A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.

The Italian Masterpieces

They tell you at school that you can learn a lot from art. At university, they make entire majors out of it, and then for the rest of your life ‘high culture’ dictates that there is much to be gleaned from standing in front of a famous artwork. You might find the meaning of life, you might find appreciation of fruit that is still (thanks Cezanne), you might realise that before ‘Kimye’ it was actually Jesus and Mary who were the most popular celebrities of their day, (and the next 1800 years).

Wise people tell us wise things about art and the wise effects it will have on our lives. The inimitable Leonardo da Vinci believed that ‘a painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.’ Art is to be experienced, and as da Vinci explains, viewing a painting can single-handedly will bring us out of the dark and into the light, illuminating something we were yet to realise.

With this knowledge at the forefront of our minds, we cast a critical eye over the recent Winter Masterpieces exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Many of these paintings had never left the Museo Del Prado in Spain before, and were part of a collection of the Spanish Royal Court spanning three hundred years and featuring names that even Gen Z have heard of; Claude, Corregio, Poussin, Raphael and Michaelangelo (the painters, not the Ninja Turtles).

These are the life lessons we have learnt from these masters…

Lesson One: The Bible Left Out the Good Bits

So it turns out that Jesus was ripped. With the kind of physique that is limited these days to AFL Footballers and blokes who are on the Bachelor.

Jesus was also pretty fond of getting his beach muscles out for the girls, every painting of him has him standing around topless with just a bare piece of cotton covering his modesty while all of the onlookers are dressed like they’ve just stepped out of a 19th Century Dickens novel.

This little fact certainly explains what all the ‘Hallelujah Jesus’ is about…

Antonio Corregio - Noli Me Tangere c. 1525

Jesus has a Six-Pack

Lesson Two: Bible Fashions were a lot like reading Hello Magazine

For starters, Mary Magdalene was a blond. Lazarus was actually pretty handsome (for a tax-man) and Moses was getting around in the same gear that the Pope does now (it’s like the 80s coming back all over again.) Beards were in, Roman sandals were actually a thing (oh Jesus, you trendsetter you!) and just like a Miley Cyrus music video, clothing was optional.

Pietro Novelli - The Raising of Lazarus c1640

Beards are Sexy. So is Lazarus.

Lesson Three: Positive Body Image

Louise Hay would be having a field day in the 16th Century, because self-love, positive body image and curves were in. It seems before we all had way too much food to eat and McDonald’s delivered to your front door, it was actually a sign of wealth to be curvy and well-proportioned. Curves and love handles were in. Box gaps and bikini bridges were out. Apparently Meghan Trainor knows her stuff, women should aspire to have all the right junk in all the right places and men do like a little more booty to hold at night.

Francesco Albani - The Judgement of Paris

They’ve got all the right junk in all the right places. And yes, Paris has a sixpack too.


Lesson Four: Overacting is not a new thing

If you thought the actors on the Bold and the Beautiful were overdoing it, think again. It appears Ridge needs to visit more art exhibitions to lift his game.

Andrea Vaccaro - The Ascension of St Gennaro

Overacting for the Bold and the Beautiful, Bible Style.


Lesson Five: Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate was not the first time…

After years of wondering what exactly inspired Janet to lose a rather vital part of her catsuit that fateful night at the Superbowl, we finally have an answer. She’s just a really big fan of Renaissance art.

There is barely a single painting of a woman that doesn’t have a sneaky boob flash occurring. Forget the side-boob, cleavage or ‘whoops my strap has fallen down’, this is the full-frontal ‘oh look the whole top half of my dress has fallen off and I’m just flashing this painter. For the next twenty-three hours as he paints this still life scene’ situation.

Jacoppo Tintoretto - The Abduction of Helen c 1578

The Ancient Nipple Slip


Lesson Six: There will always be that one bloke…

Before they charged you $7300 to do a nudie run on the MCG, there were blokes stripping off and running around all of the paintings of the Renaissance for shits and giggles.

Jesus is being crucified? Time for a nudie run!

There’s a massive fight between the Romans in the Forum? Let’s do a nudie run!

We’re sacrificing a lamb for the Emperor? NUUUDDDIEEE RUN!

Giovanni Lanfranco - An augur sacrificing for a Roman emperor c1635

Nudie Run!


Lesson Seven: When in doubt…

Whether you’re completing your Year 7 Still Life Art homework, your child’s Grade 3 Fruitbowl painting assignment or you’ve begun adult art classes and need to paint a vase of flowers, if there’s a gap you need to fill – if in doubt, paint an onion.

Mario Nuzzi - Vases and Onions

Onions are the new Black. They go with everything darling.


Lesson Eight: #letmetakeaselfie is nothing new

Before Facebook. Before Snapchat. Before Instagram. Before the Internet. Before the 19th Century. There was this guy… #theoriginal

Livio Mehus - Genius of Painting c1650







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