The Curse of the Crying Boy Painting

Updated on March 27, 2018
anncarcat profile image

An Early Years Teacher from the UK, I have always had the urge to write. I enjoy producing articles about the paranormal and true crime.

Image supplied by Wikipedia
Image supplied by Wikipedia

When I was a young child in the seventies, I became fascinated by a painting in my grandmother’s house. The painting was a cheap print of a popular painting and hung on the living room wall of her small terraced house. The reason I was so fascinated was that the picture depicted a child. The boy was a similar age to me and for some reason looked sad and downcast, tears brimming from troubled eyes. I was so attached to the painting I even gave the sad child a name. A few years after the painting went up on the wall there was a devastating kitchen fire in the house. While the kitchen was destroyed, the rest of the house was undamaged. Despite this, the painting of the boy was removed and thrown into a skip along with the contents of the kitchen. For years it puzzled me why my grandmother did this until I read a series of articles about a cursed painting. That painting was ‘The Crying Boy’.


Image supplied by Massimo Polidoro
Image supplied by Massimo Polidoro

Giovanni Bragolin

‘The Crying Boy’ was one of a series of paintings by artist Giovanni Bragolin completed in the 1950s. The series depicted young teary-eyed children. While it may seem strange to want an image of a weeping child on your wall, the pictures proved popular all over the world. In the UK alone over 50,000 copies sold. The children represented were often poor and very beautiful. One boy's image particularly tugs on the heartstrings, his eyes a sad reflection of his soul. He became known as ‘The Crying Boy’. In total Bragolin painted over sixty paintings and up until the early eighties the prints and reprints of his images, continued to be mass produced.

The Blazing Curse is Born

In 1985 the most popular tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom, printed a story that was to cause panic and end the popularity of Bragolin’s work. ‘The Sun’ published an article entitled ‘Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy’. The story described the terrible experience of May and Ron Hall after their Rotherham home was destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire, much like my grandmother’s, was a chip pan that overheated and burst into flames. The fire spread rapidly and destroyed everything on the ground floor. Only one item remained intact, a print of ‘The Crying Boy’ on their living room wall. Distraught at their loss, the devastated couple made the bizarre claim that the painting was cursed and it, not the chip pan, was the cause of the fire.


A Child is Blamed

The tale would have disappeared into the archives of the strange and mischievous stories that peppered ‘The Sun’, except for one thing. A firefighter claimed that he had attended at least fifteen house fires where everything was destroyed. The only thing left complete in each home was the picture of ‘The Crying Boy’. Before long the story gathered momentum and a rash of fires all over the United Kingdom were blamed on the cursed child. In subsequent articles ‘The Sun’ went onto claim;


• A lady in Surrey lost her house to fire 6 months after buying the painting.

• Two sisters in Kilburn had fires in their homes after buying a copy of the painting. One sister even claimed to have seen her painting sway backwards and forwards on the wall.

• A concerned lady on the Isle of Wight attempted to burn her painting without success and then went on to suffer a run of bad luck.

• A gentleman in Nottingham lost his home and his family were injured.

• A pizza parlor in Norfolk was destroyed including every painting on its wall except for one.

When 'The Sun' reported that even rational firefighters refused to have a copy of 'The Crying Boy ' in their homes, the reputation of the painting was damned forever.


A Halloween Bonfire

In all these cases, and many more that were reported, the painting of ‘The Crying Boy’ remained unharmed. Eventually, if there was an image of a crying child by any artist in a house that went on fire, the painting was blamed. Some claimed that they experienced bad luck if they attempted to destroy or get rid of their paintings. Others were convinced that it was only a matter of time before disaster struck them. After printing more articles and scare stories, ‘The Sun’ offered a frightened public a solution. On Halloween 1985, hundreds of the paintings were collected together by the newspaper and burnt under the supervision of the Fire Brigade.

The Curse

So why would this seemingly innocent series of paintings be cursed? Before long speculation was rife. Theories ranged from the little boy being a gypsy child whose family placed a curse on the artist. Some claimed that the child had died in a fire and his spirit was trapped in the painting. The most enduring story claimed the crying boy accidentally set fire to the studio of the artist who had painted him. The child’s parents had also been killed in a blaze. Wherever the little orphan went fires mysteriously followed, earning him the nickname Diablo or Devil. The boy supposedly survived to early adulthood but was tragically killed when his car crashed and burst into flames. From then onwards it was his image that carried on his cursed fascination with fire.

