'Banksie Tagging A Wall' by Nicholas Poussin

Poussin's great work of 1643 depicts Banksie, a contemporary graffiti artist, defacing a small wall near Rome.

Banksie is carefully carving a rat skull into the stone. Beneath this skull, he engraves his famous catchphrase, Et In Arcadia Ego, which can be roughly translated as "Exit Through The Gift Shop."

Unfortunately, there weren't any gift shops in Rome in the seventeenth-century, so nobody coming across the graffito understood the irony implicit in Banksie's catchphrase, or even knew what it meant.

This is why it would take another three hundred years for graffiti to become a popular art form, and even today most graffiti artists try to avoid using words whenever possible.

Poussin, on the other hand, was a very popular artist of the period, receiving commissions to paint toga-clad ne'er-do-wells in gloomy rural surroundings from most of the crowned heads of Europe.

Poussin died a rich man. Alas, his work is now considered boring and old-fashioned, condemned to be hung in the least visited galleries in the museum. Banksie's work, however, is undergoing a great renaissance. The many walls he defaced have all been designated "heritage" sites by the Italian government. Many have even become famous Roman tourist attractions and, ironically, popular souvenirs of the city.

Thus does the wheel of fortune spin in the art world.

'A Casino In The Olden Days' by Thomas Cole

Pequot, Mohegan, and Wampanoag casinos were popular subjects of many Hudson River School painters. Cole's small canvas depicts The Windy Precipice casino in the White Mountains, where firewater drinking tribesmen played high stakes - literally - games of Blackjack, Poker, and a risky card game called Scalp The Loser.

Of course, gambling in the open air at high altitudes had one massive drawback: powerful mountain gales often blew the cards off the table before games could be finished. This is why modern casinos are luxurious, windproof towers of concrete and glass.

Aspiring artists can still apply to attend The Hudson River School. Students will be taught how to paint big rocks, huge clouds, long rivers, and heavenly light, with special emphasis on dawn and sunset. Fees are $60,000 per semester.

'Instagram Of My Dinner' by Paul Klee

Paul Klee's seminal Instagram Of My Dinner is one of the museum's most important works. A still life of leftover spaghetti in an unappetizing sauce, single pea, stunted carrot, and a meagre lemon wedge, the painting depicts a starving artist's typical evening meal. The artist is so poor he cannot even afford a plate and must eat his inadequate repast off a dirty table, possibly with his hands, as neither knife nor fork are shown.

Our organic, non-gluten, fully-plated interpretation of this famous meal is available at the museum cafe, Chez Forgerie, for $29.99 with mineral water and $39.99 with wine pairing.

'Wish You Were Here' by Canaletto

Son of a celebrity Italian surgeon, the artist Canaletto was named after the alimentary canal, a passage in the body that connects the mouth with the anus.

So it is somewhat ironic that Canaletto devoted his prodigious career to painting vistas of canals of the watery kind rather than studies of human anatomy for the medical profession. I guess he was lucky his father didn't name him Digestive-Tractatto.

Today, Canaletto is considered the father of the modern postcard (similar to those available in the museum shop). Rich patrons commissioned Canaletto to paint picturesque Venetian scenes, add a brief message of the back of the frame, and then send the canvasses to their friends in other parts of the world.

The example above, Wish You Were Here, a view of the Rialto bridge across the Grand Canal, has this message inscribed on its reverse in florid, scarlet ink: "Having a great time with all the ladies. Wish you were here. Love Casanova."

'The Infant Christ Rebukes His Neighbor For Operating A Table Saw Before Noon On The Sabbath' by John Everett Millais

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a nineteenth-century Cosplay meet-up who painted scenes from the Bible set in lush English vicarage gardens. They were also fond of Shakespearean women drowning in a river or drifting around aimlessly in boats.
Luxuriant hair was very important to the Pre-Raphaelites, especially luxuriant auburn hair cascading around the shoulders. Doomed lovers and Biblical figures with big hair appear in most of the Brotherhood's paintings, making The Infant Christ Rebuking His Neighbor For Operating A Table Saw Before Noon On The Sabbath particularly interesting as Millais' picture is only Pre-Raphaelite work to include a bald man.

'OMG!' by Edvard Munch

A precursor of the modern Emoji 'shocked' face, Munch's depiction of a man viewing his friend's embarrassing Facebook profile picture is one of the great works of European symbolism. Scholars still debate exactly which Instagram filter Munch employed for his crazy sky, but most agree the wavy contours and elongated figure were created using the WarpIt app.
Munch's disturbing addiction to social media is apparent in most of his work from this period, especially LOL and View From My Office Today, and electronic versions of both are available for download from our Online museum store for a small fee.
Ultimately, the artist's failure to establish a Twitter following during his lifetime led to feelings of insecurity and self-loathing and eventually Munch suffered a full mental breakdown. It is remarkable to consider that he was so unpopular back then, as his tribute site on Pinterest has over a million fans today.

'Hello!' by William-Adolphe Bougeureau

French academic painters like Bougeureau loved to personify concepts such as 'Dawn,' 'Twilight,' and 'Spring,' almost always as a young woman without any clothes on.
Why? Well, it's much easier to sell a painting of a naked lady floating around in front of the sea called Evening Mood than it is to sell a painting of just a moonlit bay without any nudity in it, also called Evening Mood (especially if your patron is some nineteenth-century Parisian sleazeball with more money than taste).
Considering how many French academic paintings of nude young women personifying something or other there are in the world - (the Catawampus Museum of Art alone owns over 4,000 such canvases) - there must have been a lot of very rich Parisian pervs running about in the nineteenth century, commissioning this painter or that sculptor to whip his model's clothes off and start personifying.
And no doubt other "collectors" came from as far away as Belgium to acquire some smutty piece of personification for their study walls.
But don't blame me for this exhibition of Gallic filth. I'm just the curator.