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How Monty Python ‘stole’ their famous foot from a 16th-century painting: Terry Gilliam reveals the bare foot was inspired by Bronzino’s Allegory of Venus, Cupid and Folly during a visit to the National Gallery


Comedian Terry Gilliam has revealed that Monty Python’s famous leg was «stolen» from a 16th-century painting in the National Gallery.

The foot that notoriously stomps twice in Monty Python’s Flying Circus was inspired by a similar foot in Agnolo Bronzino’s Allegory of Venus and Cupid.

Mr Gilliam appeared in a documentary celebrating the National Gallery’s 200th anniversary, where he discusses how he noticed Cupid’s foot above the dove in the lower corner of the painting.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he said: “It looked like his leg was about to crush an unsuspecting bird. I thought it would be a beautiful punctuation—a sudden stop to what was happening.

“Cupid’s foot made it even better because what better than to be crushed by love.

Comedian Terry Gilliam has revealed that Monty Python’s famous leg was «stolen» from a 16th-century painting in the National Gallery.

Agnolo Bronzino's painting Allegory of Venus and Cupid, which partially inspired the famous leg from the opening credits of Monty Python's Flying Circus

Agnolo Bronzino’s painting Allegory of Venus and Cupid, which partially inspired the famous leg from the opening credits of Monty Python’s Flying Circus

The foot that notoriously stomps twice in the opening credits of Monty Python's Flying Circus was inspired by similar bare feet in Agnolo Bronzino's painting Allegory of Venus and Cupid.

The foot that notoriously stomps twice in the opening credits of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was inspired by similar bare feet in Agnolo Bronzino’s painting Allegory of Venus and Cupid.

Gilliam is one of 16 people, including celebrities and gallery staff, who appear in the film and discuss their favorite paintings at the National Gallery.

The Monty Python cast member will also appear in the documentary, which will be shown in 300 cinemas across the UK. As a famous train enthusiast, Mr Palin unsurprisingly chose Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed.

He said: “It shows the birth of railways.

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“Yet Turner also depicts a landscape balanced by a train. It’s a real story where you feel like the New World will win.”

Princess Eugenie, meanwhile, chose Correggio’s Madonna from a basket. She said: A mother takes care of her little child and tries to put a jacket on him. I recently had my second child and I know the feeling.

Some people even claim that the painting saved their life, as in the case of Peter Murphy.

Mr Murphy suffered from severe drug and alcohol addiction in the 1990s and 2000s while working on Channel 4’s Eurotrash. But a trip to the gallery in 2009 left a deep impression on him.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Gillaim said: “It looked like his leg was about to crush the unsuspecting bird.  I thought it would be a beautiful punctuation - an abrupt stop to what was happening.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Gillaim said: “It looked like his leg was about to crush the unsuspecting bird. I thought it would be a beautiful punctuation—a sudden stop to what was happening. «Cupid’s foot made it even better because what’s better than being crushed by love»

He said: ‘I’ve been there before, but this time I was drawn to the blue painting. It was Bellini’s Madonna of the Meadow.

“Very quickly I was touched by the calmness and peace of this Virgin and child. I am not religious, although I was raised by a very strict Catholic father. When I saw Madonna, I thought «mommy’s home».

He then visited the painting every day for 12 months and credited the famous work of art with helping him get off alcohol and drugs.

Mr Murphy added: “The painting gives me inner peace. And fortunately, the gallery is free. I just feel like I belong here. It’s my club. It is my National Gallery.”

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