It isn’t difficult to find an image of Bob Hope. With a career in the entertainment industry that spanned nearly eighty years and with 54 feature films to his credit, it is safe to assume that his face can be found just about any place where laughter is appreciated.
For that reason, it might seem odd that so many people stand in line to see his likeness on one particular oil painting. Amusingly, his is not the only face in the painting, but it is the one most people recognize right away. The painting is large — 135 cm × 123 cm (53 in × 48 in), but that isn’t what makes it so remarkable.
It shows Hope in a distinctly religious scene, which is odd, but it isn’t the reason people stand in line to see it.
He may be dressed in an unusual costume in the painting, but there’s no mistaking Hope’s distinctive nose and expressive eyes. The image looks so much like Hope as he appeared in the 1942 movie Road to Morocco that one wonders why the artist bothered to make minor changes to his costume. It isn’t because of the choice of clothing, however, that the painting is so popular.
The painting, Adoration of the Trinity, is located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. An Austrian locale for a painting of a man who is famous for entertaining U.S. soldiers for over fifty years might be somewhat unusual, but that fact certainly doesn’t justify the enormous appeal of this work.
As people gather to stare at one of the greatest comedians of all time, they wonder what prompted the artist, Albrecht Dürer, to include his likeness in the remarkable painting. It is true that laughter is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. It is also true that comedy is one of the greatest unifying forces in a world that is so often divided by evil. Despite that, did Bob Hope truly earn a place of honor in a scene that depicts Jesus, John the Baptist, and other heroes of the Christian faith?
If only it were possible to ask the artist about his motivation. Unfortunately, Dürer passed away before anyone could pose that question to him. Albrecht Dürer’s masterpiece, Adoration of the Trinity, was completed in the year 1511 — a full 392 years before Bob Hope’s birth.