Haunted Paintings are a fixture in any haunted home. You know the ones, lightning flashes and the beautiful bride painting turns into an evil hag or the painting of some creepy victorian man whose eyes follow you around the room. But did you know that there are actual haunted paintings?
When I’m not writing, I’m painting. In fact, I’ve actually just finished a give-away contest for a print of one of my paintings “The Master of Halloween Ceremonies”, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I really enjoy reading about Haunted Paintings. For this post, I’m going to introduce you to my favorite top 5 horrifying haunted paintings!
1.) The Hands Resist Him by Bill Stoneham:
This picture is pretty creepy all by itself. You have a young boy who looks kind of surly standing with a life-size doll. Behind him is a black window with multiple hands pressed against it. Bill Stoneham said that the painting was of him as a young boy. The doll was supposed to be a guide of sorts, and the hands behind him where all the different life paths he could have taken.
The painting was first shown in Feingarten Gallery in Beverly Hills, California during the early 1970s and it was reviewed by someone working for the Los Angeles Times. The owner of the gallery and the art critic both died within a year of viewing the painting. The painting was sold at that gallery to a man who would later play as Jack Woltz in The Godfather and the painting changed hands again after he died. It gained popularity when it was put up for auction on eBay with the initial bid being only $199. It was the eBay description that really caught the attention of the internet. First, it had a disclaimer that the owners wouldn’t be held liable for anything that resulted to the new owners of the painting. Secondly, they made some really strange claims about the painting. They said that the characters moved in the painting, and that actually the doll with the boy was actually threatening him with a gun to leave the painting and at times he would and enter the room in which the painting was displayed. There were also claims that the painting could inflict nausea and cause people to have “unpleasant experiences” just by viewing it.
The painting was eventually sold for $1,025.00 to Perception Gallery in Michigan. Thought that hasn’t stopped people from talking about their experiences with the painting. According to this article from The Daily Dot, even prints of the painting have caused the owners to experience odd things from people not coming to visit anymore because of the print. One person reported hearing an “exorcist-type voice, along with a blast of hot air when they viewed just the listing for the painting”. Another viewer also reported that he became ill while viewing the painting and had to burn white sage to cleanse his house afterward. Another reported ‘blackout/mind control experiences.
The current owners of the painting at the Gallery in Michigan said they have no current interest in selling the piece and that “It’s kind of got its own mystique that’s growing here.” and he still gets “a handful of messages about the haunted eBay painting”.
If you’d like to hear more about this painting, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND listening to this episode of Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities entitled Still Life in which he describes how absolutely creep this painting is.
2.) The Crying Boy by Giovanni Bragolin:
This painting has had several copies made, with the rumor being that not only do fires seem to mysteriously start around them but that the paintings themselves would be the only thing to survive the fires. The painting is simple enough. It features usually a boy but sometimes girl, around the age of 5 with a sad face and tears rolling down their cheeks. While I personally wouldn’t own a painting like in my home….because who wants to look at a kid crying all the time, I can see the artistic value and interest in it.
Several odd occurrences have circulated around both the original painting as well as its copies which is pretty bad news since it was apparently a very popular painting to have hanging in your home if you lived in Europe during the 1950s. Some of the claims include the following taken from an article posted on Exemplore:
• A woman in Surrey lost her house to fire 6 months after buying the painting.
• Two sisters in Kilburn had fires in their homes after buying a copy of the painting. One sister even claimed to have seen her painting sway backwards and forwards on the wall.
• A concerned woman on the Isle of Wight attempted to burn her painting without success and then went on to suffer a run of bad luck.
• A gentleman in Nottingham who possessed a print of the painting lost his home and his family was injured.
• A pizza parlor in Norfolk was destroyed including every painting on its walls except for “The Crying Boy.”
‘The Sun’ reported that even rational firefighters refused to have a copy of “The Crying Boy” in their homes.
It’s been speculated that the varnish on the original painting was treated with a kind of flame retardant and that possibility that was the reason it wouldn’t burn, but that didn’t explain why prints of the painting also seemed to be fire-resistant. In fact, Steve Punt who is a British Comedian and writer decided to test the theory that the painting wouldn’t burn for BBC Radio. In the clip below you can actually watch as a painting is set on fire only for the fire to die out shortly after.
3.) The Anguished Man by Unknown:
This has all the makings of a horror story. A tormented unknown artist goes and mixes his own blood into the paint he used to create this piece. Shortly after it’s completion the artists commit suicide and the painting changes hands. While there have been claims that it’s been featured on eBay, it’s also been said that those are merely copies and that the original is too dangerous to be sold with a clear conscience.
