Had the woman posing for Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa wandered off for a cuppa, leaving poor Leo sketching an empty background, it’d be hard to imagine the queues outside the Louvre snaking as they do today.
Backgrounds of paintings are backgrounds for a reason - they pale in significance to the subject, for it’s the foreground that is the key for most art lovers. Though, should we appreciate the backdrop of classic portraits more than we do?
On the basis of this brilliant ongoing series from Spanish artist José Manuel Ballester,removing all the people from a bevy of landmark works to reveal the scenes left behind, the answer is 'yes'. Yes we should.
Ranging from the oblong oddities of Pablo Picasso to self-referential Jan Vermeer, The Hidden Spaces series could very well make you appreciate the timeless beauty and minor details of landmark works. Or, as they did with us, they could just tickle you a bit.
After all, the new-look Last Supper does smack a little of Jesus getting word of a new branch of Nando’s having opened.