In the pre-modern era, political leaders frequently had themselves depicted in church art. Romanesque churches have mosaics of emperors and senators; Renaissance princes had themselves depicted in altarpieces. It’s unusual to see this kind of thing nowadays, but the practice may be making a comeback in some places. Interfax reports this week that a regional governor in Kazakhstan had himself painted in a church fresco, among a group of people welcoming Christ (left). Facing criticism, the governor has denied asking for the depiction and says he wants it erased. It does look a bit incongruous. After all, those Roman emperors in the old mosaics – they actually wore togas in real life, too.

Leave a Reply