Funny Art History Memes Imagine Historical Generals Pointing Out the Nearest Toilet

The field of art history is seen as a serious pursuit—as it should be—but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it. Museum goers have already found clever ways to do this by creating funny museum Snapchats of paintings hanging on the wall.

Even academics are making light of works from long ago by completely reinterpreting what they mean. Oxford historian Jonathan Healey recently started a meme of his own on Twitter by reimagining a very popular stance seen in military portraiture. In many paintings, commanders are pictured pointing off in the distance, presumably towards their target. In Healey’s retelling, these figures are gesturing to something much more important—the nearest bathroom.

When framed in Healey’s silly point of view, the pictures of these esteemed historical figures will make you giggle like a little kid. Generals, admirals, and commanders like Napoleon and Sir Charles Saunders are no longer leading their troops towards great victory, but instead, they're scoping out the location of the loo. And considering there are now entire apps dedicated to finding a clean and convenient bathroom, we can’t blame them for this search.

Healey isn’t the only one who participated in one of the latest funny art history memes. Once he began tweeting about it, others joined in. See some of our favorites, below.

Jonathan Healey created one of the latest funny art history memes that reimagines portraits of military commanders.

While we'd assume that many of these men are gesturing towards their target, Healey has another idea…

… they are pointed towards the bathroom.

Other people got in on the childish fun, too…

… proving that while art history is a serious pursuit, it can be silly, too.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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