Week 9: Famous Art

All this week's missions are about famous pieces of art!

More From Week 9: Famous Art

Mission 1: The Ambassadors

All this week we're finding out about some of the most famous paintings ever! Today's painting is called The Ambassadors...

The Ambassadors is a famous painting that has a very special hidden surprise in it…

Listen to this audio clip to find out a little more about the painting…

Who painted this?

It was painted by a man called Hans Holbein the Younger who was a German painter in 1533.

Who are the two people in the painting?

On the left is Jean de Dinteville, the French ambassador to England, and on the right there’s Georges de Selve, bishop of Lavaur, who had acted as ambassador to the Emperor of the Venetian Republic and the Holy See. 

What’s so special about this painting?

This painting is great for those of you who love to look for things like in a Where’s Wally book.

The two men are standing next to shelves with lots of different items on them. Can you spot all the items?

There are lots of scientific items you can see like globes and instruments to measure with on the top shelf, but there are also religious items like the hymn book on the bottom shelf.

Okay so there are lots of things to spot in this painting, but what’s the big hidden secret in it?

If you look on the floor in between the two men, you can see a very strange long black and white splodge.

If you look carefully you can see that it’s actually a skull that’s been stretched.

If you stand to the side of the painting and look at it it starts to look like a normal skull.

Click here to download and print the image if you’re having trouble seeing the normal skull on your screen

The perspective is distorted, this optical illusion is called an anamorphic illusion.

A more modern example is when you watch a football match on TV. The logos around the pitch look like they’re 3D but when you see the pitch from the cameras closer to the pitch you can see that they’re actually really long and weird stretched out paintings.

This works in exactly the same way, when you look at it from the right angle you can see the image, if you don’t then it just looks weird.

And remember, this was painted hundreds of years before they started showing football on the TV so it was quite an impressive trick back then!

Got any other examples of anamorphic illusions?


Check out this one, at one angle it looks like a woman lying on a strange painted floor but when the camera is in the right place it looks like she’s lying on the sofa!

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Your mission is to create your own painting with a hidden message or secret in it!

An anamorphic illusion is a way to hide something in a picture but there are loads of other ways too!

You can hide something small in the picture – like Wally in a Where’s Wally book – or you could have the trees in the background spell out a secret message or you could write a message in invisible ink on the picture.

Whatever you want to do to hide your message is fine, just grab your paints or pencils and create your own masterpiece with a hidden secret.

We’d love to see your creations. Send your pictures to [email protected] and we’ll see if the presenters can unlock your secrets!

Check back tomorrow for another mission all about famous art!

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Week 9: Famous Art

All this week's missions are about famous pieces of art!

More From Week 9: Famous Art