Tuesday, 17 Mar, 2009 Offbeat

103 Well-known Historical Faces in One Internet Hit Painting


Some of the history's most remarkable personalities have been pictured in one painting where you can see Russia's current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin resting near a sprawled Mike Tyson and Leonardo da Vinci in involved in active conversation with Josef Stalin.

One of the latest internet hits has been a painting of 103 historical figures, illustrated in a very detailed way. A lot of contest announcements appeared online, involving users in a game to identify all the personalities in the painting. One can easily spot Gandhi, but there are some figures like Liu Xiang, who is less recognizable, but who in fact is a Chinese hurdler who was unlucky at the Summer Olympic Games that took place in Beijing.

There are questions regarding the origin of the painting with some considering that it was inspired from Raphael's Renaissance fresco The School of Athens, where the famous artist illustrated all ancient philosophers. However, the recent work doesn't link all of its characters, Napoleon being included on the same painting with Bill Gates, for example.

However, some observers managed to spot a number of clues to the origin of the work. A lot of personalities in the painting are little known outside Asia. Some of them are Chinese communist leaders and poets. The painting also features Juan Antonio Samaranch, who is a career bureaucrat and ex-chairman of the International Olympic Committee. His appearance could be explained only if the author of the work comes from China, because Mr. Samaranch is a famous figure in the country, known for the fact that he was the one who awarded Beijing the 2008 Games, informs The Daily Telegraph.

The painting also includes 3 undistinguished men in modern dress, who appear in the scene from behind a wall found at the top right of the work. This is another clue discovered by eagle-eye observers. The three figures have been identified by some of the Internet users as Chinese/Taiwanese artists named as Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang An. These artists are the authors of a painting called "Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante", created in 2006.

According to Alastair Sooke, who works as an art writer at The Daily Telegraph, the painting represented a trend of modern Chinese artists implementing Western styles and subjects.

"But the Dante reference makes us wonder whether we are looking at some nether-circle deep inside the Inferno: this is a vision of Celebrity Hell," the art writer said. The whole painting is avilable here .

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