Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (2023)

Who doesn't like solving a good puzzle, or better yet, trying to solve one? And while not all questions have an answer, it's fun to play around with hypotheses! Even the art world has some, so let's take a closer look, shall we?

1: The undeformed rocks of Stonehenge

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (1)

Por garethwiscombe –, CC BY 2.0,

You must be living under a rock if you've never heard of Stonehenge! But puns aside, this strangely arranged stone monument has baffled scholars, archaeologists, and historians for centuries.

The arrangement of the stones found in Wiltshire, England clearly shows some kind of thoughtful design and purpose behind them, as if they were encountering a sculpture or painting. The reason for its size and location is unknown, so there has been much speculation as to why and how Stonehenge was built.

Popular theories include that Stonehenge is some kind of alien summoning circle, a graveyard, or even a structure created by the wizard Merlin. What do you think? What would you use a giant stone structure for?

2. Draw the Nazca Lines

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (2)

Von Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0,

For something more "artsy" but still quite ancient, try exploring the Nazca Lines, which are geoglyphs drawn in the Nazca desert in Peru.

On the ground, they look like narrow but long ditches that cut their way through the red desert soil. But from a bird's eye view, you literally get the whole picture - a set of icons that resemble different animals and plants.

Although it is not very difficult to create with today's technology, it is such an enigma that its creation dates back to around 500 BC. until 500 AD The sheer size of these drawings makes them a fantastic achievement, while their purpose remains a total mystery!

Again, theories include the ever-popular aliens, or perhaps it was created by the Nazca people to serve as a calendar to remember important dates. Or maybe it was some kind of cultural or religious ritual lost in the folds of time.

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3.The death of an artist

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (3)

By Vincent van Gogh - mwF3N6F_RfJ4_w with maximum zoom from Google Cultural Institute, public domain,

Evidence from Vincent van Gogh's death in 1890 seems to point to suicide: his struggle with poverty, major depression and general mental problems.

However, there were some inconsistencies with these clues, such as the gun never being found, or testimony of how two teenagers intimidated Van Gogh just before he was shot. This has led to a few theories, such as being accidentally killed or being shot after getting into trouble.

Regardless, van Gogh died too young for his time, and the world has lost a great artist and pioneer of Post-Impressionist art.

4. Caravaggio's secret crime (not like this)

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (4)

Digitized by Caravaggio himself, public domain,

Speaking of murder mysteries, the baroque painter Caravaggio may have gotten away with one of them. A famous Italian artist of the 16th century AD. C. often depicts human subjects in dramatic situations, evoking emotions through powerful lighting and bordering on disturbing contrasts.

And maybe he himself was worried, considering that he committed murder two years before painting.The beheading of Saint John the Baptist. He fled to Malta before he was caught and was even commissioned to paint this painting on the run.

The most mysterious thing is that centuries later his signature was found on this painting, signed with the blood of Saint John.

This is the only work he signed and some say he depicted his own crime in this painting. But who knows? How he did it has never been confirmed, and he got away with it pretty well (but maybe not with a guilty conscience).

5. Or the elusive Banksy

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (5)

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Von Dominic Robinson de Bristol, Reino Unido – Banksy Girl and Heart Balloon, CC BY-SA 2.0,

On the more modern and lighthearted side we have the mystery of Banksy, a prolific street artist since the 1990s whose satirical graffiti appears here and there on walls, mostly on the streets of England. But while art proves that Banksy exists, no one really knows who they are.

Speculators think that Banksy is probably British or at least lives in the UK, since most of his work is found there, but otherwise not much is known about this artist. But many more, particularly Banksy fans, believe that his identity should remain unknown, not only to fuel his intrigue but also to protect it, since some of his more politically oriented artwork can get her in trouble.

Aside from all that, it's exciting to imagine that the common stranger next to you could be a famous artist, isn't it? That's why it's better to leave some mysteries unsolved.

6. Mona Lisa smile

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (6)

By Leonardo da Vinci - Cropped and flattened from File:Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, by C2RMF.jpg. Originally C2RMF: High Definition Paintings Gallery - Images Page, Public Domain,

Ah ahMona Lisa, the most famous work of Leonardo da Vinci and perhaps even the most famous painting in the world. Your eyes seem to follow you around the room and can see directly into your soul...

