15 Historical Paintings That Were Turned Into Hilarious Memes

History can be simultaneously one of the most interesting and boring subjects we learn about. You could sit in history class one week and find it loathsome, and then the next week a fact will have you thinking “wait, that really happened?”

We learn a lot from history. There’s a reason the phrase “Those unable to catalog the past are doomed to repeat it” is so well known and spoken often (that’s a quote from Lemony Snicket, by the way, although other equally wise individuals have said similar things in the same vain). History and all of its artifacts that we possess now have a lot to teach us about the past. So it is incredible to think that in a hundred years from now, people will look back at what we have left behind and attempt to make sense of our beliefs and our history. They will look at relics of our iPhones and scoff at such basic technology, question how we managed to survive with such simple means. They’ll discover our lost MySpace pages (seriously, go and deactivate that) and laugh openly at our emo phases. Just imagine the fun they'll have trying to write essays about the hidden meanings in all of our internet memes…

While it’s fair to say that everyone will have their own interests within history, it is also entirely plausible that you will find the following paintings from throughout history hilarious. The paintings alone may not necessarily be entertaining, but with the modern era introducing memes and quick wit, the internet has recreated these art history paintings into absolute comedic gems…

15 The Last Judgement


"When you're tryna live a sensible life but that one mate always manages to f*ck you up" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: This piece by Jean Bellegambe (The Elder) was painted around 1525, and uses oil on oak panels. There is not a lot of information about this painting on the usually all-knowing internet, but the close-up, taken from the right lower panel has been adopted by millennials.

THE MEME: The image is used to provide a visual for funny statements about friends who are bad influences. With the new wave of students starting College, they will soon be able to relate to the feeling of not wanting to get too crazy on a night out, along with the next day regret because That One Friend managed to get you absolutely wasted.

Although upon closer inspection, the entire painting (worth the Google search) looks like the entire college experience. Seriously, though, the demon guy’s creepy face aside, have you ever seen eyes so blue?

14 Gabrielle d'Estrées And One Of Her Sisters


"When the teacher says find a partner, so you and your best mate are like" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: Painted by an unknown artist around 1594. It is kept at the Louvre in Paris, and people think it was painted by someone who attended the Fontainebleau School. The women in the painting are Gabrielle d'Estrées (Right), who was the mistress of King Henry IV of France, and her sister (Left). There are lots of interpretations that attempt to explain why Gabby’s sister might be pinching her nipple, but nobody really knows for sure.

THE MEME: Group projects are the worst. Having your teacher assign you a partner is worse. But when you get to pick your own partner in class? And your best friend is in that class? Well, apparently this is the appropriate reaction.

13 Portrait Of Agnolo Doni


"when you see someone you know in public" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: The Portrait of Agnolo Doni was painted between 1506-1507 by Italian Renaissance master Raphael. No, not the Ninja Turtle. The painting is housed in Florence at the Pitti Palace. This painting is said to mark the beginning of Raphael’s maturity as an artist. The portrait was done in conjunction with the Portrait of Maddalena Doni.

THE MEME: This is one everyone will relate to… You know that feeling where you are out and about and you just really do not want to bump into anyone you know? Maybe you left the house in sweats and look like a goblin, or you’re just feeling particularly anti-social, but you can guarantee that on the day that you don’t want to see anyone, you bump into the person you’d least like to see, and, naturally, you pull a maneuver not too dissimilar to Mr. Doni's over here.

12 The Shakers


"When the DJ drops Thriller" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: The painting is most likely of The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, also known as the Shakers. The Shakers are a sect of Christianity founded in 18th Century England. They were known as “Shakers Quakers” for a long time because of their ecstatic behaviour during worship services. There are currently 4 “Shakers” remaining at the last Shaker Village in Maine.

THE MEME: The Shakers are now used to meme-ify that moment when you are in the club, you’re dressed to impress, you’re shakin’ your stuff, it’s Halloween, and then even though you were kind of expecting it, Thriller comes on and everyone loses their minds and does a poor imitation of M.J.’s sweet dance moves.

