Whilst on my wall this morning, I thought a bit about the ‘hidden’ image in a Johannes Vermeer painting entitled ‘Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window’. CNN ran the story today, though an x ray of the work more than 40 years ago originally revealed the image of cupid, painted upon the wall behind the titular girl. A fascinating story, it set me to thinking about if Eric Sloane had painted ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ images in his paintings. The answer is ‘yes’, though not anything sinister. In fact, these ‘hidden images’ were in plain sight, usually in the form of a private joke or meaningful symbol, known and understood by both painter and recipient.
Here, we have Sloane’s ‘Into The Sky’, completed c. 1955. Painted as a gift to his new wife’s parents, you can see a cloud painted in a ring slightly right of top center (see next photo for a close up). That ring is a ‘smoke ring’, or rather a cloud Eric made to look like a ring of smoke his new, cigar smoking and smoke ring blowing father in law would make float across the room. That private joke was appreciated by the recipients, then in turn by Eric’s eventual ex-wife, then by me, who was lucky enough to acquire the painting, and equally lucky to have been told the story.