Is this 16th century optical illusion the darkest ever?

Two men posing in 16th century surroundings
(Image credit: National Gallery / Public domain)

We're big fans of mind-bending optical illusions in art. But while it's entertaining having your brain scrambled, they're usually just a bit of fun. Here's a 16th-century optical illusion, though, that goes beyond just being a clever trick, and offers a more profound reflection on life.

The illusion appears in 'The Ambassadors' (shown above), painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1533, which memorialises Jean de Dinteville, French ambassador to England, and his friend, Georges de Selve. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.