103 Famous Faces in One Painting

An oil painting of 100 historical personages is one of the Internet’s newest sensations. Figures ranging from Fidel Castro to Shirley Temple are depicted in the large-scale 20′ x 8.5′ (6m x 2.6m) work entitled “Discussing the Divine Comedy With Dante.” Three additional faces — pushing up the count of faces in the painting to 103 — belong to the artists themselves. From Telegraph:

Message boards have erupted with contests to identify all those featured, who range from instantly recognisable figures like Gandhi to some more obscure figures such as Liu Xiang, the Chinese hurdler who limped out of the Beijing Olympics in the summer.

An element of mystery also surrounds that origins of the picture, which appears to have drawn inspiration from Raphael’s Renaissance fresco The School of Athens.

[...]They created the oil painting – titled Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante – in 2006, although it has only become a viral internet hit in the past few weeks.

Sina reveals more about the painting and its three artists in its article “Deciphering History’s Most Mysterious Oil Painting,” selectively translated by CDT:

On the Chinese elements in the painting:

painting-1One netizen said that it seems like there is Pu-erh tea and a tea biscuit in front of Mao Zedong, placed there as if to relate some aspects of Chinese tea culture. However, artist Dai Dudu says that it is a tile end with a dragon depiction on it. Indeed, as many netizens have noted, the painting includes many Chinese elements: a red tablecloth with a China map, Chinese bronze vessels, and a broken ancient wheel — did you see all of these?

有网友曾说,毛泽东面前放的好像是普洱茶,而且是个茶饼,为的是宣传中国的茶文化。不过据戴都都证实,原来这是一个汉代的瓦当,上面还有龙纹呢。其实正如许多网友看出的那样,这里面有不少的中国元素,如红桌布上的中国地图、青铜器、破损的古代车轮,这些你都看出来了吗?

On the presence of the camera at the painting’s right-hand side:

It is now certain that the figure in the painting’s right-hand side above Yue Fei is Mei Lanfang. But what is he holding, and what is its significance? As many netizens have pointed out, he has a camera in his hand. According to this writer, the camera is used to express a kind of relaxed and humorous side. But it also creates a link — the camera captures life as well as the painting’s external surroundings, effectively creating a connection with the viewers.

现在可以确定,在画面右侧中部岳飞上方的是梅兰芳,可他拿的是什么?有什么含义呢?其实有不少网友都看出来了,手里拿的是个照相机。作者说了,道具就是为了表达轻松、诙谐的感觉,但又和本人有某种联系。梅兰芳手举相机,既是在照生活,也是在照画面外边的景物,是和观众的一种交流。

On the artists:

painting3The creators are Chinese artists. They are Dai Dudu, Liaoning Art Institute’s Vice President; Li Tiezi, contemporary oil painter; Zhang Anjun, chairman of the Shenyang Youth Association of Artists, and contemporary oil painter. Dai Dudu led the effort.

According to Dai Dudu, the three began work on the painting in 2006, completing it 10 months later. “At the time, we wanted to represent world history within a single painting. We wanted to showcase the world’s story, and let viewers feel as if they were flipping the pages of a history book,” Dai said.

这幅作品的创作者是中国人,他们是——戴都都,辽宁画院副院长;李铁子,当代著名油画家;张安君,沈阳市青年美协主席、著名油画家。其中,戴都都是主要构思和创意者,也算是三人创作团队的领军人物。

[...]戴都都介绍说,他们是从2006年开始创作这幅画,前后历时10个月。“当时就是想把世界史画成一幅画,讲讲世界故事,让大家感觉像是在翻一本历史书一样。”他说。

Interesting facts about the painting:

painting2A few other inclusions were made in the hopes that the painting would have romantic and even humorous elements. For example, there is a typewriter in front of [Chinese poet] Li Bai. To Liu Xiang’s side is [Kofi] Annan playing a flute, which expresses a relaxed spirit. To the left is George W. Bush, looking through a telescope while Bin Laden stands behind him. Artist Dai Dudu includes a stroke of chance: conveniently, Saddam Hussein is within Bush’s line of vision.

