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Tabloid Art History Discovers What Beyoncé and Botticelli Have in Common

In the ultimate meta marriage of high brow-low brow, a clever Twitter account finds art classics imitating life, imitating art.

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”

Oscar Wilde stated this in his essay “The Decay of Lying,” and that one-liner rings true when scrolling through the tounge-in-cheek Twitter account Tabloid Art History.

The U.K. team behind the delightfully clever posts—Elise Bell, Chloe Esslemont, and Mayanne Soret—not surprisingly, comes from an art background. Soret is an art-history graduate who works for the National Galleries of Scotland and Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery. Bell studied history of art, and has also done a TedX talk on the subject. Esslemont is an English Lit student who paints and draws.

“Elise [and I] always end up talking about art history and/of pop culture when we’re together, so it’s definitely always on our minds when we’re together,” Esslemont said.

“The genesis of the account was that we saw a picture of Lindsay Lohan being compared to a Bernini sculpture that had been doing the rounds,” said Esslemont. The women started sending each other their own comparisons, and voilà, a beautiful Twitter feed is born.

“I think the first one I did was the Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajowski/Gabrielle d’Estrees and One of Her Sisters. I love that painting because it’s so unusual, and I find the story behind it really interesting. (It’s Gabrielle and her sister announcing that Gabrielle is pregnant with the king’s son; the nipple pinching is meant to indicate this, as are the servants making a layette for the baby in the background. Gabrielle holds the king’s ring in her hand, which announces the paternity of the child.)

Esslemont added. “And I love that picture of Kim and Emily—they both frequently get body-shamed and shamed for their nudity, and so to see them be so unabashed and unashamed about their bodies together is great.”

Fans of Tabloid Art History can look forward to a print version soon—TAH Vol. 1. “We produced a zine in April, with contributions from lots of amazing writers and illustrators,” Esslemont said. “We’re finalizing our revamp of that and hope to be able to sell them soon—we won’t be making any profit from the zine. The money we’ll charge for it will purely be to recoup printing/postage costs."