'Back to the future?': Painting from 1860 showing woman 'holding an iPhone' leaves internet puzzled

'Back to the future?': Painting from 1860 showing woman 'holding an iPhone' leaves internet puzzled
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller's 1860 painting'The Expected One' has gained attention for showing a woman supposedly holding an iPhone (Hajotthu/Wikimedia Commons)

Every day internet seems to find something new to obsess over. Currently, a painting from 1860 has been going viral because a woman in it appears to be holding an iPhone. The 162-year-old painting is called, 'The Expected One' by 19th-century Austrian artist Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. The painting shows a woman right at the center walking down a path, unaware of what's coming around. The painting also shows a man with rosy cheeks waiting in the bushes with a pink flower. 

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This is not the first time that the century-old painting has raised eyebrows. The artwork sent the world into a frenzy in 2017 as well. Peter Russell, a retired local Glasgow government officer, and his partner saw the painting for the first time at a translator's conference. They were strolling through the Neue Pinakothek museum when they saw it, which intrigued them to learn more about it. A year later, he talked about "the importance of context," to Motherboard

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The woman at the center is engrossed in an object in her hands which compels her to lose focus of what's coming next (the man with the pink flower). According to the modern world, the way the woman holds the object resembles how the masses walk around while being absorbed in their smartphones. Since Apple launched iPhone in 2007, this internet theory is almost impossible, and to clarify the misconception, "The girl in this Waldmüller painting is not playing with her new iPhone X, but is off to church holding a little prayer book in her hands," said Gerald Weinpolter, CEO of the art agency austrian-paintings.at. 

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Russell constructed his "importance of context" theory further and said, "What strikes me most is how much a change in technology has changed the interpretation of the painting, and in a way has leveraged its entire context," With netizens assuming that the woman in the painting is, in fact, holding an iPhone, it becomes clear that Russell was right after all. "The big change is that in 1850 or 1860, every single viewer would have identified the item that the girl is absorbed in as a hymnal or prayer book. Today, no one could fail to see the resemblance to the scene of a teenage girl absorbed in social media on their smartphone," he said.

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