The Crying Boy

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The artist's signature G Bragolin is present in the top-right corner

The Crying Boy is a mass-produced print of a painting by Italian painter Giovanni Bragolin.[1] It was widely distributed from the 1950s onwards.

There are numerous alternative versions, all portraits of tearful young boys or girls.[1] In addition to being widely known, certain urban legends attribute a 'curse' to the painting.


On 5 September 1985, the British tabloid newspaper The Sun reported that an Essex firefighter claimed that undamaged copies of the painting were frequently found amidst the ruins of burned houses.[1] By the end of November, belief in the painting's curse was widespread enough that The Sun was organising mass bonfires of the paintings, sent in by readers.[2]

Steve Punt, a British writer and comedian, investigated the curse of the crying boy in a BBC Radio 4 production called Punt PI. Although the format of the programmes are comic in nature, Punt researched the history of the Crying Boy painting.[3] The conclusion reached by the programme, following testing at the Building Research Establishment, is that the prints were treated with a varnish containing fire retardant, and that the string holding the painting to the wall would be the first to deteriorate, resulting in the painting landing face down on the floor and thus being protected, although no explanation was given as to why no other paintings were turning up unscathed. The picture was also mentioned in an episode about curses in the TV series Weird or What? (Season 3 Episode 4) in 2012.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Polidoro, Massimo (November/December 2012), "Curse That Painting!", Skeptical Inquirer 36 (6): 17–19
  2. ^ Steve Punt, "Solved: Curse of the Crying Boy; Comic’s Obsession with Painting", The Sun, 9 October 2010, p.8.
  3. ^ Punt PI, Crying Boy episode (programme broadcast Sat 9 Oct 2010, BBC Radio 4)
  4. ^ Curses in Weird or What? on SyFy