Can a painting possibly be the cause of paranormal activity? What first comes to your mind when you think of the word ‘haunted’? Your mind probably automatically conjures up images of foggy, moonlit graveyards and creaking old houses, right? Well, in the case of these eight cursed paintings you might find that you’re safer in the graveyard at the stroke of midnight than in a room with any of these mysterious works of art hanging on the wall.
From unexplained deaths and mysterious fires to a painting that threatens young unmarried girls, these notoriously haunted works of art can be a real scream.
1 – The Portrait Of Bernardo de Galvez
Location: The Hotel Galvez, 2024 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, TX 77550, USA
Bernardo de Galvez was born in 1746, he was a very powerful Spanish military leader who aided the American colonies during the Revolutionary War. In the early 1900’s the city of Galveston opened an amazing hotel and named it after Bernardo De Galvez. And you can’t name a hotel after someone if you don’t have a huge portrait of them on display within the hotel.
You can find this magnificent portrait of Bernardo De Galvez at the end of the downstairs hallway. Ever since the hotel opened guests would complain about this portrait. The guest would say when walking past the painting the eyes won’t stop following them, making the guests get a little creeped out.
Some even thought it was the hotel playing a trick on them. There are also a lot of reports of people feeling very cold and un easy if standing to close to the painting for an extended period of time.
2 – The Crying Boy
In the 1950s, Italian artist Bruno Amadio, also known as Giovanni Bragolin, painted over 65 portraits of Italian orphans crying, which he sold as souvenirs to tourists in the wake of the Second World War. During the 50s, the paintings went on to become one of the most popular mass produced series of prints in England, but it was not until the 1980s that any particular strangeness was associated with them. Starting from 1985, it was claimed that firefighters were finding completely undamaged copies of The Crying Boy amongst the ashes and rubble of burned down houses, always lying face down on the floor. In over 50 house fires The Crying Boy paintings were claimed to have inexplicably avoided fiery destruction and to have ended up in the same face down position. It was also reported that homes which had copies of the paintings were prone to a higher rate of house fires than usual.
Theories ranged from the little boy being a gypsy child whose family placed a curse on the artist. Some claimed that the child had died in a fire and his spirit was trapped in the painting. The most enduring story claimed the crying boy accidentally set fire to the studio of the artist who had painted him. The child’s parents had also been killed in a blaze. Wherever the little orphan went fires mysteriously followed, earning him the nickname Diablo or Devil. The boy supposedly survived to early adulthood but was tragically killed when his car crashed and burst into flames. From then onwards it was his image that carried on his cursed fascination with fire.
3 – The Rain Woman
Location: art salon in Vinnitsa, Ukraine
The Rain Woman, painted by Ukrainian artist Svetlana Telets, is another very weird picture. The artist revealed she made it in just five hours, and all the while someone seemed to draw with her hand or some unknown power was forcing her doing it. And even before the came up with idea to create this painting she felt like being watched by for the period of six months. All buyers returned it with complaints of insomnia, anxiety, and feelings of being watched.
4 – The Hands Resist Him
Location: Perception Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 210 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, USA
This piece of art is considered by many to be the most famous haunted painting in history. Painted in 1972, by Bill Stoneham, it depicts a young boy staring straight ahead and a scary-looking female doll standing in front of a glass door with many hands pressed against it.
It was first sold by an art gallery in 1974 and it’s said that the owner of the gallery, the buyer and an art critic who had written about it were all dead within a year. It was put up for auction on eBay in 2000 and sold for $1,025.00 and at that time Bill Stoneham said he wasn’t aware of its haunting or any reasons for it.
Many people reported strange occurrences by merely viewing the painting online. Some people said they felt nauseous, faint, dizzy, or irrationally terrified when looking at the image, while others claimed that their children would sometimes run away screaming when they saw it or that infants would cry in its presence. A few online viewers claimed that their printer would malfunction if they tried to download the image of the painting. Even more ominously, there were those who reported hearing eerie disembodied voices or feeling hot gusts of air when looking at the painting, blanking out for long periods of time, being gripped by some unseen force, being grabbed or tickled by invisible hands, or even having their mind controlled by a mysterious entity.
