What’s really happening in ‘time travel’ 19th century painting with woman ‘holding an iPhone’?

Rob Waugh
Contributor
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It’s a pose all of us are familiar with: people hunched over, intently staring down at a smartphone even as they walk through the streets.

But it’s a little less familiar in the context of a 19th-century painting.

Spotting such ‘anachronisms’ has become a hobby for conspiracy theorists online, some of whom genuinely believe such paintings are evidence of time travel.

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But what’s really happening in this painting, ‘The Expected One’ by Austrian artist Ferdinand Georg Waldmüllerin painting at the Neue Pinakothek museum in Munich.

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Retired Glasgow local government worker Peter Russell highlighted the strange image in an interview with Motherboard – saying it showed how our interpretation was coloured by our views.

Russell said, ‘‘What strikes me most is how much a change in technology has changed the interpretation of the painting, and in a way has leveraged its entire context.

‘The big change is that in 1850 or 1860, every single viewer would have identified the item that the girl is absorbed in as a hymnal or prayer book.