Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century devotional texts dedicated to the Shroud of Turin treat the cloth’s traces of blood as evidence of divine artistry, calling the image a painting by God. This lecture will consider how belief in the materiality of blood combined with artistic tropes that credit art-making with the formation of living bodies conspired in creating an explanation—both artistic and theological—for the appearance of Christ's corpse on the Shroud. The blood-stained cloth with its image of Christ's body came to be regarded as a residual pictorial record of the Resurrected body, further enhancing the Shroud's prestige as an object of religious devotion.
Andrew Casper is a specialist of Renaissance and Baroque art of southern Europe with a particular emphasis on the early career of Domenikos Theotokopoulos “El Greco” and religious art after the Counter Reformation in Italy. He is the author of numerous essays and articles on sixteenth-century icons and the religious paintings from El Greco’s Italian period. His book Art and the Religious Image in El Greco’s Italy (Penn State University Press, 2014) uses El Greco’s early paintings to advance new ideas concerning the conception of religious imagery after the Council of Trent. His current research examines the artistic conception of the Shroud of Turin in the late-sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, looking at how early-modern devotional manuals draw from contemporary art theory to portray the Shroud’s imprint of Christ’s body as a divine work of art.
This lecture is co-sponsored by the Medieval and Early Modern Studies program and the Department of the History of Art