Is there an art historian in the house?

imageColin Berry did an interesting 3D rendering from the painting "Descent from the Cross with the Holy Shroud" or as it is sometimes called, “The Entombment of Christ” by Giovanni Battista della Rovere (c. 1575-c. 1640).  The question must be asked; how much has this painting been enhanced from the original? To what extents did this alter the 3D rendering. To see why we need to question this, look at the copy on the website of the Shroud Museum in Turin (see clickable thumbnails below).

The bigger question may be: how accurate is this popular web version (center below) as a useful indicator of what the shroud looked like in the early 17th century.  Should we not be using the photograph that is on the Shroud Museum website.

ImageJ Rendering from the Giovanni Battista della Rovere painting shown here in the center. The "Descent from the Cross with the Holy Shroud" or “The Entombment of Christ” by Giovanni Battista della Rovere painted about 1625, as it appears in many websites on the web. As it appears on the website of the Church of the Holy Shroud and the Shroud Museum where the painting is located. As photographed Nov 6, 2008. The web size is 2585×3396 meaning you can have a good close look.

imageNote:  Paul Vignon attributed the above painting to Giulio Clovio (1498–1578) and a different painting, shown here on the right, to Giovanni Battista della Rover.

Is there an art historian in the house?

14 thoughts on “Is there an art historian in the house?”

  1. The picture

    is variously attributed as either painted by Giulio Clovio, or Giovanni Battista della Rovere. I found also another version, which seems most probable to me, that there two versions of this image, first painted by Clovio, and later copied by della Rovere.

    As to this image:

    it was painted by Jean-Gaspard Badouin (1590-1669), according to the caption in one of Barbara Frale’s book.

    1. Yes, those are two different pictures. Look at the upper captions of the paintings , which read ‘Il verissmo ritratto…’ If you compare the two images

      you can notice that the second line of the caption, begining with ‘Dei Nostro Salvatore’ is slightly moved right on one of the pictures, compared to the first line, while at the same level on another.

  2. The plot thickens:

    … and a different painting, shown here on the right, to Giovanni Battista della Rover.

    Take a closer look at the top half of Joseph of Arimathea’s linen

    Am I not right in thinking the artist wants us to know that image formation began as soon as the cloth made contact with body? Ring any bells?

    I’m keeping an open mind for now on the possibility that the TS image on the other picture(s) has as Dan suggests been heavily touched up, possibly quite recently, say the last 100 years. Admittedly that wouldn’t help my case expressed earlier, but then nor would it seriously impair it. Artists in the 16th/17th century did not necessarily see image formation as a Resurrection event, more one that was an extrapolation of Veronica-type imaging from road to Calvary to Descent from Cross, and mediated presumably in the latter instance by physical contact of a sweat and blood-laden body with Joseph’s linen.

  3. Much food for thought.

    Nevertheless, I wouldn’t rely on that picture too much, as it simply has too small resolution of 306×72 pixels, and is a JPEG. As jpegs filter out higher image frequencies, and use interpolation, thus the image looks smoother and probably more realistic than in reality. Not to say that this is miniature and not subtle and superficial as the Shroud.

    Here you have the enlargment of original image fragments. The individual pixels are easily seen. That’s why my advice is not to trust the 3D representation too much.

  4. The darker of the two similar paintings can be magnoified up to reveal an inscription just below the bottom right hand corner. It seems to read JOANNES BAPTISTA DE RVERE followed by some other words.

      1. Yes, it’s there alright clublu, on the first bit of green immediately below the picture in very small lettering. I had to keep pressing CON+ to its highest magnification.

        Well spotted Hugh.

  5. I don’t know how you post images here clublu, but it’s there. What’s more, leafing through my copy of “Regolamenti della reale Accademia di pittura e scultura di Torino” published in 1778 which I’m sure you all have in your libraries… (Who am I kidding? It’s on Google Books!), I find a reference to Rovere, in an inscription to another painting reading “Joannes Baptista de Ruere Taurinensis faciebat 1627” which fits very nicely on the Shroud painting’s inscription and elucidates the other words, although I cannot decipher the date – if it is a date.

