Leonardo Da Vinci self portrait sketch captioned with the words RENAISSANCE BRO

Classical Art Memes

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Updated May 10, 2021 at 03:29AM EDT by shevyrolet.

Added Apr 19, 2014 at 06:54PM EDT by Derpy Vaz.

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Classical Art Memes refer to a variety of humorous image macros that are based on paintings and other visual artworks from the times before modern history, including the Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Ages, as well as other prominent periods throughout art history.


The earliest known image macro series based on pre-contemporary artworks can be attributed to parodies of the Bayeux Tapestry, a French medieval-era embroidered cloth depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, which first began popping up on 4chan and YTMND since as early as in 2004.


Even though Renaissance Art didn't become popular on the internet until much later, Terry Gilliam of Monty Python's Flying Circus[2] was using Renaissance Art in his cartoon sketches in the late 60's. The famous foot in the opening credits is taken from Agnolo Bronzino's "Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time".[3]


The site Worth1000 has regularly held "Renaissance Celebrity" photoshop contests[4] that involves superimposing images of pop culture celebrities into classic paintings.

Throughout the 2000s, a number of historically significant or iconic paintings and other visual artworks became the subject of photoshopped parodies online, most notably The Last Supper, The Creation of Adam and Mona Lisa. For a timeline of notable memes based on pre-contemporary artworks, refer to the examples section below.

On August 4th, 2013, Redditor Tulki created the subreddit /r/trippinthroughtime[7] as a curation hub for image macros and reaction images featuring classic artworks, which has accrued over 100,000 subscribers over the next two years. On August 30th, 2014, a Facebook page[8] titled Classical Art Memes was launched, giving further boost to the spread of image macro parodies based on classical artworks. As of March 2016, the page has garnered more than a million likes.



Joseph Ducreux

In 2009, an image macro based on Portrait de l’artiste sous les traits d’un moqueur (English: Self-portrait of the artist in the guise of a mockingbird), a 1793 self-portrait by French painter Joseph Ducreux, featuring the caption “Disregard Females, Acquire Currency,” an archaic reinterpretation of lyrics from Notorious B.I.G’s 1995 hit single "Get Money," emerged on 4chan, spawning an extensive collection of image macro variations captioned with verbosely archaic interpretations of popular hip hop lyrics.

Chinese State TV Censorship

In 2012, CCTV censored the private parts of Michelangelo's David during a newscast about an exhibit at the National Museum of China.[5] Because of the government’s anti-vulgarity Internet censorship campaign and their decision to censor the content of TV and online photo albums. Images of Renaissance paintings where censored on the grounds of indecent display of nudity. The Chinese internet reacted by photoshopping garments over nudity in classical artwork.[6]

文化 态! 百年馆庆文艺复兴名家名作展亮相 11:48 :月回落0.8个百分点。 上半年CPI同比上涨3. @ llove亮亮 拉大

Give Her The Dick

In 2012, an image macro featuring Dutch artist Frans Hals' 1684 painting of French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes and a caption that reads "Give Her The Dick began" circulating on 4chan and Reddit, the popularity of which in turn gave rise to the slang term "The D".

Medieval Reactions

Reaction images using Medieval paintings. In March 2015 the Twitter account Medieval Reactions[9] was made and since has gained over 300k followers.

Medieval Reactions @MedievalReacts Mar 17 When the lights turn on in the club and you see who you've been pulling all night Medieval Reactions @MedievalReacts Mar 16 When your life's falling apart but you gotta smile through the pain like

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