Debunked

In a bid to debunk the stories that grew up around the painting of ‘The Crying Boy’ various experts offered their own theories. A frustrated Fire Brigade pointed out that in all cases where there had been fires, there was a rational explanation. The fires in almost all cases could be traced back to human carelessness or electrical faults. What they couldn’t explain was the evidence that the paintings often remained intact when everything around them was destroyed. In a 2010 video made by Steve Punt and available on YouTube, a painting of ‘The Crying Boy’ is set alight in a bid to decide the matter once and for all. By the time the fire burns out, the corner of the painting is scorched but it remains largely intact and the face remains untouched. Yet ‘The Sun’ who first published the story of ‘The Crying Boy’ had no trouble incinerating hundreds of copies. Possibly the simplest of explanations is that the picture is printed onto fire retardant materials. Quite simply, the manufacturer of the print created a fire-resistant product that became a victim of its own success. The debate continues.

Punt PI tries to burn cursed Crying Boy Painting

My grandmother was not a superstitious woman. Indeed, she went on to have another much worse fire some years later when her refrigerator overheated. Was she right then, to throw away her painting of my little friend because of unsubstantiated rumours? I think so. While there is probably a very rational explanation for the phenomenon of ‘The Crying Boy’ painting, where curses are concerned I believe it is better to be safe than sorry. Or is it? You decide.

Would you hang a painting of 'The Crying Boy' in your home?

See results

Questions & Answers

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Barbara Speiser 

      2 days ago

      I did a needlepoint of the boy crying and have it hanging on a wall next to the opening of my family room. During super storm Sandy a tree behind the family room fell and instead of hitting the house it went sideways hitting the corner of the house (very little damage)and totally destroying my deck and pool and hitting my neighbors house. It was a straight line from the tree to where the boy crying is hanging. To this day I believe that picture saved us from getting killed and totally destroying our house.

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      2 weeks ago from UK

      Succint

    • profile image

      colin troth 

      2 weeks ago

      utter cobblers

    • profile image

      jeet bswas 

      2 weeks ago

      i think its real story...

    • profile image

      Rebecca 

      2 weeks ago

      Your time on Ghost Adventures was very helpful I almost purchasesed this same picture out of sadness.. Glad I seen the show before I did . Keep on writing I love to read your stories

    • profile image

      Dush 

      5 weeks ago

      My Nanna has had this exact painting for the past 30 years +

      This can't be real. Really??

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      7 weeks ago from UK

      My grandmother did more or less the same thing. I think she felt ‘better safe than sorry’.

    • profile image

      Richard higgins 

      7 weeks ago

      My mum had the crying boy and his sister the fires a real we had 6 fires i rememer my mum goin to a big bon fire when i was a kid in the 80s my mum still talks about it some times but she dont have pics on her wall any more

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      3 months ago from UK

      I think you are right Glen. As I explained to somebody else, my grandmother lived through three severe fires and also lived on the most heavily bombed road in England during the war. She only owned the painting during the second fire but her attitude was ‘better safe than sorry’ so the painting was sent to the rubbish tip.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 months ago from Long Island, NY

      I found this story very interesting. I’m always curious to try to solve unexplained puzzles. After reading your article, I have to assume that the painting was done on a fire retardant canvas.

      However, that doesn’t explain how the print of a similar picture survived a kitchen fire — the one you talked about that you had when you were a child. Maybe all those prints were made on fire retardant paper too.

    • profile image

      crystal 

      3 months ago

      the crying boy painting didnt burn so it bured round the boy but didnt spread thats odd the only option is to say the painting is possessed by the boy in the painting thats the only solution

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      5 months ago from UK

      I think that a lot of people are convinced that the painting is bad luck and rather than destroy and risk more, they pass the painting on. My grandmother suffered three big fires in her life. She owned the painting when she had the middle fire and gave it away soon after. But as I said she had three fires and attributed to the other two to her own carelessness.

    • profile image

      full moon blossom 

      5 months ago

      I happen to stumble across one of this paintings before. The lady who owned it pressured me into buying it however I refused. I had asked two people why she was trying to get rid of it. They had said she would see children run through her house and bite her is this true or fake.

