Brow Beat

Did You See This? The Simpsons Imitates Art

Simpsons / Norman Rockwell
Two side-by-side comparisons of Simpsons stills and a Norman Rockwell painting.

Simpsons stills © 2011 FOX BROADCASTING

Over the course of its 23 seasons, The Simpsons has assembled quite a portfolio of allusions to fine art. French fan site The Simpsons Park compiled dozens of stills of these moments—from borrowed compositions to classic oils rendered by Matt Groening’s hand—and  set them beside the paintings that inspired them.

Which artists are the writers’ and animators’ favorites? Early episodes allude to French Impressionists like Monet and Manet, but later references skew towards Americana (esp. the work of Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol) and Leonardo Da Vinci. The Last Supper alone makes a whopping 6 appearances, both in the form of paintings within the show and through compositional homage. (Of course, The Simpsons’ creators are far from the first to pay tribute to the painting.) Other allusions are remarkably subtle—allusions I haven’t caught even though I’ve seen the episode a half a dozen times.

It’s always exciting to see Simpsons creators reveal their inspirations. A few months back The Atlantic assembled a catalog of The Simpsons’ many literary references, including shout outs to everything from Thomas Pynchon to Walt Whitman. Of course, Rockwell and Whitman and The Simpsons all have something in common—they’re all American classics.
For the complete gallery, head over to The Simpsons Park. [Via The Short List.]