What's that portrait?
February 22, 2012 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Name that incredibly photorealistic painting of a (bishop?) at a European museum (the Prado?).

This is almost impossibly vague, I'll grant. I remember being struck by this painting and have not seen it since, does anyone have any idea? It would have been at a major European museum, and it's not a contemporary work. How can I narrow this enough to find it? What would have been the pinnacle of photo-realistic European portraiture?
posted by leotrotsky to Society & Culture (10 answers total)
Not sure sure you'd call this "photorealistic" but it's a Cardinal at the Prado that's pretty luminescent. It's by Raphael.

The artist who immediately came to mind was Hans Holbein, although I can't think of anything at the Prado that fits. Early Renaissance northern artists generally paint in a kind of hyperrealist manner (at least in looking at the details). There are other periods where you find this kind of thing (mid C18th portraiture, for example--especially the French pastel tradition), but the question is really a bit vague for these to be more than shots in the dark. Is there anything else at all you remember about the painting?
posted by yoink at 4:17 PM on February 22, 2012

This isn't exactly incredibly photorealistic either, but Goya's portrait of Cardinal Luis Maria de Borbon y Vallabriga is at the Prado.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:33 PM on February 22, 2012

What other museums have you been to?
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:37 PM on February 22, 2012

Pope Innocent X by Velasquez?

Portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati by Van Eyck?

Neither of these are actually the one I'm thinking of... was he waring red velvet like the pope one, but situated more like the second one, and the velvet is very prominent?
posted by cmoj at 4:45 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe something by Caravaggio? He was key in the transition from the Renaissance to the more realistic Baroque style. His portrait of Paul V comes to mind.

My other thought is Velázquez, who obviously would have a lot works at the Prado and was a bit later in the Baroque period. On preview, it looks like cmoj thought of the same portrait I did.
posted by sbrollins at 4:48 PM on February 22, 2012

Real link for Cardinal Luis Maria.

That photostream has pictures of a lot of European paintings and they're well-tagged, so you can search likely keywords there.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:06 PM on February 22, 2012

Response by poster: cmoj: that's right. It's from about chest up, with lots of shiny red velvet. The subject is staring directly at the artist. I believe the canvas had a gloss to it, made it seem very vivid and arresting.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:20 PM on February 22, 2012

Other than the works already suggested, I've got these possibilities from my Prado book (all I did was go through and look for portraits with red as a primary color, generally post-Renaissance):
Felix Antonio Maximo Lopez, First Organist of the Royal Chapel
George Legge, Viscount Lewisham
The Painter Marteen Rijkaert
St. Jerome Reading a Letter
If it's not one of those, it's either not in my book or not in the Prado (my book is extensive, but by no means definitive - it's just the guidebook from the gift shop).
posted by LionIndex at 8:04 PM on February 22, 2012

This one sounds a lot like what you're describing, but it's not from a European museum.
posted by jeri at 12:15 AM on February 23, 2012

Sorry, the segment from the Secret Knowledge documentary I was thinking of was talking about the Innocent X. I have no more ideas on how to look for the one I'm thinking of, if it exists.
posted by cmoj at 8:25 AM on February 26, 2012

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