View Full Version : Oda Nobunaga

14th November 2010, 15:29
I am in a discussion with someone about this picture here:


He claims that this is a genuine painting by Gioanni Nicolao, 16th century.
To me it looks like a photograph.

I have several reasons why I doubt the "painting" idea.

1. I doubt the moustache to be contemporary. It looks 19th century.
2. The mage seems to modern.
3. The shadowing doesn't look anything like what I know of renaissance or baroque art.
4. The sepia and grain seem quite photograph like, and not so much like a painting.
5. This picture looks nothing like the woodblock works on Oda Nobunaga I ever saw. Especially the moustache (again) is a dead give away.

Now... is there any of you who has a credible source to tell me I am mistaking?

Tripitaka of AA
14th November 2010, 20:50
You missed a letter "v" in the artist's name; Giovanni Nicolao.

He is credited as teaching the artist brother Emmanuel Pereira (born Yu Wen-hui), who painted this picture of Matteo Ricci, in 1610;

That came from the page here (http://dictionary.editme.com/Ricci).

The picture that you link to, appears in various locations online, including Wikipedia, where it states that the picture was authenticated on the History channel program "Historia". I know that this does not mean anything. I agree that on forst impression it looks photographic. However, that can sometimes happen even in paintings from a time when the likeness is not usually so accurate.

I notice the moustache is full and wide. This contrasts with how Japanese painters were displaying the moustaches of people from that period. But is that a stylistic difference in the portrait painting, rather than a difference in the person being depicted. Note that the painting I linked to has a full, strong moustache. This reminded me of the kind of moustache still favoured in the middle East, where a moustache is still seen as a sign of virility, maturity and status. Could it be that the Italian jesuit portrait painter conferred the characteristics associated with status, onto the face that other, local, artists showed with a thin moustache.

I can't offer anything that approaches a qualified opinion. Just a few ideas that came up when I saw the picture and did a Google search. Good luck with finding a more expert answer.

14th November 2010, 21:00
Now *THAT'S* a 16th 17th century painting!
Still doesn't answer my suspicion about the picture I showed.

Todd Lambert
15th November 2010, 00:29
There is a large painting of Oda Nobunaga in Gifu Castle, which I used to visit frequently. The painting displayed here looks like a different person in my opinion.

This is the painting I remember in Gifu:

15th November 2010, 09:17
Now THAT is a painting. And THAT is a contemporary 16th century moustache.
And this guy also looks a lot more like the guy on the woodblock images.

Do you know if it is a contemporary painting, by any chance?

Tripitaka of AA
15th November 2010, 13:24
Just for curiosity, I typed "portraits 16th century" into Google images, and it was quite astonishing. Some of the paintings are incredibly "photographic" and very attractive.

I chose the earlier one because it was pained by someone who had been taught by Nicolao, and would therefore be likely to have a similar style. But his painting was not done from "life" and that might account for at least some of the non-realism.

Another thing from Google images... is the complete lack of any other online representations of any other pictures attributed to Giovanni Nicolao. That Oda Nobunaga picture comes up a lot... but nothing else by that artist.

16th November 2010, 07:25
The picture that you link to, appears in various locations online, including Wikipedia, where it states that the picture was authenticated on the History channel program "Historia". I know that this does not mean anything. I agree that on forst impression it looks photographic. However, that can sometimes happen even in paintings from a time when the likeness is not usually so accurate.

Ouch! I somehow missed this part of your reply! This is some information I can work with. I will search further for information on Historia.

Thanks a lot! :)

And yes, 16th century painters could definitely paint astonishingly accurate. You have to be VERY knowledgeable to see mistakes in many paintings.
Sometimes perspective isn't perfect, as the concept of "perception" has only been (re)discovered.

This is the 15th century painter Jan Van Eyck. He's been an incredible painter. The rest of Europe was still painting stick figures while he did this, in a manner of speaking:
Look at this painting. It's amazing for its time, 1434!

But if you know what to look for, you'll see the little mistakes he made with perspective. He didn't yet know that the "perspective lines" (dunno if this is the correct English terminology, in my native language it's "escape lines" but I think "perspective lines" makes more sense in English) have to lead to one single point instead of several points.

Another example is the famous painting by Sandro Botticelli, the Birth of Venus (1486).
At first glance, this is a rather perfect painting.
At the second look, you'll see (and as a martial artist you should see that easily) that Venus cannot stand up like that. He complete weight is off of her feet. She has to topple to the right (from viewers perspective).
At the third, closer watch, you'll find that there isn't "rea" depth. He tries to generate depth by adding the erratic coast line and the trees to the right and even already by making the nearby parts darker than the parts that are nearer to the horizon. Yet it's not really perspective. Look at the waves. They hardly are smaller, the more you go to the horizon.
The last perspective problem is that they are all equally far away. They aren't realistically positioned. They are really on one single line. The easiest way to see that, is to compare the heads. The heads are all exactly equally large, which isn't the case if the distance between them and the viewer isn't the same. Remark: the head of the man is a bit smaller than the head of the girl who embraces him. Quite unlikely. Men usually have larger heads than women.

Then the four persons in the painting don't look as they are "in" the painting.
Especially the girl to the right. She doesn't seem to touch the ground, and there is no real shadow either.

B U T: even with those details, it's AMAZING!
Especially when you know what the previous stage was, being things like this:
As I said: hardly more than just stick figures.

17th November 2010, 07:17
At the risk of further derailing this thread, this is my favourite 16th century portrait.
Giovanni Bellini's portrait of The Doge Leonardo Loredan ~1501

17th November 2010, 07:25
1501? Astonishing!
It looks a lot more modern than that! Fascinating how quickly the art of painting evolved from the rather primitive romanic and gothic art into the amazingly lively and detailed renaissance art!