Ever since Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code, the Internet has been awash with people trying to solve the “mysteries” of great art. From aliens in Renaissance paintings to countless conspiracies involving the Mona Lisa, there’s been no dumb stone left unturned.
But not all theories about a work’s meaning are so openly nuts. Some manage to be both completely convincing and utterly mind-blowing.
10. A Satyr Mourning Over A Nymph Actually Shows A Brutal Murder
Painted by Piero di Cosimo in 1495, A Satyr Mourning Over A Nymph supposedly depicts a scene from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In that story, Procris is accidentally killed in the woods when her hunter husband Cephalus mistakes her for a wild beast and hurls a spear through her. It’s a typical choice of scene for a Renaissance artist, with only one problem. A close examination proves there’s no way Cosimo’s Procris could have been killed by accident.
According to British professor Michael Baum, all signs point toward the scene depicting a brutal murder. Procris has deep lacerations around her hands consistent with someone trying to fend off a knife attack. Her left hand is also bent backward in a position known as “the waiter’s tip,” typically found in murder victims who have had their cervical cord severed at points C3 and C4. Finally, there’s a neck wound corresponding to the position of C3/C4. Rather than being a scene of romance, Cosimo’s painting shows the aftermath of a frenzied knife attack.
This probably wasn’t intentional. Professor Baum suspects Cosimo asked the local morgue to loan him a corpse for the painting and just happened to get a murder victim.