Can You Spot All the Hidden Sayings in This 450-Year-Old Painting?

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons

Hidden image puzzles aren't a recent invention. In 1559, a Dutch artist named Pieter Bruegel the Elder produced an oil painting featuring visualizations of over 100 common proverbs—and trying to spot them all is just as entertaining today as it was 450 years ago.

The painting, titled Netherlandish Proverbs, depicts a busy scene of villagers engaged in unusual activities. Some details are baffling at first glance, but they each reflect a different idiom taken from the Dutch language.

The roof scattered with what looks like pies, for instance, is an interpretation of to have the roof tiled with tarts, which is another way of saying to be very wealthy. The man who looks distraught over a bowl of food represents the proverb he who has spilt his porridge cannot scrape it all up again, a.k.a. there's no use crying over spilt milk. Look closely and you'll also spot visual approximations of the sayings to swim upstream and move like your rear-end is on fire.

If you don't speak Dutch, finding all 100 proverbs in the painting will be extra challenging. Click here to start hunting, and when you're ready to give up, watch the video below, which identifies and decodes each proverb.

[h/t My Modern Met]

A version of this story ran in 2018; it has been updated for 2022.