My youngest son is taking an AP Art History class online over the summer. Without mentioning the name of the curriculum provider, please allow me to share a tidbit of the lecture I overheard today.
Instructor: "*Wah-wah-wah-wah* (think: Charlie Brown's teacher's trombone-with-a-plunger-mute voice) ... El Greco traveled to Rome in 1570 and met Michelangelo there."
Me: "Wait. What?" (Such verbal acuity!)
Me: "Would you rewind that a little bit and play it again, please?"
He did, and, yes, the instructor did say that El Greco traveled to Rome in 1570 and met Michelangelo there. Well slap me silly and call me Sally, Instructor Guy. This came as riveting news, seeing as how Michelangelo, you know, died in February of 1564. We have primary documentation, eye witnesses, first-hand accounts of the funeral mass and the whole nine yards, but perhaps El Greco held a big old sťance while in Rome or something?
Regardless, I'm sending a few emails. They will be kind in tone and here's why: if you do anything long enough, you are bound to make at least one mistake. Also, history is an elastic discipline that is subject to legitimate revision. Example: I recently noticed that which is a lie published -- by me -- as fact some years ago, and am in the process of correcting it before making public amends. Apparently even a curriculum seen by multiple sets of eyes before being published can contain a mistake. We are all only human.
So, without being too judgmental, what's your story? We already know that Picasso wasn't left-handed and Leonardo didn't have a last name, but what else might qualify as the biggest falsehood ever presented to you in an art history class? A Top 10 list of myths might be fun to build together -- if you have any to share, please leave the gory details in the comments below.