Monday, 2 November 2015

The Shroud Of Christ By Paul Vignon D.Sc (Fr) Part 44.

On Plate VII. we reproduce the three best of these impressions. The three upper heads are the facsimiles of the proofs reduced in size. Below each is its negative print. The cloths bearing the impressions were the equivalents of the Holy Shroud ; the negatives are equivalent to those of M. Pia given on our Plates III. and V.

It will be seen that we radically failed in our attempt to reproduce by a mechanical process impressions similar to those on the Shroud. The best of our attempts is the centre one, and it is very poor.

The print on the left has the nose abnormally developed—the head on the linen is that of a negro ; on the negative it resembles that of a drowned man. The head on the right had the cloth as lightly strained as possible, but the more the cloth was strained over the bridge of the nose the more it made it appear like a hard right angle without modelling and without any sign of the sides of the nose on the cloth ; in their place there is a complete gap, white on the cloth, black on the negative.

The great fault in all three heads is that the eyes are lowered almost to the line of the nostrils, and the cheek-bones and mouth are also in their wrong places, and the cheeks seem swollen. In all the specimens which we reproduce there is some change in the general proportions of the face. In vain the operator tries to alter or correct. It would be impossible to consider the rough print as a sketch, only needing to be touched up to gain the requisite expression. Artists know that a likeness exists in the very first, slightest sketch. If the sketch starts badly, better destroy it at once—to work on a bad beginning where the harmonies are false is to lose one's power of judgment; unconsciously the eye tries to reconcile the model to the bad sketch, which one has not had the courage to sacrifice.

It is useless to enter into further details—to show, for instance, that the beard was not represented though thickly charged with colour and supported from underneath in order to secure its contact with the linen. It was impossible to establish any parallel between our efforts and the impressions on the Shroud. We obtained a face after a fashion, but the features are so distorted that it is only a caricature.

One thing seems certain, if the forger at the Abbey of Lirey had been reduced to work in the way we did, he would never have obtained a portrait which could stand photography. On the Shroud, if the features are faint in places, the proportions remain admirable ; and the powerful effect they produce is mainly due to the perfect harmony which they present as a whole.

The forger could doubtless have obtained the imprints of a body and limbs by simple contact, but he could not have obtained the portrait of a head ; this theory must be abandoned.

No one could assert that the head and the body have been obtained by different processes ; in fact, on the Shroud the entire figures are in harmony with the same geometrical laws, and present the same general characteristics.

At the same time, if the forger had obtained a head no better than those in our illustration he would probably have been quite content with that result, bad as it is. His work would not have been criticized so long as no photographic camera led to an investigation of it.

In conclusion, even if the forger had wished to do better than our effort at the Sorbonne, he could have had no means by which to realize his good intention. In short, no worker by any known pictorial method could have executed the figures on the Holy Shroud.

We have now ascertained two more important points.

The figures on the Holy Shroud are impressions.

These impressions cannot have been obtained by contact only.

But these two propositions involve a corollary of even greater importance.

It is impossible any longer to attribute the figures on the Holy Shroud to a forger.

Before registering this important conclusion we should like to run rapidly through the evidence which has led us to this result.

Have we employed the ordinary forms of reasoning ?—by induction or by deduction ? Truly we do not know, having been so much occupied in presenting our contentions in their simplest and most obvious form. The figures being negative, whence came the negatives ? Could an ordinary painter have so manipulated his medium as to produce this negative ?


Could an ordinary and positive painting become changed into a negative by the effect of chemical transformation ? Assuredly this has not been the case.

Is there any possible method by which a forger in the Middle Ages could have produced the effect of a negative ?

We answer that there is such a method (as we have just seen) but that the results are so imperfect that a positive and natural photographic portrait could not be obtained from them, such as has been obtained from the impressions on the Shroud.

Therefore we may dismiss the question of forgery.

If we have departed from fact in this long chain of argument we are still open to conviction, but we now think ourselves justified in saying that the impressions shown on the Holy Shroud have been spontaneously produced.