UFOlogists over the years have pored over the finer details of Renaissance art, looking for evidence to support their cause, and recently I have been having fun taking a scalpel to their findings. The example I am going to look at today is I think a prime example of how UFOlogists either fail to educate themselves about the paintings before jumping to conclusions, or cynically decide to ignore the facts. After all, conspiracy theories sell books, and wherever money is involved we need to approach with caution. So here we have, celebrated by UFOlogists, the 15th Century Madonna and Child with the Infant St John, which can be found in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, artist unknown (but the subject of speculation):
This is a bonanza for UFOlogists, because they find not one, but two details to interest them. In the top right we have a UFO arriving, watched by a man and his dog.
In the top left the minions of Cthulhu are arriving:
Both of these have much more sensible explanations if you have much knowledge of Renaissance art. A close look at the UFO reveals that there is gilding missing, with fragments remaining. This would originally have been a golden cloud, emitting light. The man with his dog is a shepherd. So this fits in with an image you will see in endless representations of the Nativity, with shepherds observing the arrival of an angel. Do your own search on that if you want. You’ll find dozens of examples in Renaissance art. The angel hasn’t made his grand entrance yet, but even that is not particularly unusual. Here’s a detail from Lorenzo Monaco’s The Nativity, from the start of the same century Madonna and Child with the Infant St John was painted, with a strikingly similar motif:
One of the first things you need to understand about Renaissance artists is that they all copied each other, and didn’t even necessarily understand the significance of what they were copying.
Cthulhu’s minions are even more easy to identify. Here’s a detail from Madonna del Libro by Botticelli:
Yep, there’s those tentacles again. Once again we have artists who don’t understand the significance of what they are painting and are merely copying what went before. This motif was used in the previous century in a group of three, to represent virginity before, during and after the birth of Jesus. The original meaning was lost when artists like Botticelli copied previous works and thought, “I’ll stick a few more of those on her arm”, and whether by luck or judgement the unknown artist of Madonna and Child with the Infant St John actually got the number right.
That brings us to an important point. Art is often symbolic, not literal. UFOlogists look at paintings in a very literal sense, to reach their interpretations, and fail to educate themselves on the art itself. In doing so, they unfortunately tend to make themselves look rather silly and ill-informed to the wider world that exists outside their von Däniken bubble. RP
Further reading: The UFO Baptism