David Mo gave reference to the article:
- Chavanne–Mazel, Claudine A.: “Popular Belief and the Image of Beardless Christ” (Visual Resources, Vol 19, no 1; 2003; p. 19–24)
It is indeed interesting, and even mentions the Shroud. However its conclusion state:
The image [of Christ] was created through popular (low) culture and the Church had nothing to do with it. Legends and “authentic” images that came into being under low culture have generated a unanimous archetype rather than an archetype that created legends.
Really? One should consider the following:
- In Christian art, there is no single model of physical appearance for God the Father:
- nor for the Virgin Mary:
- nor for Jesus as a child:
- nor for John the Baptist:
- nor for Moses:
- nor for St. Peter:
- nor for St. Paul:
- nor for St. John:
Each of these Holy Figures have been portrayed with various looks, dependent on style, epoch and geographical area –their features vary significantly depending on those factors.
But since the 6th century onwards there is one dominant universal model for adult Jesus Christ with long hair, beard and skinny face!
The basic question: WHY?
Pressure of the masses? Why not in the other cases?
One note, the text above is of my autorship. I have sent it to Dan, a day or two ago.
I apologize for the goof. I meant to say that and have fixed the title.
Sounds heart-felt, but is it in fact, true? Iconography has been remarkably consistent, and images of the infant Jesus and his mother are almost always recognisable as such without any label. Type “icon” and the name of a holy figure into Google and dozens of very consistent similar images appear for almost anybody. Moses has gaunt cheeks and white hair, Andrew’s hair is white and slightly unkempt, John the Baptist has darker, longer and wilder hair than anybody, and Peter has a very full beard and looks like Zeus. In icons of the Last Supper almost all the apostles are instantly recognisable.
In short, there most certainly are stock types for all the holy figures, and Jesus is just one of them. No doubt if I gave examples of twenty St Johns, OK would find an exception and say I was wrong; but if he finds twenty Christs and I find an exception, then for some reason that doesn’t count. Special pleading, if you ask me…
Sounds heart-felt, but is it in fact, true? Iconography has been remarkably consistent, and images of the infant Jesus and his mother are almost always recognisable as such without any label.
Yes, Hugh, but they are easily recognizable by their standard attributes (Madonna with Child, for example), but we are talking about physical appearance. Tha Black Madonna of Częstochowa (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Blackmadonna.jpeg ) is completely different from Raphael’s Madonna della Seggiola (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Raffael_026.jpg).
Similarly Saint John at Patmos by Velaquez http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/diego-velazquez/saint-john-at-patmos looks completely different from Bosch’s http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/hieronymus-bosch/saint-john-the-evangelist-on-patmos-1485
Why isn’t it in the case of Christ? Why one physical look, even when portrayed with sinic features?
But this, for some reason, doesn’t count….
Why bother, you can simply go straight to the Michelangalo and the Last Judgment: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Michelangelo%2C_Giudizio_Universale_03.jpg
But those are exceptions, and the “classical” look of Christ is firmly established. Contrary to other prophets and saints. The differences in look there are an order of magnitude higher, than some variations on the Christ theme.
I thought so. I think we’ll just have to disagree.
Cordially, of course.
I read the CM/CA paper referred by David Mo. I found it particularly informative on the number of early beardless Christs, and I was reminded of a recent posting here in apocryphal writings of Jesus as “shape-shifter”, where his appearance was said to be different to different people. Which is of course legendary stuff.
However by the end of it, I considered the paper overly interpretive, and came to a conclusion of how artistic mythology is created and reinforced by such papers. The paper is weak on some necessary objective factual evidence. Much is made of the now discredited Pierre D’Arcy memo, and it was only too evident that the Thurston / Chevalier notorious paper had been uncritically embraced by the authors, and it was only too clear that this alone was sufficient for them to adopt an anti-authenticity position regarding the Shroud, with no mention of any scientific work to the contrary. The idea presented being to reinforce their thesis that acceptance of Christ imagery is determined by popular-low culture, as anti-Pope Clement VII had acceded to the popular demand for the Lirey expositions against the factual evidence, an overly-subjective interpretation indeed.
It cannot be surprising that iconic portrayals in the West differ considerably from those in eastern Christianity of whatever branch, Orthodox, Nestorian or Monphysite. The Eastern focus was on representations of Mandylion imagery, and it was some centuries before this penetrated to the West. I wonder for example if Michelangelo had indeed ever heard of the Mandylion? The Western imagery is largely irrelevant when it comes to debating to what extent the Mandylion influenced the appearance of Christ imagery.
For a productive discussion concerning what influence the Shroud may have had on such imagery, the focus needs to concentrate on the eastern representations.
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