Apart from her bewitching eyes and smile, the mystery has long been a matter of identity. However, after much research, most believe that she is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of an Italian merchant.

Today, scientists are more interested in using infrared images to see what's under the visible layer of paint, and thus find out even more about the paint. This includes da Vinci's original sketch or things that have been modified while he was painting.

Anyway, if you get the chance to go to the Louvre, see if you can solve the mystery behind those moving eyes or what almost makes their smiles come to life.

7. Polynesian confusion

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (7)

Von Ian Sewell - Easter Island Photo Gallery, CC BY 2.5,

(Video) UNSOLVED Mysteries Of The Art World!

Returning to the more geographical side, the head-shaped monoliths of Easter Island are a must-see. Dating from the 13th to 16th centuries, they were created by the Rapa Nui, a Polynesian tribe that lived on the island.

First, it is impressive that they have made so many (almost 900 in total!), but what is more impressive and strange is how more than half of them are placed on stone platforms that surround the coast of the island.

The mystery is similar to that of Stonehenge: how did they move? Some speculate that the Rapa Nui people felled the trees, aligned the trunks, and basically rolled the rocks away from the quarry and toward the shore to carve them, which is why there was a severe shortage of trees when the island was discovered by Europeans. 1722.

But these moai (that is, monoliths) are real,Actuallyheavy – from 80 to 145 tons! Who knows, maybe it's the aliens again with their transmission technology that helped move these statues.

8. Just an ordinary girl?

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (8)

By Johannes Vermeer -, public domain,

Although not as famous as that.Mona Lisa, there is another girl who arouses almost as much intrigue. this would be himthe pearl girl, a beautiful painting by Johannes Vermeer in c. 1665.

She doesn't smile like them.Mona Lisa, and yet his eyes fascinated many from afar. And in contrast toMona LisaWe still don't know who she was, only that she must have been the muse that inspired Vermeer.

Not much is known about Vermeer's private life either, which also contributes to his mysterious identity. People think that he could have been his lover or his daughter, but in the end it seems that he managed to take that secret with him to the grave.

9. Mystery with a $10 million reward

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (9)

From the Federal Bureau of Investigation - - of-stolen-gardner-museum-artwork, public domain,

this is soMillennium Prize Edition, but from the art world and more sinister.

(Video) 65 Unsolved Mysteries of The World & Universe That Cannot Be Explained | Compilation

The crime to be solved is a 1990 art theft in which thirteen works by various famous artists such as Rembrandt and Manet were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The artwork was valued at $500 million, but that number has likely risen in recent decades.

Bounty aside, the events and lack of leads surrounding the theft offered little to no insight into who might have done what or where the art ended up. Even the FBI couldn't find many leads, and the lead went cold a long time ago.

Maybe I should classify this as an "anti-art mystery" instead of an "art mystery".

10. A painting that danced?

Top 10 Unsolved Art Mysteries (10)

Von Edgar Degas -

For our final mystery, we have the work of Edgar Degas.ballerina makes points. After being transported to the United States to avoid World War II, she was eventually sold to Huguette Clark in c. 1955, a rich but lonely lady.

He lived to the old age of 104 and spent the last twenty years in a hospital. But about a year after they moved in, the painting mysteriously disappeared from her apartment. It reappeared a few years later and was sold by an anonymous man to Henry and Marion Bloch.

When Clark found out about this, he wanted to take legal action, but things got a little complicated because he never reported the theft. The FBI also couldn't figure out how the painting was stolen in the first place, though rumor has it employees stole it or the janitor found it in the dumpster.

Fortunately, in the end everything was cleared up and the painting was found. But how did it "disappear"? Was it a theft, an accidental discard, or something else? Maybe you can come up with your own theories!

Interested in learning more art history? Take a look at this blog whereDiscover artists in their sketchbooks!

Have you heard of other art mysteries? What kind of mystery arouses your curiosity the most? Let us know in the comments below! If you're interested in more tips, tricks, and general tips on making art, feel free to sign up for our newsletter as messages. You'll also stay up to date on our latest product releases and flash sales!

Nicola Zoiis a graphic designer and illustrator from Hong Kong. He likes to watch the birds do funny things, find stories and cook up a storm in his spare time. She has a pet yeast called Doughy.


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