Opinion

Kitsch Alert: Slap Your Face (or Your Partner’s, Pet’s) on an Old Master

Nobilified! (all screenshots via nobilified.com)
Nobilified! (all screenshots via nobilified.com)

Everyone’s favorite Hallmark holiday is coming up in one month, which means if you haven’t bought a present for your significant other yet, you’re running out of time.

Luckily, we received the best gift idea we’ve ever seen in our inbox this morning: Nobilified.

As its name suggests, Nobilified seeks to ennoble us ordinary folks through the painting of portraits. Specifically, the company offers you a chance to send in a photograph of yourself and have your face painted into a famous artwork. “We paint your face on history!” the website proclaims. Want a portrait of your husband as the god Neptune? Or a painting of your dog as Joan of Arc? Or a picture of your girlfriend as Bronzino’s “Lady in Red with a Puppy” (or your dog as “Lady in Red with a Puppy,” because OMG SO META LOL)? Think of all the joy this will bring you (and your loved one and/or pet).

Nobilified! (all screenshots via nobilified.com) (click to enlarge)
Examples of Nobilified’s work (click to enlarge)

But that’s not all. Nobilified also offers you the chance to “make an imprint on the course of art history by immortalizing your wildest dreams.” That means you don’t have to be a member of the royal court (and you don’t have to be buying a gift) — you can also get painted into your favorite sports moments, movie posters, album covers, or just make your own crazy additions to famous paintings. (As the site sagely asks, “Why be a god, when you can be an emperor riding a unicorn?”) A favorite seems to be Jacques-Louis David’s “Napoleon Crossing the Alps,” which Nobilified customers have variously modified by: turning the horse into a fire-breathing unicorn with a rainbow in the background, turning the horse into a motorcycle, and turning Napoleon into an overly patriotic American wrapped in the US flag and carrying a rifle. Nobilified itself, in an effort to raise money for prostate cancer research, has turned Napoleon into Kanye West and his horse into a terrifying Kim Kardashian centaur. Sorry, Kehinde Wiley — looks like the jig is up.

Kimye Nobilified for charity (via @nobilified/Instagram)
Kimye Nobilified for charity (via @nobilified/Instagram)

Nobilified itself seems to have quite a noble mission: to democratize art and bring it to the masses. The company’s “vision”:

In addition to providing high quality oil paintings, we want to change the way people percieve (sic) art, by making it fun and accessible, thus giving them the opportunity to share or gift a unique custom made oil painting with friends and family. No longer will having a oil panting of yourself hanging above the chimney be out of your reach. This privilege used to be reserved for the upper tiers of society, but we now share it with all of you, even if you are not knighted. A unique, hand-painted, oil-on-canvas work of art will certainly add a touch of grandeur to your living quarters.

Grandeur, indeed! The Philadelphia Eagles’ linebacker room has never looked so rarified.

Who would possibly not want a portrait of their partner like this?
Who would possibly not want a portrait of their partner like this? (click to enlarge)

Even so, Nobilified seems to know what the true driver of commissioned portraits is: ego. And strangely — or perhaps not so strangely — it associates that ego with men. The press release we received today makes the case pretty darn convincingly:

Valentine’s Day is once again approaching, and shopping for men often proves to be a very difficult task. Men have many options that are almost certain to make her happy, while women must scratch their head wondering if she (sic) can think of something better than a pair of wooly socks. …

With each year together, couples often try to outdo the gifts they bought their significant other the year before or even run out of ideas. With Noblified, women can turn their man’s wildest dreams and fantasies into a customized portrait year after year. There is no shortage of great historic leaders that help create unique and memorable portraits. Whether it is of Napoleon or Caesar, a Nobilified portrait of him doing something legendary is sure to boost any man’s confidence and perhaps make him feel more inclined to do some housework.

I truly cannot imagine how this scenario might break down, or think of a better way to spend $99–400. Joining the 1% has never been so affordable!

More examples (click to enlarge)
More examples (click to enlarge)
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