Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Shroud Of Christ By Paul Vignon D.Sc (Fr) Part 21.

The artist has lessened the general value of the picture by making a multitude of fine lines all over the body. He has done this from a false interpretation, believing, like Chifflet, and like the " Clarisses " of 1534, that the image had been produced by liquid blood, and therefore making the wound-marks as he thought they must have been. In so doing he gives the scourge-marks as they would have been inflicted by flexible rods capable of cutting, not bruising, the skin, as the Roman flagella does.

We now pass to Italy, for there is to be found the very remarkable miniature painting by Giulio Clovio, which we have reproduced in this work as our frontispiece. Our readers will have seen for themselves how the power and imagination of the artist are diminished when he has to paint an object the exact signification of which is not clear to his own mind. Who indeed in the sixteenth century, or at any other time, could have guessed that the very faults in the moulding of the contours, the absence of precision in the outlines of the sacred impressions, are the scientific basis on which our argument rests ? Who indeed could have had the strength of mind to confine himself to the reproduction of what seemed to be evidently faults in design ?

We are indebted to M. le barron A. Manno and to M. Chevalier Secondo Pia for an excellent photographic proof of another miniature, painted on silk, and preserved likewise in the Pinacothek at Turin. It also dates from the sixteenth century, and these gentlemen incline to think that probably it also is the work of Giulio Clovio. However this may be, the angels holding up the Holy Shroud are painted in the same manner as those shown in our frontispiece, but the impressions on the Shroud itself are somewhat differently treated. The general sweep of the body is more thick-set, and the features more in detail. Their rendering is entirely negative. We cannot, however, go so far as to say that we find in the photographic proof from this miniature the full expression of the original.

Both miniatures have a sort of perizoma exactly like that on the Chambery drawing. Their painters, however, have not gone so far as to invent a knotting of the cloth, as the engraver of Chifflet's plate has done ; they have only given additional force to certain light-coloured bands which, across the image on the Holy Shroud, mark the rise of the loins or express the hollows situated between the legs and the fleshy parts of the pelvis.

We may glean some further useful details from other Italian copies. There is one, an engraving of which has been shown us by M. de Buttel.

This was done at the time of the journey undertaken by Carlo Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, when he came to Turin in 1578 to do reverence to the Holy Shroud. We cannot learn much from the modelling of the body, which in many respects is incorrect, but it shows clearly the marks of the nails, the wounds being in the wrists and near the ankles.

Another copy on linen was executed in 1650. It is the same size as the original, and is in the possession of Count Ernest Gay de Montoriolo— handed down from the Counts Salpone, who held high office in the royal household. It is a roughly painted water-colour, remarkable chiefly for the fact that the nose and eyes are distinctly painted as negative. The wounds of the nails are shown in the wrists and near the ankles.

So, then, two copies made from the Holy Shroud show the wounds in the feet near the ankles. It is evident, we think, that the painters of these copies have placed the wounds a little too high up. In his photograph M. Pia has reproduced the front of the figure as far down as the ankles, but not far enough down to distinguish the nail-marks near the ankles. Nevertheless we believe that these wounds on the feet were not as traditionally indicated, in the middle of the sole. We already know that under the feet the largest clots are near the heels, and by combining this observation with the indications afforded by the Italian copyists we judge that the nails were driven in at the junction of the tarsal and metatarsal bones. The wounds in the feet in the front aspect of the figure would thus be situated at a spot analogous to where M. Pia shows the wound in the left hand. Not until we are able to examine the Holy Shroud itself can this detail be definitely settled.

Before leaving Italy we may say a few words about a miniature on parchment which has been submitted to our inspection. It bears the date 1559, probably incorrectly ; but some writing on the back has enabled M. Paul Meyer, Member of the Institute and Keeper of the Records, to fix its date about the seventeenth century. The face is roughly drawn in as negative. The painter has somewhat naively mistaken the side-locks of hair for linen folds ; the wound in the side, placed correctly, is shown as a species of rosette which supports the linen swathings. There is no neck. The miniature is executed in some brown tint. Its general aspect reminds one of Clovio's work, of which it may be a copy.