More on the Abgar Icon

Can you really apply Vignon to this icon?

imageSr. Ann writes:

I was particularly pleased with what Yannick Clemente and Russ Breault had to say. As you know I have concerns about the efficacy of the Vignon Markings for determining if a work of art was derived or inspired by the Holy Shroud. Even if I’m wrong about Vignon, I doubt that even a few of his markings can be identified in the Mandylion being held by King Abgar V. I am referring, of course, to the Abgar icon at Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai. What do you think?

Click on the icon to see a larger size (900 x 1231)

And you are referring to Stephen Jones’ application of Vignon to that icon.

I share your concerns. The Vignon markings, themselves, are the stuff of subjectivity. They vary in significance, one marking to another. For instance, like you, I have no confidence in the open-top square, thinking that it is quite common in art; I would be surprised if there weren’t many instances of it in pictures of Jesus even if we knew for certain that the shroud was a late-medieval fake. I may disagree on other markings. Vignon is an old standard much in need of validation.

Having said that, however, I want to give Stephen Jones the benefit of the doubt and will wait for his higher resolution image of the top-right quadrant of the icon or at least of the inner picture of Jesus.

Stephen ponders (sort of) if this picture-within-a-picture-within-a-picture “alone proves, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Edessa cloth/ Mandylion was the Turin Shroud ‘four-doubled’ (tetradiplon)?”

It is a tag question. If I read Stephen correctly he thinks so and I would be thrilled if he could make the case. We need to wait for a higher resolution image.

A major concern is the size and image quality of the icon. Do click on the above icon to examine it. How big do you imagine the icon to be (does anyone know)? Try to imagine the size of the face of Jesus. An inch? Two? Three? What is the quality of the encaustic paint (wax) on the icon? Look at Abgar’s robe over his right knee. Why might some think that the faces seem to be in better condition (just thinking out loud).  At what point is higher resolution needed, particularly if it produces an image that is larger than real? Do we risk, “I think I see problems?” If you are going to say, “beyond any reasonable doubt,” is the analysis of this work of art thorough enough?

In the meantime, I find these web-based images of the top-right quadrant interesting. The ascending sizes are pixel counts and do not necessarily relate to true spatial resolution.

  • At Wikimedia  (321 x 411) – Very common on the web. I use it often.
  • In Digital Journal (782 x 1001) – Used by Stephen in his blog Aug 7, 2012
  • On Stephen’s blog (1620 x 2000) – Included May 18, 2014

Does anyone know the size of this icon? Can you really apply Vignon to it?

2 thoughts on “More on the Abgar Icon”

  1. The icon is a fragment of triptych, of which the central part representing Mandylion is missing.The wings are 28 cm high and 9.5 wide. So the face on the Mandylion hold by Abgar is maybe 2-3 cm.

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