The original piece still remains in the hands of Sean Robinson who inherited it from his grandmother who got it as an “unwanted gift”. She kept it locked away and claimed that frightened her and was evil also that a dark man seemed to haunt it.
If you’re feeling skeptical you’re not alone. Sean also felt this way. So he took the painting to have in his home and hung it in all places in the bedroom. Once there the painting started haunting him. The appearance of a shadow figure (a figure made out of shadow not caused by anyone else) started to appear, along with disembodied crying started to happen. One morning his wife woke up to a “frightening figure” laying in bed next to her. She was so freaked out that she didn’t want to live in the same house as the painting. To compromise, Sean moved the painting to the basement.
Sean decided to create a YouTube channel around all the strange things that happen around the painting. Objects are seen falling and doors shutting on their own, and ghost lights appear around the painting as well. The painting will fall over on its own and people have apparently experienced nose bleeds and nausea after seeing the painting. It was also examined by paranormal investigators who claimed that the painting is possessed by two spirits one of which responds to the name David.
4.) The Dead Mother by Edvard Munch:
I would be willing to bet money, that you’ve already seen one of Edvard Munch‘s paintings that is if you’ve ever seen the famous “Scream” painting. This is also one of his. Though not as famous it’s still really creepy. It features a little girl with big blue eyes staring at the viewer. Her little hands are pressed tightly against her ears and behind her is a pale, almost white face of a woman, her mother dead in bed.
Edvard Munch was very familiar with pain in his life. His own mother died of tuberculosis when he was very young. He stayed home from school much of the time because he was ill and he occupied his time by drawing or reading from authors such as Edgar Allen Poe. His father, traumatized by his wife’s death became overly religious taking it to the extent of a possible neurosis. Edwards’ poor health and his father’s paranoia of death and the afterlife caused him to feel as though death were always on his heels. One of five children his other siblings also had a difficult time with one sister being diagnosed with a mental illness at a young age and only one other sibling marrying but died a few months later. In his older years, Edvard dealt with anxiety, alcoholism, and hallucinations.
So while this painting is troubling all by itself, painted by a tortured artist, a daughter with her dead mother, it gets a little more creepy. It’s said that the little girl’s eyes will follow you around the room, it’s said that sometimes she leaves the picture entirely, the sheets on the mother’s bed can be seen and heard at times moving.
5.) ANY PAINTING by Zdzislaw Beksinski:
I’m going, to be honest here. I hate Zdzislaw’s paintings…but I’m also fascinated by them. Are they disturbing? Yes! Do they keep me up at night? YES! Do I still Google them from time to time to look at them? YES!!!!
Like most artists, Zdzislaw did a good job of hiding his anxiety and fears to the public. Perhaps his art was a coping mechanism for all that he had mentally going on which I, being an artist myself, totally understands. He was shy and kept to himself, and avoided big events such as his own exhibition which again, I can totally relate to. He experienced several deaths. The first being of his wife, and then a year later on Christmas even his son committed suicide. Beksinski was the one to find his son’s body and could never quite come to terms with his death. In 2005 Zdzislaw was found murdered with 17 stab wounds, two of which being fatal. The cause of death was because he refused to loan someone $100.
While not haunted in the traditional sense as the pieces above, Beksinski’s painting is done in the style of dystopian surrealism. It’s life after the end of the world. There are lots of images of decay, death, skeletons, and deformed figures. He painted without judgment or reading into what he painted, and said: “I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams”. In my personal humble opinion, these look more like nightmares or at least that’s what they tend to give me if I look at them at night. Because he had no interest in hearing interpretations or thinking too deeply into his paintings he rarely named them. Once before moving, he burned several pieces in his own back yard because they were “too personal” or that they weren’t good enough and he didn’t want people seeing them.
I have chosen a few of my personal favorites (if you could call it that) of his works below just in case you didn’t want to sleep tonight.
So I hope you enjoyed this little art lesson or at least got what you expected to get out of a haunted paintings post. If you want to talk further about the paintings I’ve posted, or about any pieces you feel are hauntingly beautiful, let me know in the comments below! I love talking to those who read my blog. Also, feel free to check out and follow me on social media and if you would like to be entered into future drawings please don’t forget to Sign Up. I wish you a wonderful Fall season and a Happy Halloween! -Heather Autumn Astaneh