Enigmatic art: famous paintings that keep us guessing

The next DFASinMalta lecture takes a look at some cryptic canvases

Scholars have been puzzling over mysterious paintings such as Giorgione's 'Tempest' and Leonardo da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' for centuries. 

But more recently, artists have been deliberately creating realistic paintings in which the mood or meaning is far from clear. 

From Vermeer to Manet, Gauguin to De Chirico, Andre Wyeth to Balthus - the French artist who, rather fittingly, described himself as "a painter about whom nothing is known" - artists delight in imbuing their works with a sense of intrigue and mystery. 

Why do some paintings have these enigmatic qualities? Are there particular techniques that artists use to achieve them? And what do these paintings tell us about our world – and ourselves?

In this lecture organised by DFASinMalta, art expert James Russell will take a closer look at these questions and try to peel back some of the mystery surrounding enigmatic art. 

Mr Russell studied history at Pembroke College, Cambridge and spent a considerable amount of time selling contemporary art in New Mexico. He has published books about Eric Ravilious, Paul Nash, Peggy Angus, Edward Bawden and Edward Seago and has lectured across the UK. 

The lecture will be held on Thursday April 19 at 6.30pm at the Salini Resort. Entrance is free for DFASinMalta members, but booking is recommended. Non-members can reserve a ticket by emailing

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