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This painting is hanging in Dreykov's office in Black Widow... Is this a famous painting? Can anybody identify it and shed some light on what it contributes to the scene there?

This painting features very prominently in the background of a shot in Dreykov's office, during a conversation between Natasha and Dreykov. That conversation is dripping with "me-too" symbolism, and playing with the power dynamics between the characters. I think it is extremely likely that the painting is intended to contribute to the meaning of this scene. It seems crucial to the understanding of what the movie is trying to say...

painting of man looking slightly up with his hands folded

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    Looks like it’s either by a Dutch master or meant to look like it’s Dutch/Flemish, particularly similar to Rembrandt. A question that wouldn’t be closed is “why is [this famous portrait] hanging in the office?” The identification aspect of it is trivia even if the portrait is meaningful. The meaning of the portrait would be a separate question from identification Jul 21, 2021 at 13:24
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    With respect, I think that's extremely unhelpful and contributes to general user frustration with over-zealous moderation on Stack Exchange sites. I'm allowed to ask why a painting in a scene has meaning if I already known what the painting is, but if I don't already know what the painting is, asking the same question is verboten? This is a meaningful, well-intentioned question, that was one of the most popular questions on the site in the last 24 hours, so clearly other people found it interesting as well. I'm happy to change the title if you think that would be helpful? Jul 21, 2021 at 13:36
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    @ToddWilcox Those two really don't have to be separate questions. The second question should probably be part of the question to differentiate it from irrelevant minutae, but nothing says you can't ask both these interrelated questions in a single post and the original question always alluded to the importance of the painting even before the edit, which is exactly what we ask people to do in order to motivate their question.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 21, 2021 at 14:39
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    Whatever. I just vote what I think is right Jul 21, 2021 at 15:28
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    I doubt it is a pre-existing painting, though: it's remarkable that it's not in its original frame; the composition - hands centered, face turned and tilted awkwardly - seems uncommon at best; and the background - with the obvious, careless streaks that are equally rare - seems more like a painterly imitation than an actual background for such a static portrait. And for taking such a prominent position it is also strangely brown and almost monochrome (unrestorated), possibly to make it look old and 'authentic'.
    – Joachim
    Jul 23, 2021 at 8:17

4 Answers 4

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Is this a famous painting?

I don't believe it's a famous painting, though several people seem to think it is a painting of the famous figure Rasputin.

From Reddit user tangoliber:

The painting of Rasputin in Dreykov's office sparked a lot of theories in my mind...

From Reddit user Losary:

...but by the scene with Djerkov and Black Widow standing at the oppsite of eachother there waa a painting displayed of Rasputin.

From danvers--carol.tumblr.com:

Is this Rapustin?? 💀

Screen shot of Scene from Black Widow

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    Are there reasons people assume that? The painting doesn't seem to necessarily depict Rasputin. Is there a correlation between Dreykov and Rasputin that someone expanded on?
    – Joachim
    Jul 21, 2021 at 6:58
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    A Google image search of paintings of rasputin make me think it’s less likely that he’s the subject of the painting. The portrait does look familiar to me but I can’t place it. Jul 21, 2021 at 13:14
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    Can you elaborate a little more on the significance of the paitning for the scene?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 21, 2021 at 14:36
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    @NapoleonWilson Good question. It's hard to say exactly what the significance might be, given that I don't know the subject. However, I think the screen grab that Dan has included here highlights the main reason I had a hunch it was significant. It's so prominently framed by the surrounding materials on the wall that it stands out greatly, and the structure of this shot emphasizes it in the background, dead center between the characters. It's as if the set design and cinematography are begging us to notice it. I'm willing to be told I'm reading too much into it, though. Jul 21, 2021 at 17:16
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    A long-bearded Polish friend of mine once took me down the rabbit hole of paintings of renaissance-era Eastern European nobility. There are thousands if not tens of thousands of original works that would not be recognizable or stumbled across in Google searches. Jul 23, 2021 at 15:08
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Posting another answer/hypothesis in case it helps anybody else move towards finding conclusive evidence... I've seen multiple suggestions from Screen Rant authors that the portrait is of Karl Marx. It's entirely possible that one got the idea from the other, given that they blog for the same site.

They also do not provide any supporting evidence for their claims.

Red Guardian's prison sequence reveals that he's covered in tattoos. The most notable are the KARL and MARX across his knuckles (a love he shares with Dreykov, who has Marx's portrait hanging in his HQ) and the Russian coat of arms emblazoned on his chest.

Source: Black Widow: All Easter Eggs, MCU Connections & Hidden Details (Screen Rant)

One of them is Karl Marx tattooed across his fingers, which gives him a link to Dreykov, his former boss, who has a portrait of Marx in his office.

Source: Black Widow: 10 Questions about the Red Guardian, Answered (Screen Rant)

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    I don't buy it, personally. The beard may be similar, but that's it. The clothing style is pure Renaissance, not something Marx has ever been portrayed as wearing, and he was a stickler for image. Neat, clean dark suit, white shirt, black tie/kerchief was his thing. Jul 30, 2021 at 12:51
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    Yeah, I don't really buy it either, but it seemed worth adding given that it's 1 of 2 answers floating around on the internet right now. Jul 30, 2021 at 12:53
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    Again, comparing the image in question with known portraits of Karl Marx make this seem highly doubtful. I will say it seems more likely than Rasputin, but only the beard matches Marx. The top of of the head does not look like Marx, and the style of the painting is so firmly Dutch/Flemish, while no portrait of Marx I have been able to find is even remotely in that style. Jul 30, 2021 at 12:58
  • Agreed, def worth adding as an answer for completeness. Marx is a better beard-match than Rasputin ever was, at least. Jul 30, 2021 at 12:58
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That is a knock-off of a Rembrandt called Homer dictating his verses. In the original you can see the Scribe who he was dictating to. The reason his face is painted long and drawn is because Homer was blind. As its painting in there it is Homer contemplating the meaning of his verses.

In the context of being in the office the two of them going back and forth they were trying to feel each other out and contemplating where they stand and feel about different things! This is Rasputin:

Photograph of Rasputin

This is Homer:

Painting of Homer

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    The painting in Black Widow does not look like Homer Dictating His Verses. The Homer painting has a different face looking in a different direction with different hand positions. Jul 22, 2021 at 2:58
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    Please try to link to the sources for these images - even if they're public domain, it's good to cite your sources and the name of the artist who painted it.
    – Catija
    Jul 22, 2021 at 6:20
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    Personal opinion is fine, but you might be mistaken, so better back it up with some proof or official source backing up your claim. Jul 22, 2021 at 9:43
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It is Rasputin. Rasputin was a prominent and very influential figure during the reign of the last Russian czar. In fact he was so influential, that he was suspected to have mind-controlling powers over the last Czar and his wife. Mind control is the element linking him to Dreykov I suspect.

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    Can you provide evidence that it depicts Rasputin? A similar painting or photograph, perhaps? I don't think it resembles any known depiction of him. Jul 29, 2021 at 0:56
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    This answer doesn't really add anything new, this other answer already says it's probably Rasputin. Jul 29, 2021 at 10:09

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