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Igor V. Babailov, Hon.RAA, KStA

Recent Official Portraits

His Holiness Pope Francis

Collection: Vatican
Pope Francis Official Portrait Unveiling

Official Portrait Unveiling

Igor Babailov shares with Pope Francis the painting's symbolism.


"The Holy Cross"

Portrait of His Holiness Pope Francis

Oil on Canvas, 72" x 48" ( 183 cm x 122 cm )

Original Concept & Composition, Copyright © Igor V. Babailov

"This work is inspired, it touches my heart!"

~  Pope Francis


"Like with my many other portrait works, Pope Francis’s portrait is more than a portrait in its traditional sense. Its large canvas incorporates a number of symbolic references reflective of Pope Francis: his spirituality and devotion to the Holy Family, love for children and, of course, his washing the feet of the everyday disciples. The word ‘Pontiff’ derives from the word ‘pont’ (bridge) and means the ‘bridge builder,’ so the rainbow behind the Holy Father, symbolizes a bridge that connects the Catholic Church with other religions (represented in the painting by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey). The theme of cross is present throughout the whole painting. The portrait composition is comprised of five major ‘actions’: Pope Francis in the middle, as the focus of the painting, and four groups, located diagonally in both directions towards the corners of the canvas. The Pope’s figure connects them all together, forming a cross. The other cross is prompted by the bright beam of God’s light that comes from above, between the Dove (symbol of the Holy Spirit) on the right and the Holy Family with the little Jesus in the arms of Mary, on the left. This setting invites the viewer to sense the sign of the cross: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The journey of the viewer’s eye begins with the Holy Father and in circular movement returns back to him, as he gently puts the hands over the cross on his cassock, protecting gesture. This is also his typical posture. I reminisce the unveiling of the portrait to Pope Francis, when he put his hand on his heart and said about the painting, “It touches me” and then he added, “It inspires.”   

 ~  Igor V. Babailov

Pope Francis and Igor Babailov, official portrait unveiling, Collection: Vatican

Photo credit: Official Vatican photography

Pope Francis and Igor Babailov, official portrait unveiling, the symbolism, collection: Vatican
Pope Francis and Igor Babailov, official portrait unveiling and the symbolism, collection: Vatican
The Billboard at Times Square, Portrait of Pope Francis by Igor Babailov

The papal portrait unveiling featured on the billboard at Times Square, 

New York City.

VIDEO  "The Man who Painted Pope Francis"

Related LINKS to Igor Babailov's Vatican works

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