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Here's Why People Think This Photo Of Two People Passed Out Looks Like A Painting

We asked, you answered.

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On Friday, BuzzFeed News published a story about this picture of Josiah and Stef, a couple from Portland, Oregon, that looks remarkably like some sort of Renaissance artwork.

one night stef and i got shit faced and passed out on the couch đź’›

The photo was tweeted out last week and has gone massively viral since. We wanted to know what it was that made the photo so wonderful, so we asked you. Here are the responses:

Chloe Dorgan, an art teacher in Thousand Oaks, California, and graduate from the painting department at Rhode Island School of Design said that the lighting in the picture is definitely in keeping with the types of lighting from the Renaissance era.

Giuseppe Cacace / AFP / Getty Images

This type of lighting is called chiaroscuro and was used prominently by Caravaggio during the Baroque period. Chiaroscuro is when the artist focuses on the contrast between deep shadows and bright lights, in turn illuminating a part of the model's body and emphasising its lines.

"This has the effect of giving the scene a dramatic feel," said Dorgan. "In addition, this photo has a lot of skin, which is typical of the Renaissance period paintings."

There's also a cross of gaze created in the picture, with one face towards the light and one pointing away. "One [body] is curved inward," said Dorgan, "almost caught in action, while the other is languid. All of these parts give the picture a dynamic push and pull between our two figures."

Caitlin Clay, currently pursuing a masters degree in art history, discussed the picture with her boyfriend who is also pursuing a masters in painting. They also thought the lighting was an important feature in the shot.

Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty Images

Lying around scantily clad was a Big Deal during the Renaissance period, said Clay, and so was having blonde hair, which was a beauty ideal during the Renaissance period. "That's why you have so many blonde Venuses," she said.

Dylan Garcia, a student at New York University, said the painting's "cool moody vibes" can be attributed to lighting, and hinted at a more religious reading of the shot.


"Often times light was used to symbolise a religious/god-like presence amongst darkness," said Garcia.

"Because the photo you looked at has a light source coming from the top right side, it resembles a light coming from heaven in my opinion."

Garcia compared the photo to Michelangelo's classic in the Sistine Chapel, "reaching to God but a little relaxed."

"A lot of artists used a posture where the subject is lying down, looking relaxed, but his muscled are still defined as a sign of power. In the twitter photo, the male looks relaxed obviously, but his pecks and abs are still defined," he said.

So, there you go. These are just a few reasons this photo of two people passed out drunk is so captivating. Learning is fun!

Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at

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