11 Ymir & The Cow Auðumbla


"When there's no milk in the fridge" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: This is a painting by Nicolai Abildgaard, circa 1790. It depicts Ymir, who is an ancestor of a mythological race in Norse mythology. Ymir is suckling from the cow, Auðumbla, while the cow licks Búri (the first Norse God, Odin’s grandfather) from the ice. The weirdest kind of three-way. So, in summation, Thor’s heritage is somewhat strange and his family line is kind of indebted to the primeval cow for its helping hand with the ice situation.

THE MEME: We all know this feeling. It is usually your roommate’s fault. They put the old, empty carton back in the fridge. It almost always happens exactly after you have already poured your coffee or your cereal and you look into the fridge and all your hopes and dreams are crushed in an instant.

10 Our Lady Of Sorrows


"When you getting your portrait painted but need the squad to know you're street af" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: This is a painting which has been created to depict one of ‘The Seven Sorrows of Mary’. These are works used to refer to the Blessed Virgin Mary in relation to her many sorrows in life, and they are a popular Roman Catholic devotion. Because why not paint and celebrate a woman’s miseries just to really make sure she doesn’t forget them, right? Fun fact: there is a public, formal feast every September 15th for ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’.

THE MEME: Have you seen the 2002 movie Ali G Indahouse? When listing the genre for the film, Google literally calls it a ‘Stoner film/Comedy’ but it is also a great exaggeration of ‘being street’, which this painting of Mary also seems to emulate… Who do you think is more street, Mary or Ali G?

9 Truth Coming Out Of Her Well (To Shame Mankind)


THE HISTORY: This 1896 painting by French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme when translated, is called "Truth emerging from the well armed with her whip to chastise mankind". The oil on canvas painting is, in a way, a sequel to Gérôme’s 1895 piece, in which he painted “the nurturer of truth” laying slaughtered at the bottom of a well. The two paintings are thought to have been created in response to the Dreyfus affair. Many would agree that a huge painting is certainly one (albeit an odd one) way of responding to someone spilling some secrets…

THE MEME: Of course, the internet and its love for memes has given the painting a slightly more modern meaning. The painting is frequently used as a reaction image when people exaggerate facts, i.e. they do not tell the exact truth. The picture has also been incorporated into the ‘kinkshame’ meme… which “is the act of mocking or criticizing someone’s specific sexual predilections. Originating in the social justice blogosphere, the term has been applied outside of its original context as a way of criticizing overzealous political correctness.” Just Google 'Truth Coming Out Of Her Well Meme', you won't be disappointed!

8 Unknown


"When you're in a three way group chat and the other two start having a conversation between themselves" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: Google offered no insight about this painting. It has become so absorbed by modern meme culture that even using Google Image search provided no information about the original painting. And no, the library was never an option.

THE MEME: Group chats are both great means of communication and also the bane of your existence. They are great at sending out information to lots of people at once, so you don’t have to text all of your squad individually, but they are also extremely annoying when everyone starts spamming a million messages that you have no interest in. The “mute” option on Facebook has probably literally saved lives. But you know that feeling when you’re in a group chat, and then two of your friends in the group chat start talking about plans that in no way involve you. Even though you’re right there. In the group chat. Seeing the messages. About the plans they’re making without you. Well, you're that guy with his head poking out of the bushes desperately wanting to be noticed. Yeah, that's you.

7 The Entombment Of Christ


"That one mate who never makes it past pre drinks"— Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: This painting by Caravaggio was created in 1603-1604, and follows the theme of oil on canvas. A copy of the painting is located in the chapel it was intended for in Santa Maria in Vallicella. The original is in the Vatican Pinacoteca. It has been copied with small variations by many different artists, including Rubens, Fragonard, Géricault and Cézanne.

THE MEME: The Entombment of Christ is now used for much more amusing themes. We all have that one friend that gets absolutely wasted before you have even made it out of the house. His name is usually Trent or Brandon and the visual of getting him to the club usually doesn’t look too dissimilar to the painting above. There are the friends that try and help him out and the ones who are 1000% done and just want to leave him at home (see the two women who are obviously thinking “Oh, for Christ’s sake!”).

6 Bacchus And Ariande


"When he goes to get your valentines present and comes back like 'here it is'" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: This piece was created by Guido Reni in Italy, circa 1619-1620. The European painting is currently on public view at the LACMA in the Ahmanson Building, third floor. The gallery suggests that since its displays are ever changing, if you want to view this particular painting, to contact them before your visit to make sure it is on display. The painting is categorized within the Baroque style, which was used to exaggerate details to display drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur.