  6. Trying to find out a little more, i don’t think there was a painter called “della Rovere”, which is a noble Italian family. Paintings attributed “della Rovere” refer to a style or period (of the “della Rovere” popes) rather than anybody specific.

  7. Interesting, and curious. Trying to find other “della Rovere” paintings, I found first the “House of della Rovere” on Wikipedia, and then a curious reference on the V&A site to a “dish on low foot depicting Cinyras and Myrhha, probably painted by the “della Rovere” painter, Urbino, about 1540.” This I took to be a reference to a style or period rather than a painter called Urbino della Rovere. I do know that anybody can be called della Rovere, but I think there was some added significance in the 16th century. Whatever the truth of the matter, the Shroud painting appears not to have been by any “della Rovere” anyway, but by “de Ruere”, unless “de Ruere” was, in fact a “della Rovere” painter!

  8. I can’t properly translate the paragraph: A Pietro Francesco, noto dal 1625 (se non si tratta di una omonimia), sono pagati nre ritratti del Ss. Sudario” nel 1650, e ancora più fitte sono le notizie su GiovanniBattista (Schede Vesme, pp. 406 s.). Nel luglio 1621 il cardinal Maurizio di Savoia lo richiamò da Roma, dove era forse per motivi di studio (come risulta esservi stato il fratello Pietro Francesco): il documento è erroneamente riferito dal Vesme (ibid., p. 407) a Giovanni Battista detto il Fiamminghino; è firmato e datato “Io. Bapta de Ruere Taurinensis faciebat 1625” un S. Sebastiano,su tela, a più che mezza figura, conservato in una collezione privata di Alba, ma che proverrebbe da Monteu Roero; una firma analoga, “Io. Bap. de Ruere taur. faciebat 1627”, compare su uno straordinario dipinto emblematico già in S. Francesco d’Assisi a Torino e ora depositato nella locale Galleria Sabauda, il cui soggetto sarebbe, a detta del Bartoli (1776), “la fine della vita umana”.

    Does it mean that ‘Giovanni Battista dell Rovere’ signed himself ‘Joannes Baptista de Ruere’? That would make sense!

    1. Hugh: yes, there is confusion among the several works attributed to a Della Rovere and representing the Shroud. I had given the link to a page by Leonardo Caviglioli devoted to the most famous Giovan Battista della Rovere, “il Fiamminghino” (=Flemish). You quote from another page of the same 1989 edition of the Treccani dictionary, by Giovanni Romano, devoted to the Turinese Della Rovere family of painters. Your page, not mine, seems to be the right one for our quest. As specified at the beginning of the page, there is no relation between the Turinese family and the “Fiamminghino”.from Milan. Therefore the Giovanni Battista from Turin, mentioned in your quote, has nothing to do with the most famous Giovan Battista. At any rate, neither of them has relation with the family of the Pope.
      As mentioned in your quote, a certain document has been erroneously attributed to the Fiamminghino. Perhaps a similar error has been perpetuated and still now the paintings of the Shroud are sometimes attributed to the wrong Della Rovere. If so, you have happily solved the doubt. But the problem is not so simple because as you quote, the three portraits of the Shroud are attributed to Pietro Francesco, another member of the Turin family. (The word “nre” in the original is clearly a mistake for “tre” = three.)
      A couple of paragrahs above your quote (beginning with “Già il 1° giugno 1606 il duca Carlo Emanuele I di Savoia”) it is stated that in 1606 the Duke had given to Gerolamo, the eldest Della Rovere, and to his family the privilege of painting the Shroud. During the following years, until the death of Gerolamo in 1638, any number of paintings of the Shroud may have been produced by Gerolamo or his sons. I cannot go further than this. Really an art historian is wanted.
      Lastly, the word “ruere”, not used to-day in Italian, can well stand for “rovere” in the language, or some dialect of the time.

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