St Veronica’s Veil, c1640

This oil painting was made by Phillippe de Champaigne in about 1640. It depicts a holy relic known as St Veronica’s Veil, a piece of cloth which bears the face of Jesus.

The eyes have it?

According to Christian tradition, Veronica wiped the sweat from Jesus’s brow as he carried the cross to his place of crucifixion. After his death, his face mysteriously appeared on the cloth that Veronica had used.

Veronica’s Veil was a popular subject for artists at this time. Some would depict Jesus’s face in a state of suffering; others would show him at rest.

Phillippe de Champaigne’s painting is more ambiguous. He is bleeding from his crown of thorns, but his attention is focused on the viewer.

What do you read into his gaze?

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