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Art Psychology

The Anguished Man

A scene taken straight out of a 1980’s horror film, The Anguished Man is a very interesting painting with a fluff of a horror story behind it. If you believe in specters and spirits, you might love the old wives’ tale behind the horrifically beautiful self portrait. If you don’t, you should at least be interested with the emotions that were poured into the piece itself.

According to the tale, the artist who created The Anguished Man was a…lets just put it as a disturbed individual. Someone who mixed their own blood in with the oil when painting the piece and then committed suicide immediately after completing it, if you wish to know how disturbed. The Anguished Man, however, is more than that. It’s a beautifully horrific painting with an unproven backstory with, like everything on the internet these days, a god damned “cursed” theory.

Anguished Man

Sean Robinson, the owner of The Anguished Man, claims he inherited the painting from his grandmother — who had kept it locked away in her attic  (or basement, or cellar, depending on what version of the internet version of the story you read) for over twenty-five years. It had apparently been an unwanted gift from a friend of hers. No evidence has proven it, and no names or details have been given for the backstory. According to Sean, however, her grandmother had stowed it away in fear of it. She insisted on calling it evil, claiming that a dark figure had lurked through her house ever since she received it 25 years prior and that strange noises emanated from it.

I propose a question to the so-called deceased grandmother, then: why not throw it out? If it was an unwanted gift to begin with, why on Earth would you keep it for 25 years? I mean, I’ve been given toaster ovens that I didn’t want that didn’t last within my house for more than two days, yet this painting from Hell could be kept in your house for over two decades despite it scaring the living shit out of you?

Sean Robinson was apparently a skeptic as well. He didn’t want to believe his grandmother’s story, and he moved it into his own home after his grandmother’s demise. He stored it in his own basement or attic or cellar before water damage forced him to move it. Despite some protests from his wife, who found the painting mysterious and dangerous, Sean hung it up on the third floor of his house: within an unused guest bedroom. If the painting is basically unwanted and scares the Hell out of your wife, why would you let something that could get rid of it for you like water damage make you move it to somewhere safe?

But, of course, Sean was apparently a skeptic. Maybe he, like me, was interested in the picture. I’m not going to even life, if I had a painting like The Anguished Man, I would hang it up in my office immediately. If the story behind it is true, which it may or may not be, the emotions resting within the frame would be everlasting. Honestly, to break it down, I do believe whoever painted the picture had to have been disturbed. I do believe that someone would have been mentally scattered enough to mix their own blood with a horrific image. And, just thinking of it, could you imagine the amount of pure emotion that would be locked away within it?

For example; I love old books with a passion. One of my favorite “antique” books that I own would have to be an anatomy textbook that was printed in 1931. There are pages upon pages of handwritten notes dated in 1933, by a man who wrote his name, address, and phone number (it starts with Roosevelt, really cool! The use of telephone numbers instead of subscriber names to indicate to the telephone operator what destination line) on the front cover. From my research, the man was studying to become a nurse of some sort. He died in 1934. So, think about it. I have notes that very well may be the last thing that mattered to this man. The very last material possessions that were literally created by someone who no longer exists. 

Think about the mere emotional aspects that belong to The Anguished Man if the historical origin of the real painting gone fake viral is true! Of course, with stories concerning the supernatural paranormal we always see the destruction of realistic stories as “creepy-pastas” replace it with unrealistic movie plots. But, for the sake of saying the ORIGINS of the painting are true with the “paranormal” bullshit being fake, I would definitely hang up The Anguished Man in my office.

The idea that this painting very well be the very last scattered thoughts of a human being. The idea that this self-image of anguishing terror and destructive hatred — the disturbed and depressed imagery that soaked this supposed unnamed artists mind — might be someone’s very last. The idea that this picture speaks the words of someone who couldn’t get help. That speaks novels to me. But, I understand the portrait is an internet’s tale. Wonderful fiction which may be taken from a realistic foundation that speaks a horrific tale at best.

But, regardless. The Robinson couple states that they heard strange noises coming from the painting — from a man crying in agony to wails of terror. Sean later described it as “coming from the corner of the room” and that they started “seeing the dark figure [once described by my grandmother] staring at [them] from the bottom of the bed.” He also claims that the so-called figure seems to be a middle-aged man with unclear features.

Is it possible that the last troubled thoughts of a disturbed artist resides within The Anguished Man? Or did anxiety and paranoia finally get to the skeptic and his wife, who stated she didn’t like it from the beginning? Well: let me break it to you. It’s a hoax. At least, all evidence points to it.

No one knows the name of the “tormented” artist who created the The Anguished Man. We don’t have conformation that the painting was even given to his grandmother, or that Sean Robinson inherited it from his grandmother. I really want the story to be real, despite that sounding morbid. Is it bad to want to say that there was an artist that finally managed to captivate his words in a way that could be remembered through horrifically beautiful art? We’ve heard of writers who committed suicide after finishing their art, and we’ve heard stories of artists going through periods of depression creation. This would be a very interesting layer on those stories, and that would make the art priceless in terms of human emotion.

He also uploaded a couple of YouTube videos: all of which, despite leading him to internet fame, look obviously and increasingly fake with each time you watch. You can watch them here, here, here, here and here if you are interested. He’s also “updated” fans of the picture as late at February of this year.

Not to mention it’s recently been announced that The Anguished Man is becoming a movie. Sean Robinson must be cashing out right now, and his story has given him relative fame in that paranormal corner of the internet. Based on this “true” story, the story movie “Anguished” will tell the story of an English man who inherits a weird painting locked away in an attic. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen movies made off of the stories of other so-called “haunted” objects. In 2012, a movie by the name of “The Possession” told the story of the Dybbuk Box, grossing more than $78 million. In 2014, a movie called “Annabelle” described the tale of the haunted Annabelle Doll, grossing $256 million.



I’m a writer and historian. Simple enough, right? I enjoy philosophy, sociology, social psychology, politics, basic programming, statistics, and old books. Unlike the stereotypical leftist, I do not necessarily censor myself. I apologize in advance if you find yourself offended by something I’ve said; but I do enjoy hearing criticism and having debates.

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Joseph Kaminski
I’m a writer and historian. Simple enough, right? I enjoy philosophy, sociology, social psychology, politics, basic programming, statistics, and old books.


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