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      5 months ago from UK

      The children are very beautiful and appealing. I hope you enjoy your painting. Ann

    • profile image

      Slavic 

      5 months ago

      Hi I buy this paint today is gorgeous

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      6 months ago from UK

      I will be sure to watch. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      I'm jaystaitons big paranormal fan he does 3 AM 

      6 months ago

      I have heard of the crying boy but never seen it in real or up in person

      But I am watching lots of paranormal things and I am a huge fan of jaystaytion so make sure you watch him on YouTube

      Just to say I am new here

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      6 months ago from UK

      Alexandra please don’t worry. I am sure that your painting is fine. The paintings that people were worried about were on sale in England forty years ago. Lots and lots of copies were made and some people thought they were printed on cheap materials that weren’t fire proof. The newspapers at the time whipped up hysteria to sell copies after a few coincidences. The paintings are on sale all over the world and no other country suffered the same phenomenon as far as I know. Please enjoy your painting. If you are really concerned maybe you could take it down for a while and place it in a safe place until you decide what to do.

    • profile image

      Alexandra 

      6 months ago

      Hi, please help me, I have one of those paintings but the boy in it looks older than the photos I found online but it's sign by giovanni.....and I can't find a picture of the painting I have(in which the boy looks older) online or in anywhere and I don't lIve in Englan and my country does not speak in english, maybe the painting was brought here.......please......I'm really scared. i have the painting since I've moved into this house with my family and nothing seems to have happened neither to us or the family here before but they wanted to move really fast. As I said I have no idea how the painting came here since I don't lIve in Englan and the previous owners were not related to England in any kind of way. PLEASE HELP MEEE!!!!!!

    • profile image

      cookie girl 

      6 months ago

      this is so scary if i lived alone i would but my grandma in home alone when me and my siblings and grandpa go to school or work and if anything happned to her i would never forgive myself i do like ghosts a anything like that

    • profile image

      luna bell 

      7 months ago

      my nan has that exact picture on her wall i told my mum and she said she is gonna take it down

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      7 months ago from UK

      Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry you have had such horrible experiences. Fire is truly devastating. As you can see from the comments there are diverse views on the subject of these paintings. I don't think I'd be brave enough to tempt fate and have one in the house, no matter how much I loved the painting. Best wishes, Ann

    • profile image

      I am sitting in shock 

      7 months ago

      We had a copy of this painting in our living room, and our kitchen on the farm caught fire because of chips cooking in oil that spilled over and yes when I moved to the City years later as a grown up the same thing happened with my in my townhouse. No jokes, no stories.

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      7 months ago from UK

      Hi Annah, I would suggest emailing a few auctioneers specialising in art and send them photos of your paintings. It would be very exciting if they turned out to be valuable. Good luck and fingers crossed. Ann

    • profile image

      annah kontic 

      7 months ago

      wrote an email ref we might have an original of this and forgot to leave my email for contact ..annah1@btinternet.com it is the email ref an italian painter who used to bring his family to lismore every year to stay in castle with duke of devonshire...my nam was a milk maid there and she was given a crying boy and another painting....it does not look like a print but an oil painting and the signiture in top right hand corner looks lkke a w bragolin but hard to make out..it is certainly not a print...the other painting is of a lady in oils we think done by same person but we can't find signiture....they are in old wooden frames..can anybody help

    • profile image

      Bob the helper 

      8 months ago

      To be Save or Remove this Curse You have to get a Crying girl to keep him from doing ANY Dangerous Stuff, “Someone said that The little Crying boy would also come out the painting” If you have a Crying boy I consider you get a Crying girl to keep him company!

    • profile image

      Elisabeth Gardner 

      9 months ago

      Absolute nonsense to blame a painting or print for a disaster In a house. I owned this painting 20 years ago if not longer and nothing happened ever. People have to much phantasy. If I can buy another one I will.

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      10 months ago from UK

      That is a lovely thought Sumiya.

    • profile image

      Sumiya Ahmed 

      10 months ago

      For this boy I felt sad.. But if he is unlucky.. Then I also Don't want to ran my whole family... If he is still alive I pray he became lucky for everyone.. N he deserves love... God bless him

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      10 months ago from UK

      This is the problem Wanor, fires happen unfortunately. Common sense tells you the painting can’t be the cause but are you prepared to tempt fate? I would rest easy and enjoy your cards if they turn up, such beautiful children. Best wishes, Ann.