一些道具的运用是希望画面能传达出一种浪漫、随意,甚至是诙谐。比如在李白面前放一个打字机,既有联系,又很浪漫;刘翔旁边的安南吹着笛子,表达一种放松的状态。右上角的小布什拿个望远镜,背后却是他怎么也找不到的本·拉登,戴都都表示是种巧合,其实顺着小布什望远镜的方向,可以看到萨达姆。

The three painters are depicted next to Dante in the upper right-hand corner of the painting.

The non-Chinese figures are:

Dante, Archimedes, Gates, Lenin, Pele, Tutankhamen, Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam, Chopin, Hepburn, Ford, Charlie Chaplin, Bethune, Gorky, Pushkin, Charles de Gaulle, Paul, Bill Clinton, Peter the Great, Matisse, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Elvis, Stalin, Da Vinci, Marx, Engels, Goethe, Nietzsche,Robert Caro, Shakespeare , Mozart, Napoleon, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Marlon Brando, Yasser Arafat, Monroe, Washington, Lincoln, Marie Curie, Rodin, Picasso, Caesar, Osama bin Laden, Bush, Luciano Pavarotti, Dali, Jordan, Sharon, Chennault, Charles, Kofi Annan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Hideki Tojo, Mother Teresa, Michelangelo, Bismarck, Nobel, Tagore, Rousseau, Van Gogh, Eisenhower, Lautrec, Corneliu Baba, Gandhi, Noah, Einstein, Tolstoy, Hans Christian Andersen, Spielberg, Shirley Temple, Tyson, Vladimir Putin, Juan Antonio Samaranch, Freud, Elizabeth II.

但丁、阿基米德、盖茨、列宁、贝利、图坦卡蒙法老、希特勒、墨索里尼、萨达姆、肖邦、赫本、福特、卓别林、白求恩、高尔基、普希金、戴高乐、保尔、克林顿、彼得大帝、马蒂斯、撒切尔夫人、丘吉尔、罗斯福、海明威、猫王、斯大林、达芬奇、马克思、恩格斯、歌德、尼采、罗伯特·卡帕、莎士比亚、莫扎特、拿破仑、切格瓦拉、卡斯特罗、马龙白兰度、阿拉法特、梦露、华盛顿、林肯、居里夫人、罗丹、毕加索、凯撒、拉登、布什、帕瓦罗蒂、达利、乔丹、沙龙、陈纳德、查尔斯、安南、戈尔巴乔夫、东条英机、德兰修女、米开朗基罗、俾斯麦、诺贝尔、泰戈尔、卢梭、梵高、艾森豪威尔、劳特累克、柯尔尼留、甘地、诺亚、爱因斯坦、托尔斯泰、安徒生、斯皮尔伯格、秀兰·邓波儿、泰森、普京、萨马兰奇、弗洛伊德、伊丽莎白二世。

The Chinese figures are:

Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Confucius, Laozi, Li Bai, Sun Yatsen, Chiang Kai-shek, Qin Shi Huang, Genghis Khan, Cixi, Song Qingling, Mei Lanfang, Run Run Shaw, Lu Xun, Lei Feng, Guan Yu, Liu Baishi, Qi Baishi, Bruce Lee, Liu Xiang, and Cui Jian.

画中的中国人有毛泽东、周恩来、邓小平、孔子、老子、李白、孙中山、蒋介石、秦始皇、成吉思汗、慈禧、宋庆龄、梅兰芳、邵逸夫、鲁迅、雷锋、关羽、齐白石、李小龙、刘翔、崔健。

Click here for the full image. This site has an interactive version of the painting that gives the name of each person when you hover the mouse over their image, with a link to their Wikipedia page. Note: There are discrepancies between the names in the list provided by Sina (above) and the list at the external site.

March 20, 2009 3:39 PM
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