People Believe This 1937 Painting Is "Proof" Of Time Travel

Can you see it?

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockOct 13 2022, 13:35 UTC
A painted scene shows Native Americans and pilgrims at a market. One Native American man looks like he is staring right at an iPhone.
In our scientific opinion this is definitely time travel. Image credit:

An old painting has people asking if time travel is real, because it really, really looks like a painting from 1937 shows a Native American man staring at a smart phone while doing a "I'm sorry, I have to take this" hand gesture.

The painting, titled Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield, depicts colonist and founder of Springfield, Massachusetts, William Pynchon, during the development of the city. 


Pynchon went on to write the book, The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption in 1650, which became the first ever book to be banned in Boston, as well as being burned on the Boston Common. Weirdly, William Pynchon was an ancestor of acclaimed novelist Thomas Pynchon, as Vice points out. This is all very interesting, but what is really distracting is that there is a Native American man in the picture who has clearly just read a bad tweet.

A painted Native American man clearly checking his notifications.
"Oh would you look at the time, I have to go back to my century." Image Credit: David Stansbury via Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

The image has been shared on Reddit met with comments such as "sure as hell does. Including the look on guy's face, like he just saw his most recent post got downvoted into oblivion," while others concocted scenarios where the man tied up behind the "phone user" is from modern times (apparently, his trousers look vaguely modern) and has had the phone confiscated by those around him. 

The artist, Umberto Romano, painted another picture which looks like a woman watching an iPad, despite being painted decades before they'd even been dreamed up.


In terms of rational explanations, the best we have seen is that it is a hand mirror, which would have been a popular item to trade when the painting was set, or that he is inspecting an axe head. A mirror being more likely than someone developing time travel (presumably in some far off future that for some reason still uses the iPhone 11) then headed back to 1937, before accidentally revealing himself by being painted into a picture of 1650 by checking his notifications whilst still-life modeling.

  • tag
  • time travel,

  • art,

  • weird and wonderful