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Certain works of art are so classic that they've become iconic. As such, they are frequently exploited for symbolic or comedic effect. The Pieta, for example, is such a powerful image that it warrants its own page. So is Rodin's Thinker Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and the Tableau from The Last Supper, and Grant Wood's American Gothic.

Other images celebrated in media include , James McNeil Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother (aka Whistler's Mother), Edvard Munch's The Scream, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, and Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory. Many other classic paintings and sculptures have found their way into popular media.

So frequently are these images exploited that people who may have never seen the original works still recognize the images.

Specific Subtropes Include: Pieta Plagiarism, Thinker Pose, Mona Lisa Smile, American Gothic Couple, Last Supper Steal, Hopper Shot, The Scream,

Examples of Art Imitates Art include:

Anime and Manga

  • Manga artist Suehiro Maruo loves integrating elements of famous paintings into his compositions. Examples: The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, Hope by George Frederic Watts, The Plague by Arnold Boeckin, and (NSFW)The Guitar Lesson by Balthus.
  • The opening and closing credits for Elfen Lied take an immense cue from the works of Gustav Klimt, to the point of inserting the five mains into a Klimt-like painting.


  • The last panel of Valerian's adventure "On the False Earths" references Luncheon of the Boating Party, a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
  • Edward Hopper's Night Hawks, that painting of some folks in a diner late at night, has been used a whole lot. It showed up in an early issue of The Tick and became the heroes' hangout in the animated series.
  • Goscinny and Uderzo have a running gag in the Asterix books, in that every time the pirates have their ship sunk (by the Gauls, or to escape from the Gauls), they wind up recreating The Raft of the Medusa.
    • There are also recreations of other famous paintings scattered throughout the books, like The Peasant Wedding in Asterix in Belgium.
  • A page in 2012's Swamp Thing #4 references The Runaway by Norman Rockwell.


  • This trope is used in the chase scene of the second Looney Tunes live-action movie. Especially effective since the characters are running through an art museum.
  • In John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), at the end of the trial scene, young Abe (Henry Fonda) is seen sitting in a chair, his head bowed in thought, in the exact posture of the Daniel Chester French statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
  • Similarly, the Venus de Milo is frequently used, usually in period pieces where the whole statue is shown and then the arms are "accidentally" broken off. Used in Disney's Hercules at least.
  • The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli was used in The Simpsons, when Homer is fantasizing about Mindy.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen features Venus herself, appearing like in the Botticelli painting.
  • One scene in Italian horror movie La chiesa (The Church, 1989, writen by Dario Argento and directed by Michele Soavi) is taken directly from a Boris Vallejo painting "Vampire's Kiss". Also, the design for the lizard-demon-gargoyle creature is taken from a infamous 1600s wood-carving depicting a man selling his soul to the devil.


  • Quite a bit of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand seems to be about this.
  • Discworld artist Paul Kidby loves these. So far he's done Wright's Experiment With Air-Pump (The Science of Discworld cover); Rembrandt's The Night Watch (er, Night Watch cover); Raising The Flag on Iwo Jima (Monstrous Regiment cover); Mona Lisa (Leonard of Quirm's "The Mona Ogg", Art of Discworld' cover); The Thinker (Detritus as "Da Finker" in The Art of Discworld); Holman Hunt's The Hireling Shepherd (Leonard and Gytha again in The Art of Discworld); American Gothic (Death and Miss Flitworth in The Art of Discworld); Parrish's The Pied Piper (Maurice and Keith for The Discworld Calendar 2003); and others.
    • The Last Hero alone includes the final scene of Conan the Barbarian (Cohen in the frontispiece); the Bayeaux Tapestry (the Silver Horde in the other frontispeice); Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (Leonard's design for a NASA-style training centrifuge); Munch's The Scream (Rincewind's reaction to the elephants); Wright's Philosopher at the Orrery (the wizards plotting the route of the Kite); the Sistine Chapel (Cohen giving the finger to the gods) and probably more.
    • In The Illustrated Wee Free Men Stephen Player does a couple of pictures based on Richard Dadd's The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke. Since the scene in the book is specifically stated in the Author's Note to be based on that painting.
      • Which brings up a musical example. Queen have a song called The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, which strongly resembles the painting.

Live Action Television

  • In Cycle 5 of America's Next Top Model, when there were five contestants left, the challenge was to for each 'recreate' a classic work of art, being "Mona Lisa," "Whistler's Mother," "The Vitruvian Man," "The Birth of Venus," and "Girl with a Pearl Earring."
  • In the ad campaign for Nip Tuck, women getting plastic surgery are positioned to resemble classical works, including Venus de Milo.
  • The Kermitage Collection is a collection of famous paintings redone to star The Muppets, including The Mona Moi (Piggy), Whistler's Weirdo (Gonzo), The Birth of You-Know-Who (Piggy again), American Gothique (Piggy and Kermit), Jester At The Court of Henry VIII (Fozzie) and so on...
  • The painting of 19th Century Tavern-Goers used in the opening of Cheers at least tried to match up imagery of the patrons with characters on the show as the actor credits flashed by.
  • The Silence in Doctor Who look incredibly like Edvard Munch's The Scream; Word of God says the in-universe explanation for this is that they've been subconsciously influencing our art and culture for centuries.


  • The final scene of 1776 is intended to be blocked so that the final positions of all the actors at the curtain calls to mind the Savage/Pine engraving of the Signing, although it's rarely exact.
  • The first act of Stephen Sondheim 's Sunday in The Park With George ends with a live recreation of the famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” It is intensely impressive!

Video Games

  • In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, there is a Desingeograph of the "Vitruvian Pirate", which Guybrush calls "Pirate Da Vinci", on the Illuminopictoscreen; this "Vitruvian Pirate" is definitely a spoof of Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci.
    • In Chapter 4, the provocative painting of Chieftain Beluga hanging above W.P. Grindstump in Club 41 is most likely a parody of the 1636 painting Danaë by Rembrandt.

Web Comics

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