An iPhone in Colonial America

1937 Mural Shows 15th Century iPhone

In 1937 an Italian American Emigre painter named Umberto Romano painted a mural entitled 'Mr Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield'. The Mural presently hangs in the Springfield, Massachusetts Post Office along with mug shots of Americas Most wanted.

It wasn't untill fairly recently that people began to take notice of a bizarre aspect of this painting. A native American from the 1600s appears to be holding and gazing at a modern cell phone, similar to an iPhone. Several of his tribesmen also appear to be glaring at the device in his hand.

1937 iPhone

Not only is he holding it, but he is doing so in a fashion reminiscent of modern iPhone users, his thumb is positioned in a fashion that would allow him to work the interface / the scrolling screen.

The painting is supposed to depict 2 native tribes meeting British settlers for the first time in Massachusetts circa 1630. Cell Phones as I'm sure you are well aware were not around till the 1970s and smartphones, such as the one that appears to be depicted did not arrive on the scene till the 21st Century.

Some have suggested it's probably a mirror that the native had never seen before which would explain the tribes fascination with it. Another theory states that it is an iron axe head which the natives also had never seen and would be of great value to them.

Scholars have pointed out some historical inaccuracies with the painting such as the depiction of the natives being brutish and muscular, which the local Indians were not. They are also nearly naked, which was not common of tribes in New England. Another problem is the presence of Native women which would have never been permitted by the local Nipmuc Indians when interacting with either the settlers or another tribe.

A quick review of other paintings by Umberto Romano turns up another curious work. A reclining nude appears to looking at an ipad mounted on an easel. Perhaps it's a mirror that she vanely glares into, perhaps a picture of a loved one, but it certainly looks like an iPad. What do you think ?

ipad in early painting

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