THE IMPRESSIONS ARE ACTUAL NEGATIVES—THESE NEGATIVES CANNOT BE PAINTINGS —THESE NEGATIVES CANNOT HAVE BEEN PRODUCED BY CHEMICAL TRANSFORMATION—THE SHROUD HAS RETAINED THE IMPRESSION OF A HUMAN BODY—THE PROCESS NECESSARY TO PRODUCE PRINTS BY SIMPLE CONTACT — THE IMPRESSIONS RESULT FROM SOME ACTION WITHOUT CONTACT
THE IMPRESSIONS ARE ACTUAL NEGATIVES
After the exhibition in 1898 many people asserted that the figures on the Holy Shroud could not be paintings, for the simple reason that they appeared as negatives. It was said, with truth, that it would be impossible to paint thus. This argument, however, was met by a counter assertion that the impressions might not be negatives. The first thing then to establish is this. Are they, or are they not, negatives ?
We propose now to examine the different opinions put forward by hostile critics who desire to prove that these are ordinary paintings by ordinary painters, quite unworthy of the stir made about them.
In the Chronique des Arts et de la Curiosity, which is a supplement to the Gazette des Beaux Arts of September 8, 1900 (p. 304), M. de Mely remarks that " these photographs of the Holy Shroud might be negatives, without the impressions on the Shroud itself being of that nature. The Shroud," he adds, " having been photographed by electric light, transparently through its substance, the paint, even though white, being opaque, would come out dark in the photograph, and produce a negative effect." Here M. de Mely grants that, photographically speaking, the plates of M. Pia are correct; other critics maintain the contrary. We wish to avoid useless discussion, and will not argue also whether the Shroud has or has not got opaque layers of paint upon it, or whether, if one looked through it against the light, it would have a negative appearance. The question to be answered is quite simple. The allegation of M. de Mely is incorrect, because the Holy Shroud was not photographed in the manner suggested.
We have before us an official statement of M. le Baron Antonio Manno, President of the Executive Committee of 1898, under whose supervision the whole of the photographic operations were conducted. In this duly attested document we find that the Holy Shroud, extended in its frame above the altar, was lighted from the front by two powerful electric lamps, placed about ten yards from the relic. It would not occur to any one to doubt the good faith of this Executive Committee. We may add, however, that not even this official testimony was necessary to prove that M. de Mely's statement is a mistaken one.
When we published the first edition of this work we based it on the belief (which for us was a certainty) that M. Pia's photographs were as sincere as they were scrupulously exact. We had only to look at the negative plates in our possession to ascertain that there was no trace of touching up visible, and the peculiarities and creases on the stuff were so well given that they testified to the accuracy of the original plates. But sundry of our critics, hostile to the authenticity of the Shroud, yet finding it impossible to maintain their hostile arguments without incriminating the loyalty of the Commission of 1898, have actually proceeded to do so, without the very slightest foundation for their charges. We will therefore mention here that we ourselves have been to Turin, and have seen M. Pia's original plates, and we can testify that the marks on the Holy Shroud are such as our illustrations represent them.