painting is said to currently resided in a back room at Smith’s Perception Fine Art Gallery in Michigan, where it is kept away from public display. A brave move, as a former owner, gallery curator, art critic all died within a year of coming into contact with the painting.
The Anguished Man – Artist Unknown
Possibly the most modern painting on this list, The Anguished Man, is said to contain the spirit of, well, an anguished man. The current owner claims to have inherited it from his Grandmother, who claims the anonymous artist mixed his own blood into the painting, before, sadly, committing suicide. Since inheriting the painting, the owners claim to have heard crying and moaning coming from the painting, as well as witnessing a spectral figure in the home where it’s displayed.
If the story of the unfortunate artist is true, it’s not much of a stretch for those of a paranormal mindset to believe a residual spiritual energy is responsible for the haunting. In my opinion, The Anguished Man, is the most visually disturbing painting on this list.
Man Proposes, God Disposes – Edwin Landseer
Inspired by the lost artic expedition of Sir John Franklin, Man Proposes, God Disposes, sits in the collection of Royal Holloway University, London and is probably my favourite painting on this list.
According to legend, a student sitting an exam beside the painting, proceeded to stab a pencil through their eye as a way to commit suicide. All he left behind was a scrawled note in his exam paper – “The polar bears made me do it”.
There is, of course, no evidence to support the story above, but from the 1960s, it was a common belief amongst students that whoever sat if front of the painting during an exam, would fail.
The fear is so wide spread, that the university now covers the painting with a union jack during exam season.
Come and talk weird art with me!
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