Hidden Miniatures and Faces
in Renaissance and Impressionist Paintings

Svend Erik Hendriksen, an art researcher in Greenland, has discovered something new about the old masters. In his research, he has identfied numerous hidden images within the works of such artists as Cézanne, Gaugin and Titian. These hidden images include portraits, self-portraits and other images unrelated to the larger compositions. In one painting, he discovered that the clouds and sky are actually a map of a series of islands. Hendriksen theorizes that the purpose of these hidden objects is a form of copy protection. — Editor

By Svend Erik Hendriksen
Greenland Art Research (GLAR)

After 500 years of looking at some great paintings of the Renaissance, you would think everything in the composition would have been seen and analyzed. Hundreds of art critics, historians and connoisseurs examined these paintings and wrote books about them. Then Greenland Art Research came along, looked at them carefully and said "Oh, do you see this miniature image hidden here?" and "do you see this little face there?”

GLAR started this discovery of miniature figures in Italian Old Master pictures three years ago, but then we continued our research and discovered hidden images in French paintings of the late 1800 and early 1900. Now you have this phenomenon that museum curators and art historians everywhere are looking again at all these paintings, but this time with a magnifying glass. Basically, GLAR opened up a brand new field of painting investigation and analysis. These hidden miniature images could determine if a painting is authentic or not. Did some painters always include hidden miniature figures? Like a kind of secret signature? We don't know yet. This is what GLAR is researching now.

This discovery is the most surprising and the most exciting in many decades. Everybody was expecting a breakthrough in research with some algorithms-based computer digital analysis. Instead, the discovery came from Greenland Art Research looking at paintings better than nobody had looked at them before.

In June 2004 Greenland Art Research (GLAR) found a “face in a portrait” in "Flora" by Titian Vecellio 1515. Just a few weeks later a possible replica of “Flora” was discovered in Norway by an American art dealer in Mr. Raidar Osen’s private home in Bergen. Unfortunately for the owner, the “face” in the Norwegian painting was quite different from the origin painting by Titian. The copyist had an idea about what it was, but didn’t manage to paint the face accurately enough.

In the “Sacrifice of Isaac” Titian Vecellio painted a hidden blurred self-portrait in Abrahams red dress so masterly hidden that it took nearly 450 years to find it. When G. Vasari left Venice in 1545 the commission of three paintings was handed over to Titians workshop. The three paintings were designed and composed by Vasari I guess that Titian wanted to put his special “signature” on at least one of the three paintings, just to show the viewer who painted it, the Italian National painter himself.

During our research of another Australian owned Titian painting “Joseph and the wife of Potiphar”, ca. 1520 and reworked in about 1535, more than 50 clues were found pointing to Titian. The most significant was his hidden signature. GLAR found the so-called “Marilyn Monroe in the Bath” scene.

It has, as far as I know, never been mentioned that Titian painted miniatures into his paintings and for what reason. We think it was probably to make them copy-proof. If one didn’t know about the miniatures or faces it would be impossible to make a proper copy.

Paul Gauguin did it too—in almost all of his paintings. He started already in 1875 when he painted “The Seine in Paris between the Pont de Lena and the Pont de Grenelle” with a so-called double exposure (two paintings in one). The lower part is a Maritime subject from the Seine and the upper part is a sea with several small islands. The biggest islands shape fits to Læsø (Laesoe in Denmark). His wife Mette Gad was born and raised on that island in the Kattegat Sea in Denmark. The shape also fits to Marquesas Islands in the South Sea, but I can’t imagine that he already planned his escape to the South Sea in 1875, two years after he married Mette Gad.

When I was reading the press release from Ordrupgaard Museum in Denmark about the “Gauguin and Impressionism” exhibition August-November 2005, I had a closer look at some of the Ordrupgaard paintings. I was very surprised when I found a Gauguin self-portrait in “The Little Dreamer” hidden in the fools face It was also surprising to find a portrait of his good friend Vincent van Gogh in another painting “The Blue trees,” which was painted in 1888 , the same year he visited Vincent van Gogh. In the Hermitage, St. Petersburg collection I found the final proof. He also painted a portrait of his good friend Paul Cezanne into “A Landscape with two Goats” in 1897.

For many years Cézanne was known only to his old impressionist colleagues and to a few younger radical postimpressionist artists, including the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and the French painter Paul Gauguin. In 1895, however, Ambroise Vollard, an ambitious Paris art dealer, arranged a show of Cézanne's works and over the next few years promoted them successfully.

Paul Gauguin visited France from 1895-1897. He probably saw the Ambroise Vollard show in Paris during the visit, and decided to include Paul Cezanne’s portrait in one of his paintings as a gesture to Cezanne’s success as painter and a “Welcome to the club of famous French painters”.

The Winner of the John Glover Prize 2005, the Australian artist Mr. Stephen Lees, painted miniatures and faces into his beautiful winning landscape painting ”Wishbone Ridge”. Find the “Madonna with child”, “Two girls” and “Two portraits of men”, yourself, at http://www.johnglover.com.au/former_winners.html


Author's contact information:
Svend Erik Hendriksen
Greenland Art Research (GLAR)
P.O.Box 1004
3910 Kangerlussuaq
Greenland

hendriksengreennet.gl
Phone (+299) 23 23 50

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