Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings have been admired and studied for years, with every inch of every piece scoured over and studied endlessly. That’s why it’s so amazing to find out that experts have just discovered that a dead grasshopper has been stuck to one of the artist’s paintings for 128 years and no one noticed.
Van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” is a stunning example of how the creative genius used dabs and swirls of mesmerizing colors to create dream-like scenes. However, if you were to look a little closer at this particular piece, you might see small pieces of an insect (including its thorax and abdomen) embedded in the paint. Ew.
Spotted first by a conservator when the artwork was placed under magnification during a research session at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, it’s pretty clear that one unfortunate little creature may have wandered across the work while it was still in progress and met its untimely death while at the same time making itself part of art history.
“Van Gogh worked outside in the elements,” the director of the museum, Julián Zugazagoitia, said in a statement to The Kansas City Star, “and we know that he… dealt with wind and dust, grass and trees, and flies and grasshoppers.”
However, the publication noted that paleo-entomologist Michael Engel of the University of Kansas reported there was no sign of movement in the surrounding paint, which seems to mean that the insect was dead on impact.
As for the future of the critter’s corpse, it’s being left where it has laid for more than a century. So, if you happen to visit “Olive Trees” at the museum’s Bloch Galleries or own a print of your own, be sure to see if you can spot the grasshopper bits that have become part of a great work of art.
(image via Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art)