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Why have paintings been watching us for centuries?


Famous paintings with eyes that follow you

Don’t you find it weird that the eyes of some portraits follow you! There are many famous paintings with eyes that follow you. These paintings have a ubiquitous gaze. These paintings are also known as “moving eyes painting.”


Do you feel these paintings are haunted? If yes, then you should read this article to clear your doubts! These paintings are not at all haunted. Just a simple technique has been implemented in creating these paintings.


The paintings that follow you are said to be having a Monalisa effect. The phenomena got this name from the famous Monalisa painting. The portrait of Monalisa is one of the famous paintings with eyes that follow you. It is said that Monalisa's gaze follows with you.


What is the Monalisa effect?

The Monalisa effect was first noticed thousands of years ago and was noticed by ancient Greeks and Romans. The development flourished due to a lack of perspective techniques. According to some experts, the Monalisa painting does not follow the Monalisa effect. The image might be very secretive, but it does not exhibit the Monalisa effect.


The Monalisa effect became popular after the introduction of the linear perspective technique. Filippo Brunelleschi discovered it in 1415. Many famous paintings with eyes that follow you use the linear perspective technique.


How does it work?

The linear perspective in a painting can be created through contrast, focus, lighting, shadowing, and the actual lines of paintings. Everything will pull your attraction towards the eyes of the portrait. Lighting and shadowing give the eyes depth and make them seem real. It feels like the picture is present in the room.


Making paintings look three-dimensional adds to the Monalisa effect. There are other techniques to create the Monalisa effect. We can identify that people are looking at us from two things. They are the retina of the eyes and the whites of the eyes. If we can look at these things, we identify that the person is looking at us.


In two-dimensional paintings, the gaze of the eyes is fixed. So, we can see the same amount of iris and the whites of the eyes when we are in front of the paintings. Our brains adjust and create an optical illusion while moving in front of the paintings.


Some experts even add a psychological aspect to it. The human desire to be seen by others is that aspect. According to a study, we have a want and a need to be seen by others. We desire to be the centre of attraction. These are reasons for the paintings having ubiquitous gaze.


The above methods are implemented on the famous paintings with eyes that follow you. This effect also works on photographs. However, the effect does not work in real life at all. In real life, as we move, we start losing the parts of the whites of the eyes.


So, the famous paintings with eyes that follow you are not haunted. They just exhibit the Monalisa effect. They have a ubiquitous gaze because of proper lighting and shadowing. So, the eyes are not following you. It is your eyes that are looking at them from a different perspective.