Put your art history skills to the ultimate test with 2 Truths and a Lie

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Stories December 14, 2016 Featured Image

The popular team building icebreaker, 2 Truths and A Lie, is one of our favorites. To play, individuals take turns presenting 3 statements about themselves, two of which are true and one of which is false. Everyone else then tries to guess which of the statements is a lie. The revelation of the truth often leads to the telling of a hilarious or crazy story, giving new insight into your coworkers and their personalities.

We love 2 Truths and A Lie so much that we decided to apply it to art! For the following paintings or statues, we’ll give you a description and three statements about the art – and we’re totally lying about one of them. You’ll have to guess which are true and where we’re trying to pull a fast one. (Answers revealed at the bottom.)

Perseus With the Head of Medusa Cellini


In this statue, Cellini depicts the Greek character Perseus victoriously holding up the head of Medusa. The piece was commissioned by Cosimo I de Medici and was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in 1554 where it remained for nearly 500 years. The piazza was home to other statues by Michelangelo, Donatello, and the like.

Do you know which of the following statements is false? 

  1. The statue is signed by Cellini on Perseus’s sash.
  2. The public square in which the statue is located is in Florence, Italy.
  3. If you view Perseus’s head from the back, his helmet and hair form the likeness of the face of Cosimo I de Medici, the statue’s commissioner.

The Garden of Earthly Delights Hieronymus Bosch


This triptych was painted by Bosch between the years 1490 and 1510 with oil on oak. It has been housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1939. The left panel of the piece depicts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the middle panel is a rich scene filled with all sorts of creatures, human and animal, engaged in various activities, and the third panel is a hellscape.

One of the following statements is untrue about The Garden of Earthly Delights:

  1. Historians typically interpret the painting as a warning against the consequences of life’s temptations.
  2. The painting pictures many unique instruments, many of which have been recreated and sound beautiful.
  3. A character in the hellscape has sheet music printed on his rear end.

David – Michelangelo


In what is perhaps the most famous statue in the world, Michelangelo depicts the biblical hero, David, poised to battle the giant, Goliath. The statue stands approximately 17 feet (5.17m) tall and is hewn from a single block of marble. The statue stood in a public square in Florence, Italy from 1504 until 1873 when it was taken inside the Accademia Gallery where it continues to attract many visitors.

Do you recognize the lie below?

  1. Michelangelo was the first sculptor to work on the block of marble that resulted in the statue of David.
  2. A replica of the statue was placed in the original public square in 1910.
  3. Medical doctors have examined the statue and are very impressed with the anatomical detail consistent with someone about to go to battle.

Adoration of the Magi – Giotto


Many great artists have painted an “adoration of the magi” scene – Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci have all painted a version of this famous biblical scene in which three magi follow a star and bring gifts to baby Jesus. This particular painting was done with tempera on wood by the Italian master Giotto di Bondone around 1320 A.D.

One of the following statements is a lie about the Adoration of the Magi:

  1. The Star of Bethlehem in the painting is likely based on Halley’s Comet which was likely visible during the time Giotto was painting this piece.
  2. NASA named an exploratory mission to Halley’s Comet ‘Giotto’ in the paintings honor.
  3. This was one of the first representations of a comet in art.

Declaration of Independence – John Trumball


This painting is one of the most iconic in American history. It was commissioned in 1817 and has been on display in the Capitol building in Washington D.C. for the nearly 200 years since. It is a 12 by 8 foot oil on canvas painting that features 42 of the 56 original signers of the Declaration of Independence.

One of the following statements is false about the Declaration of Independence:

  1. The painting depicts the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  2. The painting has been featured on the American $2 bill.
  3. The architectural features of Independence Hall (where the painting is set) are mostly inaccurate.

Special thanks to this list for inspiring and providing the crazy facts behind many of these famous paintings. We hope you learned a little bit about these awesome pieces of art. Now go forth and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge of obscure art trivia.


  1. C – if you view Perseus’s head from the back, you can indeed see a face, but scholars believe it is actually the likeness of Cellini himself.
  2. B – Many of these unique instruments (including a flute shown being played by someone’s buttocks) sound awful.
  3. A – Michelangelo was the third artist to work on the block of marble. Artists Agostino di Duccio and Antonio Rossellino began work on it but neither made much progress before abandoning the project.
  4. B – The European Space Agency named a mission Giotto.
  5. A – The painting actually depicts the drafting committee presenting the first draft of the document to John Hancock and the Continental Congress.


written with 💖 by Cody Nailor

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