5 – The portrait of Maria Lopukhina
Location: Tretyakov gallery, Lavrushinsky Ln, 10, Moskva, Russia, 119017
The portrait was painted by Russian artist Vladimir Borovikovsky in 1797, a few years before Maria Lopukhina’s early death from consumption.
It is likely that rather than sensing her tragic fate, Borovikovsky had imbued the painting with his own preoccupation: the question of Christian moral duty, which was of particular importance to him from the late 1790s. Seeking further moral enlightenment, Borovikovsky in 1802 became a member of a Masonic lodge and in 1819 of a mystic sect.
Later on the portrait has started to gain a reputation of being bad luck to whoever look at it. It was believed that portrait possessed mystic superpower and could effect or even cause early death of the young unmarried girl. Superstitious people claimed few unexpected tragic deaths of young girls whose souls were stolen by evil spirit trapped in the painting.
6 – “Love Letters” – Haunted painting in Driskill Hotel
Location: Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701, USA
The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas, is famous for its haunted reputation and is a regular stop off for paranormal tourists from around the world. Of all the many ghost stories connected to the hotel, the most well known is that of Samantha Houston, the four-year-old daughter of a U.S. Senator. During her stay at the hotel in 1887, Samantha tragically fell to her death while chasing a ball down the main staircase. The painting Love Letters which hangs in the hotel does not actually depict Samantha, but it is said to be haunted by her spirit none the less.
Sightings of a little girl playing with a ball have been seen throughout the hotel. Staff and guests regularly report that the painting makes them feel dizzy and nauseous, while others have experienced a sensation of being lifted into the air while standing in front of it. Some even claim that the painting is trying to communicate with them, believing that if you stand in front of it for long enough the little girl’s expression will change.
7 – The Dead Mother by Edvard Munch
Location: Kunsthalle Bremen, Am Wall 207, 28195 Bremen, Germany
Edvard Munch is most famous for his painting The Scream, and an overall fairly dark individual. Munch had been driven nearly insane by his upbringing in the house of an abusive, religious fanatic of a father after the tragic death of his mother and sister by tuberculosis when he was only 5 years old. The Dead Mother seems to reflect some of that angst, despair, and insanity, with these elements congealing to form what can only be described as a truly disturbing painting to look at. It depicts a young girl with her back turned to a bed on which her dead mother lies as she holds her hands to her ears and displays a wide-eyed expression of disbelief. Munch himself said of his work in his typically dour way, “Sickness, madness and death were the black angels who watched over [his] cradle.” Already creepy enough then, but it gets even creepier. People who have owned the painting claimed that the girl’s eyes incessantly followed them, that the sheets on mother’s bed in the painting would rustle or move, or even that the girl’s apparition would occasionally leave the painting altogether.
8 – The Anguished Man
Location: Cumbria, North West England, UK. Owner: Sean Robinson
This creepy and somewhat terrifying painting was allegedly kept for 25 years in the attic of the grandmother of a man named Sean Robinson. The grandmother had always made odd claims about the painting, such as that the painter had mixed his own blood into the paint when creating the work and that he had committed suicide right after completing it. The grandmother had also claimed that voices could be heard screaming or crying when the blood infused painting was viewed, and that a somewhat threatening shadowy, spectral shape could also be seen in its vicinity, which convinced her that it was haunted by the artist and was the main reason it had been tucked away into her attic for all of those years.
In 2010, Robinson inherited the painting from his grandmother upon her death and allegedly almost immediately his family was beset by weird happenings, seemingly harassed by a strange force pervading their house. Robinson claimed that upon acquiring The Anguished Man, his son had been pushed down the stairs by unseen hands, that his wife often felt something stroking her hair, and that there were numerous instances of poltergeist activity around their house. The whole family also heard the screaming and crying that Robinson’s grandmother had described, and spotted the mysterious shadowy figure lurking near the painting on many occasions as well. The Anguished Man gained the most notoriety when Robinson decided to set up a camera near the painting to record the paranormal phenomena and uploaded them onto YouTube. The videos show various instances of alleged ghostly activity such as the painting falling to the floor, doors slamming shut, and even smoke rising up from the painting. Spooky stuff, but many viewers have claimed that it is nothing but a hoax.