THE MEME: The guy in this painting has clearly put way too much stock in the phrase “size doesn’t matter,” if his confident pose is anything to go by, while the woman– who has probably already been propositioned fifty times that day– is still aware that regardless of size, you still have to know what to do with it.

5 Portrait Of Maddalena Doni


"*sits 27 hours for an oil painting* Omg god delete that. Im serious bartholomew. Do not hang that in the great hall" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: The Portrait of Maddalena Doni was painted in 1506 by Italian Renaissance master Raphael. Still not the Ninja Turtle. The painting is housed in Florence at the Pitti Palace alongside its partner, the Portrait of Agnolo Doni. It seems this lady and the guy in the other painting were married, and clearly both super happy and in love, given their expressions.

THE MEME: Selfies are great– because you are the one holding the camera and you can make sure you get yourself in the best light and from your best angle. Sometimes, it can feel like that takes a lot of pre-photo work, and sometimes it takes a few attempts before you get a picture that is acceptable enough to post on social media. But when other people are taking photos of you? Well, that’s another story…

4 Judith Beheading Holofernes


"when bae cheats on you in your dreams" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: This painting is one of many depictions of Judith killing Holofernes. This particular piece was done by Jan de Bray in 1659. The painting is kept in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In the picture, Judith is raising the sword to kill enemy war lord Holofernes. Is anyone else a little concerned with how this guy has his pillows? His head is just hanging over, which can’t be good for his neck; not that it will matter for much longer…

THE MEME: You know when you have a dream that your significant other does something really crappy? They cheat on you or are really mean to you? You wake up and you know, rationally, that it was a dream and they have not actually done anything wrong. But then you look over at them, laying next to you, and the emotions left over from the dream are still raw and...

3 Fall Of The Titans


"When you walk into the club but it's a sausage fest" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: Painted by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem in 1588-90, the piece is showcasing a battle between the Olympian Gods (headed by Zeus) and the Titans, Cyclopses, and Giants. The battle, known as Titanomachia, ended in the Titans’ defeat and ultimately being sent to the underworld by Zeus, where they caused earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. While naked.

THE MEME: It is fairly well known that straight women like to go to gay bars when they want to have a nice night out, dancing and drinking with their friends without the very high possibility of having to dodge and maneuver any unwanted male attention. Thing is, it’s so well known that straight guys have started to follow them…

2 Patroclus


"when you're Netflix and chilling with bae but your mum barges in cos you forgot your helmet" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: While there is little information readily available about the painting itself, it is thought to be a depiction of Patroclus. Patroclus comes from Greek mythology, and he was Achilles’ comrade and brother-in-arms. The most popular story about Patroclus is the one where Achilles lends him his armor in order to fight the Trojans. Achilles was throwing a tantrum about honor and refused to fight, but when Patroclus suggested he wear his armor to intimidate the Trojans, Achilles was like “yeah, sure thing bro.”

THE MEME: Everyone knows what 'Netflix and Chill' is (and if not, you don't deserve to keep reading). And there's no doubt that it can be a lot of fun, but make sure you practice safe “chilling” or your mom might bust in on you to make sure you have protection.

1 Mary Tudor Burning Protestants


"When it's your turn to be roasted in the squad chat" — Medieval Reactions (@MedievalReacts)

THE HISTORY: According to the internet, this is a painting of Thomas Hawks being burned at the stake during the reign of "bloody Queen Mary" for his faithfulness to his religious views and principles. “Bloody Mary” executed so many protestants that she earned her nickname this way, which clearly stuck because it has survived throughout history, so keep that in mind when you are given a weird nickname, lose it ASAP or be remembered forever as “Centurion Steve.” Ah, is it not nice to reflect on the slightly shady and definitely blood thirsty history of England?

THE MEME: As previously discussed, group chats are fantastic. The only thing is that it's a 24-hour portal where your friends can turn on you. You say something and suddenly all of them are a combined force and it is your turn to be the butt of the joke. Everyone gets a turn, eventually.

Sources: knowyourmeme.com

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