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The Crying Boy
I have written about curses before and they are certainly something that continue to interest people.
Rumours of this curse seem to have originated in 1985 when the Sun newspaper (tempted to put newspaper in inverted commas there) reported that a firefighter from Essex claimed that paintings of The Crying Boy by Giovanni Bragolin were frequently found undamaged in the ruins of burned out buildings. This supposedly meant that firefighters refused to have the print in their own homes.
Numerous people seemed to come forward following this article, including Ron and Mary Hall of South Yorkshire, Janet Wyatt (Isle of Wight) and Linda Fleming (Leeds). All claimed they had either experienced fires involving the painting (left undamaged), or had tried to destroy the painting (and failed).
The most logical conclusion here is that the painting is coated in some kind of fire retardant material which preserves it during fires. However, you could also argue that surely this would also apply to other paintings involved in house fires that don’t survive the blaze and it doesn’t seem to be fire retardant in the YouTube video at the end of this article.
Supposedly if you hang a picture of a crying girl by Bragolin beside the crying boy then you will either be fire free, or experience an even worse house fire. So clearly the crying boy is either a lonely pyromaniac who just needs the love of a good woman, or a pyromaniac who also has social issues.
I’m unsure if all of the paintings by Bragolin are cursed, or there are particular prints that cause issues. He painted upwards of 65 paintings of crying children, so maybe just boycott the artist if you feel nervous. There are also reports that other artists have similarly cursed paintings and you can read about some of those here.
If you would like to read more about the Bragolin curse in particular then I can recommend this excellent post by messybeast.
So is it true? Who knows. People who have sadly lost their homes in terrible fires want something or someone to blame for their misfortune, that is human nature. The key point of the curse is supposed to be that you are at more risk from it once you know about it. People often try to find some sort of sense in tragedy, because understanding is the key to banishing the terrifying unknown. It is always nice to have a scapegoat and furthermore, to feel as though through doing something, like getting rid of a painting for example, you are averting some future tragedy that might otherwise be out of your control.
To me it is often scarier imagining what is out there in the darkness than in confronting it. More often than not we find a purely logical explanation for the demonic howling outside the window at 3am (extended happy hours or amateur karaoke are the most common causes around here). But there is always that more primitive side of your brain that whispers, what if.
I decided to write this post after walking past a charity shop window the other day and seeing a large picture of a crying boy in the window. I remembered reading about this years ago and it made me wonder about the history of the painting I had seen. Was it one by Bragolin, or are crying children just amazing muses? The good news is that it didn’t seem horribly charred, so maybe it was just that crying children didn’t really evoke the sort of warm, non depressing atmosphere the donator goes for in their interior decor. I like to think of myself as a skeptic most of the time (although I do have this yearning for there to be something more, hence this blog) but I find it interesting that I don’t think I would hang a painting by Bragolin in my home. Would you?