It’s a staple in many great horror movies … the haunted painting – perhaps of a mysterious ancestor – whose eyes follow one around or whose face changes expressions or, if it’s a horror comedy, whose eyes have holes in the them so the real villain can peer through at unsuspecting victims who, unlike everyone watching the movie, can’t see the holes. A painting put up for auction in New Zealand recently based its value on the idea that it is haunted and, no surprise here, someone bought it. Are they insane, clueless or looking to write a new horror screenplay?
“Purchased in Pauanui at Antique shop, suspect it is haunted, not cursed but suspect something came into the house with it. Fell off the wall one night, and another night a shadowy figure was cast (moving) from the upstairs room window where painting is hung (no one in room) investigated and my own shadow was cast onto the driveway when I looked out the window....creepy....partner asleep and no one else in house. Selling as it's just too creepy to have. Great for someone who is interested in the paranormal.”
Someone WAS interested in this painting, called “Haunted Painting - Soul Bowl (Acrylic)” on its TradeMe.com listing, and won the auction yesterday with a final bid of $150. Perhaps it could have gone for more if the seller had taken a little more time and photographed the painting in a nicer setting – it was shown leaning against a car’s bumper in a garage and one picture included a set of bare feet. An inscription on the side reads “Soul is a bowl” but no explanation is given or speculated. In the comments and FAQs, the seller says the artist’s name is Jill and is possibly local. (photos here)
Why would anyone want to own a haunted painting? Perhaps for the notoriety. One considered by many to be the most famous haunted painting in history is “The Hands Resist Him” by Bill Stoneham. Painted in 1972, it depicts a young boy staring straight ahead and a scary-looking female doll standing in front of a glass door with many hands pressed against it. It was first sold by an art gallery in 1974 and it’s said that the owner of the gallery, the buyer and an art critic who had written about it were all dead within a year. It was put up for auction on eBay in 2000 and sold for $1,025.00 and at that time Bill Stoneham said he wasn’t aware of its haunting or any reasons for it.
Another famous haunted painting, this time by an equally famous painter, is “The Dead Mother” by Edvard Munch, better known for “The Scream.” However, it’s “the Dead Mother” that allegedly makes viewers scream, or at least shiver. It was painted after Munch’s own mother died of tuberculosis and its said that the little girl’s eyes follow you around (not bad) and the sheets are heard to rustle (OK, that’s scary).
One whose haunted tale resembles that of the Soul Bowl is the portrait of Samantha Houston which hangs in the Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas, and portrays the daughter of a U.S. Senator who fell to her death while staying at the hotel. Staring at the painting is said to make viewers dizzy, see Samantha’s face change and feel like they’re falling down a flight of stairs. Samantha's ghost has also been seen or felt in the halls. Some experts now claim the painting is actually a replica of a work entitled “Love Letters’ by Charles Trevor Garland, but that doesn't explain the paranormal occurrences.
Where will the Soul bowl painting end up? Who knows? Will it continue to haunt its new owner or seller? Watch TradeMe and eBay for future sales.
By the way ... if the spirit haunting the painting is listening, I am not an art critic.