Tuesday, 20 October 2015
The Shroud Of Christ By Paul Vignon D.Sc (Fr) Part 33.
Can we go to the immortal Raphael for the right conception of the Redeemer ? Neither in the Last Supper at Florence, nor in his Transfiguration at the Vatican, can we admit anything Divine in the aspect and attributes of the Saviour as there represented. He is one of the personages of the picture, playing His decorative part with all due fitness, just as the Apostles and others fulfil their roles.
Of choice we end our review with the Christ of Leonardo da Vinci (fig. 30). Was the artist right when he protested that he was powerless to deal with such a subject ?
The rough sketch of the figure is in the Brera collection at Milan.
The finished head at St. Marie des Graces is now almost indistinguishable, while in the various copies, the copyists seem to have worked according to their own fancy. It is then to the rough sketch alone that we must look for the artists ideal; and if the original conception was pure and noble, the drawing somewhat lacks power. At first one seems to realize that the thought which the artist wished to render was that of self-abnegation, but as we continue to gaze at it we recognize that the basis of the idea is morbid and sentimental. The artist evidently drew upon his own imagination, and so we find the eyebrows commonplace in outline, the eyes vaguely prominent, the nose too rounded, and the lips weak and commonplace. Yes, Leonardo has failed, as he feared he must.
Our examination, then, has brought us to a definite conclusion; a conclusion which we believe that art-critics and men of science cannot fail to arrive at also; namely, that among all the works of art which the world has ever known, sculpture or painting, the portrait on the Holy Shroud has never been equalled, much less surpassed. It stands quite alone. Reproducing as it does, the actual lineaments of our Lord, it seems to bring Him living before us, with all the heroism, all the goodness of the Redeemer still visible on the dead face.