    • profile image

      Wanor Sintaro 

      10 months ago

      Hi Ann... I bought this crying boy post card when I was a teenager in the 80s. One of my most favourite post card collections. I don't believe in this superstition but...my parents' house caught on fire ten years ago caused by a short circuit. Now I am wondering whether the crying boy post card was at my parents' house. I think I have lost it.. :-) &*_*& Have a nice Day!

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      10 months ago from UK

      Thanks for your comment. The whole story is fascinating. Have a good day. Best wishes, Ann.

    • profile image

      Shrewsbury lou 

      10 months ago

      We actually had this painting in our condo which traveled with us from from new york. I was told that the boy was crying because if you look at the picture sideways it looks like a face (demon of some sort) can be made from the coat.

      We never had any fires but then again When the picture was packed along with other paintings, this one was in front and tape was used to hold them together for easy transport. When the tape was removed, it left a cross imprint across the picture which may be why we never had any issues.

    • tithi5683 profile image

      Dilruba Hossain 

      11 months ago from Dhaka

      your right

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      11 months ago from UK

      Hi Dilruba, many people do believe the curse is real. It certainly became a phenomenon in the united Kingdom during the seventies and eighties. I think opinion is divided. Lots of people would think that the idea of a curse is silly superstition but others are not prepared to take a chance. My grandmother certainly had a fire while owning a copy but then had another severe fire twenty years after destroying the painting.

    • tithi5683 profile image

      Dilruba Hossain 

      11 months ago from Dhaka

      its real?

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      11 months ago from UK

      Hi Jessica, there is certainly a copy of the painting on the uk and the us versions of eBay at the moment, I don’t know where you are based. If you do a search of Giovanni Bragolin print or Giovanni Bragolin ‘The Crying Boy’, a copy of the print should come up, there are hundreds out there. You have a beautiful child by the way. Best wishes.

    • profile image

      Jessica Forkey 

      11 months ago

      I am trying to find the crying boy painting. The painting looks alot like my son. Can you please help I seen it on the TV show Ghost Adventures Artifacts with Zak Bagans and fell in love with it my email address is Jessicaforkey82@gmail.com thank you Jessica

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      13 months ago from UK

      Thanks for your comment Lynn. The children in the paintings are very beautiful. Your son must be very handsome. It is so sad to see them crying. I think you probably did a wise thing. Best wishes, Ann.

    • profile image

      Lynn Whiat 

      13 months ago

      I was given a paining of crying boy by a neighbor in Toronto Ontario who thought it was my oldest son, I told her no, she wanted me too have it. I hang it up & over the yrs everyone that came too my house thought it was my son. over 20 years later me& my daughter were watching a show about curses & that photo came up...I was like omg where is that painting, I had put it in basement storage because on one of our moves it had water damage on the bottom. The next day I watch garbage truck take it away. Never wanting it in my house again. We never had a fire all the yrs living in Pickering but came close a few times. I believe someone was looking after us. I just can not believe how much that boy looked like both my sons...very weird

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      13 months ago from UK

      Oh my goodness Harold, hoping and wishing that things improve for you. A lot of people would scoff. I think better safe than sorry. Stay well. My very best wishes. Ann

    • profile image

      harold fessler 

      13 months ago

      Bought a print at a flea market around may 2015.

      Sept 1 2015- diagnosed throat cancer. Had surgery, beat it.

      Jan thru Dec 2016 3 surgeries skin cancer. Beat it

      Aug 2017 auto accident, broken back..

      Told my wife sept 2017 to get rid of painting. When we first got the copy of painting I mocked it. The painting is now gone from my home......!!!

    • anncarcat profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carney 

      13 months ago from UK

      I think you are exactly right.

    • profile image

      mc 

      13 months ago

      I think that the painter captured the innocence pureness of a soul that can not be destroyed by evil.

    • profile image

      Lynsey1879 

      16 months ago

      Yer IV heard this story it's quite an old 1 now, apparently where ever this picture would get put or who ever owned it, a fire was 2 always follow & that would b the only thing intact where as everything &every 1 was burnt,

    • mohamudukash9 profile image

      mohamudukash9 

      16 months ago

      I am really so sorry to see totally a baby crying and I don't like to force the children to cry.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, exemplore.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://exemplore.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)