10 Puzzling Art Mysteries

The more we learn about great art and its creators, the less we find out about them. Odd, I know; but, as someone would say, true story. Furthermore, some of these mysteries have puzzled people and scientists for a while now. I guess the longer it takes to clear things up, the more interested we are in that subject; it’s human nature.

Here are 10 puzzling such mysteries!

10. The Girl With The Pearl Earring | Puzzling Art Mysteries

The Girl With The Pearl Earring | Puzzling Art Mysteries

Despite all the theories and speculation, no one seems to know the identity of Johannes Vermeer’s girl in the famous 1665 painting Girl with a Pearl Earring. She is turned toward us with soft light glinting off her young face and a large pearl dangling from her ear. She looks as though she’s about to say something, but we have no idea what her story is. Was she Vermeer’s daughter? His lover? It’s possible she never existed in real life, but she still draws huge crowds everywhere her picture is exhibited.

9. Lightning Strikes Twice | Art Mysteries

Lightning Strikes Twice | Puzzling Art Mysteries

When restoring a masterpiece by Robert Reid, an early 20th-century American impressionist, art conservator Barry Bauman was amazed to find that Reid had concealed another painting under the one to be restored. This hidden painting, dubbed In the Garden, portrayed a young woman seated at a table outdoors who is reading while having tea. Many artists will paint over an existing piece, but Reid had stretched this second painting over the first finished one. No one can figure out why Reid did that, and he’s not alive to tell us.

8. The Love And Betrayal Of Wally Neuzil

The Love And Betrayal Of Wally Neuzil | Puzzling Art Mysteries

In the early 1900s, Walburga “Wally” Neuzil was the mysterious muse of Austrian painter Egon Schiele. She appeared in several of his paintings, including some erotic ones, was reputed to have been his lover, and took care of much of the business side of his painting. She appeared in the 1912 masterpiece Portrait of Wally, which was nicknamed the Viennese Mona Lisa for its mysterious smile. Although she was extremely loyal to him, Schiele abruptly dumped Neuzil in 1915 to marry a more respectable woman. It appeared the two lovers never saw each other again. Or did they?

7. David’s Secret Weapon | Art Mystery

David’s Secret Weapon | Puzzling Art Mysteries

Controversy surrounds the question of whether Michelangelo’s David was holding a secret weapon, a fustibal, in his excessively large right hand. A fustibal was a sling to hurl stones as far as 180 meters (600 ft). According to the Bible, David had his sling, five stones, and a shepherd’s staff with him when he fought Goliath. Only the sling is visible in Michelangelo’s sculpture from the early 1500s. But some scholars argue that the straps of the sling connect to an unidentified item in David’s hand, believed to be a handle for the staff which would function like a golf club.

6. The Jesus Statue With Real Teeth

The Jesus Statue With Real Teeth | Puzzling Art Mysteries

A 300-year-old statue of Jesus in a small Mexican town was accidentally discovered to have real human teeth with roots. No one knows where the teeth came from. In a religious tradition from earlier times, it was common for people to donate human body parts to their churches. Human hair or teeth carved from animal bones frequently adorned statues, but until now, no one had ever seen human teeth in a statue.

5. The Man Under The Woman Ironing

The Man Under The Woman Ironing | Puzzling Art Mysteries

Using an infrared camera, a second painting was discovered under Pablo Picasso’s prized 1904 painting Woman Ironing after an attempted robbery damaged the canvas. The second picture is an upside-down image of a man with a mustache. Scholars are haunted by questions of who the man was and whether Picasso painted him. They’ve ruled out a self-portrait of Picasso.

4. Study By Candlelight

Study By Candlelight | Puzzling Art Mysteries

The controversy with Study by Candlelight is whether it’s a real painting by Vincent Van Gogh or a forgery, as claimed by his nephew. It looks like a self-portrait of Van Gogh, but the lower third of the painting is unfinished and contains a strange Japanese kabuki character. The character was added in ink, not paint. There’s also a question of why French accent marks don’t appear on the inscription “Etude a la bougie,” which means “study by candlelight” in French.

3. The Missing Ballerina

The Missing Ballerina | Puzzling Art Mysteries

No one knows whether Edgar Dega’s painting of a ballerina, Dancer Making Points, was given away, thrown out, or stolen from wealthy heiress Huguette Clark’s apartment in the 1990s. But when it reappeared in the home of Henry Bloch, art collector and co-founder of H&R Block, Clark tried to stop the FBI from investigating by saying that she valued her privacy. Although she never declared the painting to be stolen, a legal battle ensued between Clark and Bloch.

2. The Connecticut Connection To The Gardner Heist

The Connecticut Connection To The Gardner Heist | Puzzling Art Mysteries

In 1990, the world’s greatest art heist occurred at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Paintings by Edgar Degas, Rembrandt, and Jan Vermeer were among the almost $500 million worth of masterpieces stolen by two men pretending to be policemen. No one ever found out for sure what happened to the paintings or who pulled the job.

1. The Other Mona Lisas

The Other Mona Lisas | Puzzling Art Mysteries

Many people believe there’s only one Mona Lisa, the famous one at the Louvre in Paris. However, a second Mona Lisa sits in the Prado Museum in Madrid that may have been painted by da Vinci or one of his students simultaneously with the first. This second painting has a slightly different perspective, which can create a 3–D effect when viewed with the original Mona Lisa. Experts disagree on whether the two paintings were created simultaneously and whether this 3–D effect was meant to occur or just happened accidentally.

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