Do you see a prototype? Updated!

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We’ve been asked whether we recognise any comics/cartooning prototypes, or sources of inspiration, for the above-posted picture. We are somewhat at a loss. Can you help us? Please let us know what you think might have inspired the painter, or merely what the image makes you think of.

(I shall refrain from giving more information on the image for a few days, in order to let your associations wander more freely. Thanks for your help!)

UPDATE: Here’s what Anne Gregersen from J. F. Willumsens Museum in Denmark writes:

“The painting is called The Prince’s Wedding and was created by the Danish artist J.F. Willumsen (1863-1958). There’s a sixty-year span between different parts of the painting: It was first painted in 1888. After a severe criticism by the establishment and by a leading art critic, Willumsen chose to cover the central figures of the painting with a star-shaped piece of black paper. In 1948 he began a radical modification of the work. He cut out the part of the canvas covered by the star-shaped piece of paper and inserted new canvas there, as well as on the left side of the painting. And he then repainted the central figures in a completely different style, which may have been inspired by contemporary comics like Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, Superman and Batman. Or movies like The Wizard of Oz or Robin Hood. On May 13th, the J.F. Willumsen Museum is opening an exhibition about this work, and we are very interested in hearing what kind of associations the painting brings to your mind.”

Here’s an image of the painting before it was reworked, with the star-shaped piece of cardboard in place:

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2 Responses to “Do you see a prototype? Updated!”


  • I’m looking forward to getting more information about this image.

    It looks like an allegory of painting of some kind, an allegory of the fate of realist painting: figures out of Ilya Repin allowed into the hallowed halls of some museum for an audience or feast with royalty, a fictional encounter but likely as close as these people will ever get. Fictional and sadly inedible. Peasants are invited to a sumptuous table at which they can never eat because it is only the representation of food.

    At the same time the painted royalty — much more intentionally presented as painted than the Repin peasantry –very clearly consider their audience as well, done in the style of Repin (?) an artist at the birth of modernism who produced a greatness with more in common with the past than the future of fine art. Repin’s legacy trailed off in Social Realism in Russia and, it could be said, in the tradition of illustration exemplified in America by N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle.

    The subject matter of the painting the peasants look at has enough in common with typical paintings by Wyeth and Pyle to suggest a parallel. And the division between it and the peasants is strong enough to make one think in terms of shifts in historical periods. And that is all I could suggest in terms of cartooning prototypes: the historical moment when realist painting styles began to be valued only by illustrators.

    But I’ll leave this at the point where further elaboration, if based on a wrong interpretation, would only lead me to absurdities. As I said, I look forward to more information. It is a very cool image.

  • Hi Kerry,
    Thanks for your comment, which includes a number of interesting thoughts. I’ve now added some information from the Willumsen Museum, who are currently planning an exhibition around the work.

    I like the comparison with Repin a lot, and as you see you are quite right about you assessment of its relationship to social realism and illustration. As a matter of fact, to me it doesn’t bring to mind comics as much as certain mid- to late 19th-century, as well as early 20th-century Scandinavian illustrators, working with Nordic-inflected subject matter, first and foremost Lorenz Frølich (1820-1908) and his followers.

    Does anyone else have any thoughts?

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