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The Menino Chorao
echo_profile_ybnby.jpg menino_chorao.jpg
Long-time stalker reader Leonardo Carvalho mentioned, casually, over lunch a few days ago that the picture of me above had a strong resemblance to the "Menino Chorao." Since I don't speak Portugese, Mr. Carvalho was nice enough to give me a bit of background on the painting. Legend has it that the kid is portrayed being eaten by the Devil. Further:

1. Those who own it can--if they wish so--make a deal with the devil at midnight;
2. The picture is said to bring disasters and bad luck to the house;
3. Familiars of owners are said to die mysteriously, which is blamed on the picture;
4. The curse can only be broken with a ritual that includes burning it.

So thanks Leonardo for freaking the crap out of me, insisting that I look like I'm being gnawed on my the Devil, and cursing me to an eternity of horrors.

UPDATE: Leonardo was nice enough to do some serious research on the subject. Continue reading for his background on this strange and fascinating painting.

There are lots and lots of legends behind the crying boys pictures, and it has started long ago. The one I heard when I was 9 or 10 y.o. is that a painter called Giovanni Bragolin (birth name Bruno Amadio) had been working his ass to the bones without success. No vernissages, no sales, no nothing. When he was in complete desperation, he made a satanic ritual and traded with the Devil himself in order to succeed in his works. The Devil told him to paint 27 portraits of kids, crying and include him in the picture. Not so explicit that anyone could see, but somehow disguised in a manner only the two of them would be aware of his presence.

This picture is said to be the first one. Legend has it that the kid was an orphan, and years after he was painted the orphanage where he lived was set on fire and he was the sole survivor of the tragedy--others say he died in the fire and his soul was kept imprisoned in the painting.

What wasn't the surprise when just a few days after the orphanage's fire the painter's studio also burned to the ground and the boy's portrait was the only thing that wasn't affected by the fire.

Since then, the painting has been reproduced in many countries through the years, but the curse didn't stay attached to the original, it accompanies all the copies sold. There are reports of houses being totaled by the fire--since the 1950's--and the painting is the only thing that remained intact.

Facts about the painting:

- If you look at it you have the feeling that he's looking right INTO you, and his eyes follow you anywhere you go around the painting.
- If you own a copy of the painting, you can make a deal with the Devil. You just need to wait until midnight, stare at the boys eyes and invite the evil master to your home.
- You can own the picture and be free of the curse. Of course this will only happen if you're not aware of the curse.
- This kid is really bad. When he's sick and tired of being hung on your wall he escapes the frame, go to each one's bedroom and scare the poor souls to the death, sets the house on fire and then returns to his framed prison.
- If you turn the picture 90° clockwise you can "easily" see that his coat isn't really a coat, but the Devil eating the boy alive, saving his head for the last bite.
- The only way to get rid of the curse is burning the painting... but wait. Isn't that a painting that is ALWAYS found untouched by the fire? Damn.

A few more legends for the curse of the boy's picture:
1. Franchot Seville, a famous and rich painter, heard that there was a homeless boy who just wandered around crying and never spoke a word. Rumor had it that his house burned and his parents died on the fire. Since then, houses burned in every town he had been to. Seville then decided to paint the boy's portrait, although the local priest tried to move him from this idea, he didn't listen and went ahead. As the painting was finished, his studio was set on fire and he blamed the kid for that. The kid was scared and ran away, and died when a car hit him. His soul moved into the painting and the curse begins...
2. One day, while driving in the coutryside, Giovanni Bragolin saw a Gypsy boy crying by the road. Not knowing why he did that, he took the boy to his studio and painted his portrait. A week later a fire consumed his studio, mysteriously leaving intact only the painting.
3. Bragolin had a deal with the Devil, and offered him the portrayed kids' souls in exchange of success and fame. With the kids death their souls attached to the painting, and then fire, only the painting survives, all the same. The difference in this version is that if you want to get rid of the curse and release the poor kid's soul you have to throw the painting on a river.

In these two links there's more.
I'm gonna take a good look at this first one tonight, to try and find some oddities worth being related. http://www.messybeast.com/dragonqueen/cryingboy.htm This one is more about how the The Sun spread the word through the British Islands and some facts that happened there: http://www.forteantimes.com/features/articles/1308/the_curse_of_the_crying_boy.html

For a better view of the Devil eating the child, check out this adjusted version of the painting:
crying boy copy.jpg
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2 Comments

This is quite intriguing… I’ve known about this painting all of my life and I’d never heard about the urban legend (in Portugal we call him ‘Menino da Lágrima’, not ‘Menino Chorão’. It means basically the same thing, ‘The Tear Drop Boy’ as opposed to ‘The Crybaby Boy’). What I know is that this is still sold in free markets all over, and it’s the ultimate tacky/kitsch item to have – which isn’t exactly a good thing. It’s quite an icon, so much so that Coca Cola recently launched an advertising campaign where they would swap the tackiest item you could find for a Coke (here’s a video with subs - h ttp://vimeo.com/groups/18638/videos/7180482). Over the years this painting has turned into the definition of bad taste and it could only be worse if it was done in velvet…

said palmieres on February 22, 2010 7:44 AM.

"Over the years this painting has turned into the definition of bad taste and it could only be worse if it was done in velvet…"

So think about people who had left it hanging on the kitchen's wall, collecting all the fumes, smoke and suspended deep-fry fat over the years... I've seen it. Creepier than knowing it's a damned painting.

said Leonardo Carvalho on February 22, 2010 12:01 PM.
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